Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at 1:54 pm  |  54 responses

Arenas’ Suspension Not Enough

Gilbert needs even more grounding.

by Seth Gruen

A wrecking ball may not have been enough to knock some sense into Gilbert Arenas. After he was charged with weapon possession, Arenas acted as clueless as Kelvin Sampson at an NCAA compliance meeting.

In a decade full of controversy including Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, Plaxico Burress’ conviction on gun charges, Tiger Woods’ affairs, the steroid era in baseball and Adam “Pac Man” Jones’ numerous bouts with the law, the text book for How a Professional Athlete Should Behave 101 can be written with ease.

Clearly Arenas didn’t do his required reading. How many athletes does Arenas need to see go to jail before he realizes it’s not just a place you go when you play Monopoly?

Not only did he violate the League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement—not to mention the law by bringing guns into the locker room—but he made no effort to conceal his wrongdoings. Generally when someone does something that’s illegal or taboo, they keep quiet. Arenas aired his argument on Javaris Crittenton like he was on Jerry Springer.

He didn’t want his guns near his children. That’s about the only logical thing he’s said over the past month. But his options were endless and didn’t end at the Verizon Center. He could have locked them in a strong box or kept them at a shooting range. If they were for protection, he could have hired his own security team.

In his own ignorance he was cavalier regarding rules governing him as an NBA player and the laws of Washington DC. He had no regard for the media members, locker room attendants, Wizards security personnel and other people who walk through that locker room on a daily basis. He showed no remorse for the potential ramifications his actions could have on others.

He wasn’t in any danger and nobody was threatening him. Athletes are the targets of violence, but an NBA arena is as secure as the White House. It’s one of the last places his life would be threatened.

So, David Stern did what was only logical by suspending him without pay for the remainder of the ’09-10 season. Yet I don’t believe it’s enough.

Arenas did his part in antagonizing the commissioner. After the incident he continued to scorn the situation when he told reporters he didn’t do anything wrong. He later staged a mock shooting before a game with the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s as if he was trying to see how much he could escalate the situation before Stern would react.

There’s no questioning Arenas’ talent. He saw few scholarship offers out of college and had to wait until the second round of the draft until his name was called. The same attitude that causes his shortcomings, in part, has enabled his success. Entitlement is huge part of professional sports and particularly in the NBA when star talent rules. But he needs to realizes that his privileges end when he steps off the court.

Every time he enters the locker room he should be reminded that his franchise changed its name from the Bullets to Wizards because of the excessive gun violence in the Washington DC area. He spit in the face of his franchise, the League and his teammates.

His recklessness has given the Wizards no other choice but to rebuild. It’s expected that before the trading deadline they’ll try to trade Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison, both who were brought in to help Arenas make Washington a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Now the team has to start from scratch. Granted the franchise was struggling before Arenas decided to start a civil arms race with Crittenton. It’s possible the franchise won’t be able to void his contract because Arenas is protected by the Collective Bargaining Agreement that he violated when he brought guns into the locker room.

Since Arenas has proven difficult to trade prior to the incident, the Wizards will have to pay at least a portion of his remaining contract. Maybe he’ll get to test his market value in the most anticipated free-agent period in franchise history. It’s like grounding a kid by sending him to Disney World.

Then again, a grounding might be exactly what he needs—one in reality.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Please stop talking.

  • NDP

    Enh….what length of suspension would make more sense then?

  • http://slangrap.wordpress.com Alvin

    Comparing Arenas to Plaxico is skimpy and throwing Vick in the mix is a big reach. Losing a season, after finally getting healthy, is plenty punishment considering he Arenas shown a prior gun wielding habit. If he has another boneheaded incident, fine, throw him to the wolves. But until then, the suspension is apropos.

  • jdote

    I agree somewhat, I think what the public wants to see is some type of contrition and remorse for his actions. It’s scary to read Javaris Crittendon’s side of the story, in which he expressed that he legitimately feared for his life. In any event, Gilbert Arenas has suffered. He has lost endorsements, and lost over seven million dollars this year due to his suspension alone. He did embarass the organization, and they returned the favor by eliminating any trace of him. I just think once the general public sees contrition, and hopefully its genuine, that he deserves to be able to start afresh. I mean, despite all the negativity which stems from his horrid contract, it was great to see him finally ball and come back from devestating injuries. I think he’ll come back again, with a point to prove.. (I hope he signs with Mia or Philly)

  • ian

    hopefully Washington will void his contract and he will become a free agent. This summer will get even more interesting.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Uhm Seth… The Wizards blowing up the team isn’t Gil’s fault. They suck. Plain and simple. And since being suspended for the season without pay isn’t enough (do you realize how much money $9mil+ is?) maybe having him drawn and quartered would be more suitable for you? Or better yet, how about a firing squad? C’mon son… the ‘eff outta here with that BS.

