Saturday night’s CBA season opener brought out the stars. The world’s best badminton player, Lin Dan, and probably best female diver, Wu Minxia, were in attendance. Li Ning threw the ceremonial jump ball. Shanghai Sharks owner Yao Ming was in the stands. But the biggest attraction was on the floor, in the form of former Dream Teamers Stephon Marbury and Gilbert Arenas — two of only three Team USA Basketball players to compete in the CBA — who were expected to duel deep into the game.
That didn’t work out as planned. Arenas hobbled to the bench barely six minutes in — check out the entirety of the minutes he played in the video above (after the jump on Youku for those in China). He pulls up limp at the 8:22 mark, in what was originally diagnosed as a strained groin. The injury has since been described by Xinmin Evening News as an “intramuscular strain of the right thigh” (though “groin injury” still seems like the popular diagnosis).
The journalist who wrote the Xinmin piece also noticed that Arenas was very lackadaisical during pre-game warmups and the layup line. When he asked Shanghai head coach Dan Panaggio whether Arenas’s old injury made him ill-prepared to play, Panaggio seemed defensive: “Who thinks that?”
Arenas is out for at least a week, and past that — who knows? Judging by the gloom around the team, it seems likely he’ll be sitting for a lot longer.
Even with former Charlotte Bobcats forward DJ White, Shanghai will have a tough time without its premiere offseason signee. This is the very epitome of small sample size, but let it be symbolic: during the Beijing game, on their very first possession, the Sharks didn’t get Arenas the ball; in the first possession after a timeout, only he got the ball. The latter worked out much better for the Sharks, as Arenas drained a three-pointer (forward to the 6:30 mark).
Savor it, Agent Zero fans. It could be the only shot he makes all season.