Former NBA Star Continues Campaign Against White European NBA Players, Saying They Can't Play Defense

John Simmons | March 5, 2024
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Gilbert Arenas is doubling down on his stance that white, European-born players don’t belong in the NBA.

Speaking on an episode of his podcast, “Gil’s Arena,” the former Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies star and panel discussed why teams don't draft players who play good defense from American colleges. They mentioned that the league has prioritized offensive output at the expense of defensive expertise.

That left the panel speculating about what the NBA could do to fix this problem and make drafting defensive players a priority. That’s when Arenas - the man who likes it when Draymond Green attacks White European players - offered a bizarre solution to the league’s lack of defensive stardom (this part of the conversation begins at roughly the 7-minute mark).


“Get rid of all the Europeans,” Arenas suggested.

Did you hear a record screech in the background? Don't worry, I did too.

This wasn’t just a random joke, either. Arenas had a full-blown argument to support his preposterous solution.

“You go to college (in America) to learn defense,” Arenas continued. “What college do Europeans go to? They don’t go to college whatsoever. They have no athleticism…They have no speed, no jumping ability. They are a liability on defense. There’s 150 Euros in the league today. Name the top 10 defenders. None! Just Rudy Gobert and [Giannis Antetokounmpo]. Other than that, they’re just offensive players. They’re not defensive players.”

“Just offensive players,” eh? Arenas is right that Gobert (born in France) and Antetokounmpo (Greece) are really good defensively. Gobert leads the league in defensive rating, with a 104.0 mark. 

But there are two major flaws in this part of his argument. First, contrary to what Arenas said, Antetokounmpo is not in the top 10 in the category - he’s ranked 18th. Let’s just chalk that up to an innocent oversight.

Related: Lily Gladstone Screams Racism Over Chiefs' and 49ers' Team Names 

However, the second flaw is not innocent, it’s intentional. The only European-born players that are good at defense that Arenas mentioned (Gobert and Antetokounmpo) are both black. He (incorrectly) claimed they’re the only two Europeans in the top 10 defensively in the NBA. (As an aside, Victor Wembanyama - who is also black - is ranked second).

But he conveniently left out all the white Europeans who boast some of the league’s best defensive ratings.

Nikola Jokic (Serbia) ranks sixth in the league in defensive rating. Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia) ranks seventh. Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania) ranks 13th. All of these guys are at least ranked five spots ahead of Antetokounmpo. Oh, and they didn't go to an American college to learn defense, either.

In his quest to get rid of white European talent, he outright diminished some of the league’s best defenders because of their skin color.

Seems pretty racist to me.

To conclude his unfounded viewpoint, he said that the NBA changed its defensive rules just to ensure that white European players could have an easier time showcasing their offensive skills. He believes that this contributes to a lack of defensive-minded American players getting drafted.

“The NBA took away aggression,” Arenas said. “They took away aggression to open up the Euro league. When they first started getting here, it was too rough for them. They didn’t make it. So eventually, they softened the rules. They didn't soften the rules for the Americans. They softened the rules to open it up internationally.”


Arenas must have forgotten that players like LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry, and Kyrie Irving have all done their share of flopping and complaining about defenders and help turn the league into the softest in America. Oh, and by the way, all of these guys give minimal effort on defense…and they’re black.

If white Europeans also contributed to this no-defense trend, fine! But it’s not completely their fault. As we said at the beginning, the NBA doesn’t prioritize defense at all anymore because it believes it would make its product less appealing.

Arenas still hasn’t come up with a good reason to exclude white European players from the NBA. Frankly, it will be hard for him to do so.


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