  • David

    Myles – that’s directed at Gil, right?

    @ Seth – it’s scary that most of your examples for the decade of athletic excess are all within the last few years.

  • http://sportsonmymind.com DK Wilson

    When you tell how Grunfeld gave Gil permission to bring the guns to the Verizon Center and store them you and every other “writer” of your ilk will be known as something more than poster boys and girls for all that is wrong with sports commentary today.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    First, the Wizards changed their name because one of Abe Pollin’s friends got shot in Israel. Not because of D.C. gun violence, since D.C. gun violence was a problem long before Abe changed the name.
    Second, the author suggest that he’s disturbed the Arenas didn’t try to hide his wrongdoing. It would be one thing if Arenas was brazenly flaunting the rules and daring the league to act, but that’s not what happened with the guns. Nobody believes that. Instead, he may have just been ignorant of the leagues rules, just like MOST people are ignorant of many of the rules in their own workplace. Doesn’t excuse him from punishmet, but it does undermine the premise that he should be punished mroe because he didn’t skulk around with his guns.
    Finally, the author asks for more punishment yet doens’t say what he wants. Plus, he ascribes motives to Arenas with no factual basis, since Arenas’ own explanation of his motives differ greatly from the author’s assumptions. Arenas wasn’t trying to show Stern up, he just failed to truly understand how to handle a terrible situation he created. He’s admitted as much. Yet the author seems to believe Gilbert really just wanted to show Stern who was the boss. Why? Why make that assumption in the face of evidence to the contrary.
    This opinions expressed by this piece relied heavily on outrage over athlete behavior in lieu of actual facts or analysis. They misrepresented information, and they called for a serious punishment without ever discussing what that punishment would be.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    excuse the typos, they came from frustration and haste.

  • http://www.nooksurfer.com NookSurfer

    Let’s just be glad he’s not being paid to be smart

  • JoeMaMa

    David – let’s not forget Rae Carruth, Jayson Williams, Kobe Bryant’s Denver Delight, Chris Benoit, and Tank Johnson. any others?
    But anyways, this piece is subpar. No new information, just someone’s opinion. Hey, like this post!!

  • Duncan21

    This writer is a Haaaaaateeeeer!

  • Fat Lever

    Seth, just curious, but what do you think the punishment for Delonte West should be? Yes, Gil messed up, but his guns were unloaded. Delonte is riding around strapped to the gills, posing a much bigger danger to innocent bystanders. If Gil is suspended 50 games or so, then shouldn’t Delonte be suspended a full season?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I feel like I just read someone’s opinion blog…are you seriously trying to pass this legit jounalism? This article is a joke.

  • Jake

    Delonte West probably didn’t get suspended because he isn’t a high profile player,and he suffers from depression apparently so he get’s away with a lot more than someone who doesn’t have a chemical imbalance in their brain.I still don’t think Gil should have been suspended for the whole season though,I just think David Stern has a strong dislike for him….just like with Ron Artest and Spree,although it could be argued that those two are legit crazy.

  • William Syms

    disclaimer: This will have typos, if you are looking for correct grammar read the times here is the link (www.nytimes.com)

    We are all adults and should be able to stop swinging from the sacks of our favorite athletes for a minute to examine these situations in real life terms.For all intents and purposes Gilbert Arenas should be fired from his job and probably should go to jail. If I walked into my job and put four guns in my desk I would be fired. If all four of the guns were unregistered I would probably go to jail. If I put all four guns on a chair and told one of my coworkers to choose one, I would probably be charges with something that would land me in jail for about 5-10 years. I don’t think athletes should receive harsh punishments simply because an example should be made (free plaxico) ny is trippin but these people should be treated like the normal citizens they are and be held accountable in the same fashion you or I would be. We have to stop defending the bad behavior of adults because if any of us were to behave in this fashion the outcome would be drastically different. My main point, Get of the Swing and and think logically before you defend these people.

