by Lang Whitaker

First of all, Happy New Year everyone. We got an extra week off here at the SLAM Dome, and Wifey and I managed to finally pay a visit to Italy, which was tremendous. What did I bring back? About ten pounds.

Now, on Gilbert Arenas: I do not know exactly what happened in that locker room. Peter Vecsey, as much as I like and respect his work, doesn’t know exactly what happened in that locker room. But over at Deadspin, they did a good job cobbling together a mostly complete picture of what happened. Read that and come back.

I tend to believe Gilbert here, that this while situation stemmed from what was supposed to just be a dumb joke. If any current NBA player has a history of making dumb jokes, it’s Gilbert.

What part of the media has seized on is the gambling aspect of the story. The money stuff is interesting, and the numbers thrown around — he owed Crittendon $25,000!! Or was it $60,000!!!! — sound huge and fantastical. But money, at least when NBA players are involved, is always overrated.

For instance, Javaris Crittendon is making $1.47 million this season. I just did the math (very carefully), and to a person who makes $1.4 million a year, the amount of $25,000 is like $850 to a person who makes $50,000 a year. That’s still a lot of money, yes. But look at Gilbert, who is set to make $16,192,080 this season. To Gilbert, the $25,000 amount is the equivalent of $77 to someone who makes $50,000 a year. Not exactly the kind of debt that would seem to make someone desperate to resort to gun violence to make it go away.

What will happen with Gilbert? I think it’s important to remember that the legal system has to run its course before the NBA will make any sort of ruling. And that could take a while.

• In other news, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon that rap song from Zaza Pachulia. In that post, I mentioned that Joe Smith was going to email me a few tracks to post here at SLAMonline.

Well, he did. For a bit of background, I’ve been told by numerous NBA players the last few years that Joe Smith is the best rapper in the NBA. He goes by the name of Joe Beast, and he released an album last year while playing with Cleveland.

This year, soon after signing with the Hawks, Joe wrote and recorded a song called “V.I.C.T.O.R.Y.,” which is played at Philips Arena this season every time the Hawks run onto the court. It’s a great arena song, heavy on the bass and beats, and Joe manages to mention everyone’s name. (No brainer: rhyming “Teague” with “League.”)

Joe sent me a copy of the track, which you can listen to below. Joe noted that it’s their “team anthem.” And Joe added, “Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to get it heard on another outlet other than Phillips Arena. Hope you like it!!!”