Gilbert Arenas: One Bad Move After Another

Photo credit:  Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

January 7, 2010

Gilbert Arenas has made one bad move after another for two consecutive weeks.  His behavior begs the question:  How can one man be so misguided?  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  For two weeks Gilbert Arenas has been laughing, joking “tweeting” and basically making a mockery of his version of “Bring Your Guns To Work Day.” Gilbert is losing approximately $147,000 per game with no end in sight with an indefinite suspension.  Gilbert is NOT laughing now.  Neither are his teammates.  According to ESPN, one source with knowledge of the Washington Wizards’ thinking said that Arenas’ teammates who participated in the pregame gun simulation against Philadelphia have been told they will be fined.  Other media reports say those fines could range between $20,000 to $25,000 dollars per teammate.

This Gilbert Arenas gun story is not a local story.  How big is it?  All of the late night talk show hosts have talked about Arenas in their monologues.  Even Al Sharpton is in on the act.  Sharpton has already spoken with NBA Commissioner David Stern.   Rev. Al told the NY Daily News, “The NBA needs to stand up and send a strong message by dealing with this situation.”  Sharpton says his concern is a “culture of violence being perpetuated in professional sports.”

Before yesterday’s photo of Gilbert Arenas shown “mock shooting” his teammates before the Philadelphia game on January 5, 2009, Gilbert was probably going to get a 7-10 day suspension for bringing guns into the Verizon Center. (I’m not talking about the allegations of Gilbert drawing a gun on a teammate over a reported unpaid gambling debt.  Arenas denied those allegations and asked some members of the media to issue a “sorry” to him in their publication when this incident is over).

Try and follow me folks.  According to reports and statements from Gilbert himself:

  • Arenas brought four firearms to the Wizards’ locker room at Verizon Center at some point last month.
  • He has admitted this from the beginning, although he insists they were unloaded.
  • Arenas said he brought the guns to work to get them out of his house and away from his three kids.
  • He put them in his locker with the intent of turning them over to Wizards security personnel. Then he decided to use them to play a practical joke on a teammate.
  • Then, after a number of investigations were launched, Arenas, through an attorney, admitted that he was wrong and said he was very sorry.

The Washington Post reported that according to two first-hand accounts, Gilbert Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton got into a dispute over unpaid gambling debts during a plane ride, and threats were exchanged.  Two days later, Arenas set four unloaded guns in Crittenton’s locker cubicle with a note reading “Pick One.” Crittenton pulled his own piece, loaded it and chambered a round.

Let’s soak this in for a moment.  Can you imagine this sequence of events at your job?

Shortly after the release of “the photo,” Gilbert Arenas was suspended indefinitely.  In a statement Wednesday announcing Arenas’ suspension, NBA Commissioner David Stern said that while he was inclined to let the criminal investigation into the incident go forward before taking action, it was clear to him that Arenas’ behavior made him not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game.

Gilbert Arenas has done a lot of good things for this community, but unfortunately, most if not all of those good deeds will be wiped out and forgotten because of his lack of emotional maturity and his blatant disregard for the rule of law.

You see, “the photo” of Gil shooting his teammates with his fingers posing as guns rubbed everyone the wrong way.  People of all races, cultures, gender and economic stations in life think Gilbert Arenas was wrong.

I have talked to people at just about every rung of the economic ladder and no one can defend his actions.  Even guys in the hood who were staunch defenders of Michael Vick could not stand by Arenas on this issue.

This issue is bigger than Arenas, bigger than the Washington Wizards and bigger than the NBA.  “The photo” has severe economic implications for the NBA and that is what led to Gilbert’s “indefinite” suspension.  The image of Gilbert and his teammates making fun of the gun situation has been distributed worldwide.  NBA Commissioner David Stern has a fiduciary responsibility to protect his league.  Gilbert’s conduct has cast a negative light on the NBA and everyone associated with the league.  The league’s revenue stream is at risk.  Corporate sponsors don’t want to be associated with a league where employees people are so brazen that they can make a mockery of gun laws, rules and regulations.

Gilbert Arenas, like many professional athletes is not a thug.  His behavior is stupid and immature and perhaps, “thug like,” but he is not a thug.  Gilbert and guys like him have no clue about what it takes to be a team leader on and off the court.  When you are the star player and have a contract worth over $100 million dollars, this gun incident is not what the team or league meant when they said, “We want you to be the face of the franchise.”

Arenas “tweeted” an apology for the offensive photo, and later released what appears to be a “lawyered up” apology that read as follows:

“I feel very badly that my actions have caused the NBA to suspend me, but I understand why the league took this action. I put the NBA in a negative light and let down my teammates and our fans. I am very sorry for doing that.

While I never intended any harm or disrespect to the NBA or anyone else, my gun possession at the Verizon Center and my attempts at humor showed terrible judgment. I take full responsibility for my conduct.

Earlier today, I called Commissioner Stern to apologize, and I hope we will be able to talk soon. I look forward to the day I can return to basketball. In the meantime, I will focus on dealing responsibly with this serious situation and I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations by law enforcement and NBA authorities.”

Gilbert’s string of Twitter messages, media interviews and rants has served as a “Plaxico Burris type” of self-inflicted wound.  For the record, I am not comparing what Gilbert did to the Burris situation.  Burris’ behavior was far worse as he brought a loaded and concealed weapon into a crowded nightclub and shot himself in the leg.

The now famous photo of Arenas “mock shooting” his teammates coupled with his string of public statements and Twitter “tweets,” clearly reflect that Gilbert Arenas did not “get it.”  Either he did not understand the seriousness of the situation or he believed that the rules of law don’t apply to him.

If I were Gilbert’s employer (the Washington Wizards), my lawyers would be working around the clock to get out of that $111 million dollar contract with this screwball who has a long history of self-indulgent behavior that suggests that he has made a conscious choice NOT to conform to the reasonable expectations of the league, the team and the fans who purchase the tickets that help pay his salary.  Gilbert’s actions have implications that go far beyond the NBA.  Professional sports will be affected by his behavior for years to come.

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book“25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

One Response to “Gilbert Arenas: One Bad Move After Another”

  1. stephen belz Says:

    fantastic!!! should be required reading for every rookie in every league. maybe even incoming freshman at every college that want to play sports or have an athletic scholarship.

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