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Gilbert Arenas’ idea to fix NBA defense: “Get rid of all Europeans”



By Antonis Stroggylakis /

Former three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas has a plan on how to make the NBA game more balanced on both sides of the floor and address the lack of defensive intensity.

“Get rid of all Europeans,” Arenas said during the most recent episode of his Gil’s Arena show. The quote was initially met with laughs by his guests, including former NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin who almost spilled his coffee.

Arenas proceeded to elaborate and analyze his thoughts.

“You [Martin] just said it,” Arenas continued. “You go to college to learn defense. What college do Europeans go to? They have no athleticism. They have no speed, no jumping ability. They are a liability on defense. They are 150 Euros in the league today… name the top defenders. None! Just Rudy [Gobert] and the Greek Freak. Other than that, they are offensive players. They aren’t defensive players, right?”

Arenas may be correct about the fact that European players don’t go to college before moving to the NBA. But several of them make the trip across the pond after spending years engaged in high-level, competitive basketball, which, of course, includes tough and physical defensive play against fierce competition in continental and domestic leagues.

18 or 19-year-old (or younger if you are named Luka Doncic) players in Europe are actually taught the defensive fundamentals in practice but also in action while dealing with the pressure of professional basketball, which is unlike anything college players face. Their defensive baptism of fire takes place against older, bigger, and more experienced players – sometimes including former NBAers – in demanding situations.

This is their “college.”

“The NBA took away aggression to open up to the EuroLeague,” Arenas said. “When they first started to get here, it was too rough for them. They didn’t make it. They softened the rules. They didn’t soften the rules for Americans. They softened the rules to open up internationally. So when they are saying that Euros are going to run the league in the next five years… why do you think that? More threes, more passing. This isn’t our league, this is the Euro style.”

Photo: Getty Images

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