  • tavoris

    Allenp-you already said everything that needed to be said. Luckily, this idiot writer’s opinion has no bearing on what’s gonna really happen to Gil. The Wizards are NOT without blame for this situation, and to imply that they need a pass 2 “start over” is ridiculous. They are struggling because they signed injury-prone underachieving, non-defending player after injury-prone underachieving, non-defending player, drafted HORRIBLY, and have amassed SIX players on their team who should be playing shooting guard EXCLUSIVELY. Also, THEY profited off of Gil’s goofiness over the last few years. You GOTTA take the bitter with the sweet.

  • Fat Lever

    Seems like Stern will use the following quote as a way to absolve West’s arrest. Pathetic.

    “The issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one’s home or elsewhere. It is about possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated,” Stern said.

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    The Gilbert situation has become a vehicle for people to showcase their immaturity. There is a principle behind Gil’s stupid actions, stupid reactions, and the consequences of both. If you can’t understand the concept of principle, you can’t understand that the ramifications of what Gil did goes beyond the team, the man, and the guns. Great article.

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    @ALLENP’s first comment – I call bull&hit. Arenas “didn’t know the rules of the workplace”?! You’re falling into the mentality that a person’s moral behaviour and accountability are somehow the responsibility of those around him, and that emotional maturity needs to be regulated. You’re saying that Arenas, a multi-millionaire franchise player, did a stupid, potentially dangerous thing, but that he couldn’t have known it was stupid or dangerous because it wasn’t posted? What about where it should be posted in his grown-man’s heart and mind?

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    Delonte West didn’t bring his guns to work. That’s the difference. He brought them into public, and the court that represents the public should rightfully deal with it. I hope they throw the book at that fool and he goes to jail, like any other dumbass who brings loaded guns onto the street where kids and moms are. I think what Gilbert did was far less of an offense and far less dangerous. In the context of the law, he deserves a punishment, but not necessarily jail time. He also does not deserve to keep the amazing job he was blessed with and apparently does not appreciate. How many of us can bring a gun to work, play around with it like it’s a toy, and then make fun of the situation when we get caught, and ever get to work there again? That’s principle.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    And youre saying that the officials of a multi million dollar franchise were completely unaware that their employees had firearms in their locker? Or that they saved their righteous indignation for when the press discovered it? Please stop talking.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Stop comparing your job to a world famous multi millionaire. The responsibilities, perks and problems are not the same.

  • buppie

    Gil was stupid. If I bring guns to work, I go to jail. Just that simple.

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    We’re not talking about the officials of the franchise. If they did something wrong, of course they should be held accountable. You’re saying if Gil did something wrong…the officials of the franchise should be held accountable, but not Gil? Thanks for making my point. “It’s not Gil’s fault he was stupid and committed a crime, it’s_ _ _ _ _’s fault.”

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    “WORLD FAMOUS MULTI-MILLIONAIRE’S JOB: Provide for family, perform to the best of your ability, get paid proportionately to your value to the employer, act with integrity. MY JOB: Provide for family, perform to the best of your ability, get proportionately to my value to the employer, act with integrity…Hmmm, I guess your right. I’ve actually lived up to my job’s responsibilities, perks, and problems, while Gil hasn’t.

