note: this was originally written on January, 6 2010 after the beginning of the Arenas conroversy
Stupidity. We all go through something in our lives where we lose our sense of reality and do something that our momma’s would surely slap us upside the head for. Example, when I worked at PF Changs as a bartender there was a point where I would make drinks for guests, not ring them in and pocket the money they gave me. One Saturday night I decided to take the money from guests and put it in my drawer and then take it out later to make it look legit on camera. Guess which night my manager decided to pull my drawer during my shift?
I was lucky enough to talk my way out of being fired, in part because my boss was easy to manipulate and really had no clue as to what was going on to begin with. However, some other acts of stupidity committed by the average person are not so easy to get out of… the Gilbert Arenas situation being one of them.
His act of stupidity is neither understandable nor forgivable. Bringing weapons, loaded or unloaded, to your place of work is the dumbest and most reckless thing you can do in any setting, especially in an environment that is considered a place for family entertainment. What Arenas did should come as no surprise to anyone that covers him because he is a genuinely unpredictable guy. Yet its puzzling because there are rules in place that strictly prohibit NBA-ers from doing this, and Arenas decided to be the guy to test the new rule.
His story seemed honest, if not peculiar, at first. Arenas told local media in Washington that he brought the guns from his house in Northern Virginia because he didn’t feel right about having weapons in his house with a newborn. Understandable, if not a silly due to the location where he brought them.
Then, as most stories with carefully hidden information, the truth came to the light, and what a truth it was. Apparently Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittendon got into a fight over some money Crittendon was owed from a bet with Arenas (side note: why do most stories of violence, in fiction or non-fiction, occur over money? Also why is this so prominent in the black community? Cue Arsenio Hall, hmmm). It got so heated that both men pulled guns on each other in a show of frustration over the money. There also has been mentioning of a fight between both men on a flight back from a road game in December. With the recent bomb attempt on a Christmas day flight in Detroit it makes both men look even more stupid than previous assumptions. Not to mention a rumor that Arenas laid his guns on a chair for Crittendon to view as a warning, which made Crittendon show Arenas what he was working with.
What’s even more ridiculous in Arenas’ assertion that the guns were part of a joke that he was playing on Crittendon; apparently Javaris missed the funniness of it all.
Look I love Gilbert Arenas, the Agent Zero persona, his fearlessness in his approach with the ball in his hand, the fact that he yells HIBACHI every time he launches a three, and his overall easy going attitude and loveable personality. However, Arenas did something that cannot be easily forgiven, or forgotten with the current state of gun violence in black communities involving young black men. Arenas set a horrible precedent by bringing weapons into his place of work, then shrugging it off like it was nothing in front of the media. While I understand an athlete’s need to feel protected, with stories like the robbery of the New York Giants’ Steve Smith floating around, there needs to be a sense of accountability when it comes to these things and Arenas showed none.
So what should happen now? David Stern has to make an example out of Arenas. I’m talking year-end, go home and blog example. Stern should suspend Arenas for the rest of the regular season for reckless stupidity and ignorant behavior. If you give Ron Artest one year for cold-cocking a beer tossing fan, then you can give Arenas the same time for having the ability to do great bodily harm to someone for his ignorance. I give Stern tons of flack for doing things that I feel are racially motivated (dress code), and watering down the game with his continuing allowance of horrendous officiating (not saying that he fixes games… no I wouldn’t go there… swipe), but this is one time where Stern needs to get on his high horse and make an example out of someone who showed blatant disregard for a serious rule. Crittendon shouldn’t walk away scot-free though, a good 30 games off would settle him down nicely.
The damage this does to Arenas, and the Wizards for that matter, is bigger than just a few million dollars both sides would lose. Arenas ruins a pretty decent reputation he had around the league as being a fun-loving guy, and probably a few million dollars in Adidas endorsements. The Wizards are now totally handcuffed in any trade talks for Arenas because who wants a 27 year-old 2-guard with bad knees, a bad contract, and a penchant for James Bond antics? The Wizards are looking at a bleak next four years with Arenas’ Godzilla sized contract eating up salary and very few draft picks. Any hope they had at getting any good value for Arenas has been shot to hell (no pun intended).
The only winner in this story is Tiger Woods. Finally there is another athlete with a penchant for stupid behavior that will push his story to the background to be forgotten sooner than later (oops, here comes the new Vanity Fair magazine). For Arenas, he is added to the long line of black athletes who decided to become a renegade and show that they were bigger than their environment and above rules. Like Plaxico Burress, Mike Vick and others he failed, miserably. He now will fall from the top of list of NBA elite players and find himself fighting hard to gain back the respect he lost for being stupid. Congrats Gilbert, welcome to the club.