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    You can always tell when someone disagrees with a person who has a valid point, and has touched a nerve. They might respond with a point of their own, but always target or attack the individual making the point, as if one has to do with the other. Intelligent debate is a lost art.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Do you want more
    Did you read my post clearly? I explicitly said that ignorance of the law is no protection from its consequences. Which is why Arenas deserved to be suspended whether he was aware of the rules or not. It’s his job as an employee to know the rules of his job.
    But, I noted that most people in the REAL WORLD are unaware of all of their companies policies. Plus, I noted that the author wanted Arenas punished MORE because he didn’t hide his guns.
    So the logic is taht it’s better to sneak handguns into your job and hide them without anyone’s knowledge than it is to let everybody know you have guns with no attempt to hide them? That’s the safer and better move? That’s idiotic.
    And your personal belief is that guns should NEVER be brought to work. My personal belief is that if you have a legal right to carry a gun and you job doesn’t prohibit you from bringing it to work, then I’m not upset.
    Arenas was wrong because his job prohibited guns. He was wrong because he was in violation of federal laws. He was REALLY wrong for playing a joke involving guns.
    But, I disagree with the idea that he needs to be punished further, and I disagree with the author’s reasons for that request, which boils down to “His attitude was all messed up, guns are dangerous and these athletes don’t know how to act.”
    Those, in my opinion, are not valid reasons for advocating for a nebulous punishment.
    You’re the one behaving in an immature fashion, not the other posters on this thread. Point to an instance where someone said Gilbert was not responsible for his own actions as a man. Point it out.
    I’ll wait.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Gil committed a crime and will be punished. Disproportionately to similar crimes committed by his peers. And certainly disproportionately to his employer who HAD to know of those guns before the incident. Gil seems to be getting the sh*t end of the stick. This isnt about reassigning blame, but spreading it around appropriately. Gil, Critt, the Wiz and even Stern share responsibility in this situation. According to the CBA, a team plane is considered an NBA workplace but Bassy only got three games. Not to mention hes been involved in two other incidents with guns since. This suspension is about public outcry and not much more. Another difference between you and an NBA player. NO one cares what you do and unless you went on a killing spree or got your d*ck stuck in a park fence, no one would ever hear about it.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Don’t strain a muscle patting yourself on the back about your debating skills.
    Particularly since your first comment was a personal attack on the maturity of all the previous posters, and your first comment to me needed to result to snarky profanity to buttress a riduculous assertion.
    You want to debate?
    Debate what I wrote.
    Don’t make up arguments so you can climb up on your soapbox and hold forth on your favorite topic.
    Which appears to be how ungrateful athletes are for their blessings.
    Like you’re there when they do or do not pray to God. Like making a mistake is a sign of a lack of gratitude instead of a lack of good judgement.
    Good thing you’re not God, everybody on Earth would be in trouble if they had to show their gratitude for their blessings in a fashion approved by you.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    See, this guy brought a gun to work, kept his job, and eventually did no jail time.
    Oh my, I thought everybody who brought a gun to work got fired and went to jail. Oh my, how could this have happened?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Oh look, somebody else brought a gun to work, and they didn’t even get arrested!

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    AllenP: Tavoris @ 4:56 pm – I was responding most to this post, and to yours where you said that Gilbert failed to understand how terrible of a situation he had created. Some of the worst people in society deserve leniency by that rationale. I apologize if I was a bit reactionary about it, or even immature myself, but what bothers me is that while a lot of other players carry guns, Gilbert’s attitude was flippant and entitled, just as the original article stated. Most people in the real world understand right from wrong, whether or not they know their individual company policies. Would the guy at the coffee shop be suspended for a relatively short period of time if he brought a gun to work, or would he be fired and banned for life? What if, even out of embarassment, he reacted to the consequences by joking about it, because he knew they would hire him back? The principle for both workplaces should be the same.
    What’s troubling in the context of our society is the mentality that the blame for Gil’s individual stupidity should be spread around to the stupidity of the collective. You can bet that Stern has come down on officials over this, but hopefully for their individual actions, not Gil’s ability to exploit them and commit his own offense.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Since youre so intent on making inappropriate analogies (coffee shop? really?) heres another ‘real life’ scenario for you.

    If a school principal knew that a student had a gun in their locker and an incident ensued, no matter how stupid the student was, the principal would be more than partially responsible, no?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Man, wait until my links clear moderation.
    Two obvious example of people bringing guns to work and not being fired.

  • http://digitalthread.com AlbertBarr

    AllenP is really smart. Honestly. His posts at 6:11 and 6:17 are AWESOME rebuttals to DoYouWantMore at 6:08 specifically and all his posts on this thread in general. @DoYouWantMore: Gilbert is losing an insane amount of money and image credibility over this…his punishment is, as someone else said “apropos” to the situation. ANd like AllenP said NO ONE on any thread involving Gilbert has said Gil wasnt at fault…many of us just dont feel like crucifying the man for being an idiot. He made a mistake…he is paying for it…no reason he cant still have a chance at success/life/whatever.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    “The now ex-Wizards guard is tacitly stating that Grunfeld was directly involved in the hiding of the incident and, as first reported when just after the gun incident, that Grunfeld knew Arenas was bringing the guns to the Verizon Center and had the Wizards president’s blessing to do so.”
    -Sports on my Mind

    “This is a sport in which owners and front-office executives have mismanaged franchises into financial ruin, but the fall-back plan never changes: The public always wants to believe the worst of the NBA’s players, and they’re given the ammo to validate stereotypes. As much as anything, Arenas and the union gave the commissioner the pulpit to grandstand on gun control when past punishments were arbitrary and modest.

    From Sebastian Telfair(notes) with a loaded gun on a team flight, to Stephen Jackson(notes) playing shoot-‘em-up outside an Indy strip club, Stern never reacted so much to the severity of the transgressions as he did to the severity of the publicity. Stern doesn’t always play to the problems, but the public outcry. He’s a master manipulator of the message and the NBA messengers. Feel free to pound away on players, coaches and executives on NBA.com, but don’t you dare criticize the commissioner and his owners.”
    -Wojnarowski Yahoo! Sports

  • http://slamonline.com d.j.

    a man that makes $111 mill is constantly in danger buddy idk what america u live in, but umm quit hating on him cause he is richer and is doing better than u… i personally think that the punishment fits the crime if anything he should have gotten less

  • http://digitalthread.com AlbertBarr

    Good point, Myles. In fact, the prinicpal would likely be in WAAAAAY more trouble than the student.

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    AllenP: If my posts seemed condescending to you or anyone else, then that was unintended. You’re right. It’s a good thing I’m not God, but for different reasons than you think. Again though, don’t try to invalidate the point of what I am saying by pointing out the imperfection of the medium that it came through. Not everybody who brings a gun to work plays with it like a toy, either. Saying that my topic is “ungrateful athletes” is wrong, and simplistic. I’m trying to point out people’s willingness to excuse an individual’s behaviour by shifting the blame somewhere else is dangerous. I’m also saying that our attitude toward a consequence is just as telling as the initial offense. And give me a break. I’m not ‘holier-than-thou’ and I’m quite open to being corrected when I’m wrong, so don’t try to discredit my right to contribute to a conversation based on your opinion of my moral compass. You’ve made some good points. Not enough to change my mind, though. Can you say the same thing?

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    Myles: No. The principal would not be responsible. You don’t really believe that, do you?

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    I didn’t realize you posted that the principal knew there was a gun in the locker. My response to that would be that yes, the principal would definitely be in way more trouble, and rightfully so. Does that mean the school should lighten the student’s punishment? No. The student’s punishment still stands.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    The fact of the matter is that you cannot convince me or any other rational person that the Wizards werent aware of the guns in Gils locker and did little to nothing to remove them. Furthermore, I find it even harder to believe that once this incident occurred, the Wiz were completely forthright and cooperative. A more likely scenario is that they tried to keep it under wraps as they know it would make them look bad, but unfortunately the story leaked. Thats when they went from co conspirator to disciplinarian. As Woj noted, its one thing for the leagues players to perpetuate tired stereotypes and let the public lambaste them, another thing entirely to expose the bumbling practices of their employers. Theyve done nothing but enable and grandstand, but will receive no punishment at all. Aside from the disproportionate suspension for Gil compared to a habitual offender like Bassy, this is whats most troubling. Gil was wrong and has been punished. Im still waiting for justice to truly be served. Im not gonna hold my breath though.

  • http://www.realultimatepower.net doyouwantmore

    Yep, the organization is definitely just as bad as Gil, and yes it’s wrong of people to just ‘blame the spoiled player’. That has nothing to do with what I’ve been saying, at all. Maybe the Wizards are just trying to get out of that mammoth contract and the commish is plottin’ and scheming for good press. Maybe Gil’s getting scapegoated and Bassy and Captain Jack should be banned for life. Those are some great excuses.

  • Jon

    SEND HIM TO JAIL AND VOID HIS CONTRACT. that would be funny won’t it?

  • MikeC.

    doyouwantmore – I completely agree with you on this one. If I brought a gun to work and threatened a co-worker, I’d be fired from my job while I was on the way to central booking. I think Gil should have been suspended for the remainder of this season, and all of next season. Gil is a smart dude(when guns aren’t around anyway). It was probably his idea, or his lawyers’ idea, that he take the remainder of the season suspension and agree not to dispute it. The NBA’s CBA does not allow for double punishment for an incident. By taking the suspension for the rest of the season, Gil’s contract can’t be voided without a major doodoostorm from the Players’ Union. It’s like copping a plea for the crime, but copping a plea with Stern. It’s best for all involved because it puts it to bed.

  • Orlando Green

    He should be suspended 82 games and during that time should do jail time.

  • http://dsjfhklf.com Jukai

    Look, guys, I don’t agree with the writer of this article, but enough with the stupid talk. Many of you have written things far, far, far more idiotic than this writer’s opinion… Wayno and Tavoris, I’m looking at you guys.

  • luke

    AntAWn..just saying.

  • Neauxera

    For people who say that this punishment is not enough, You dont make the rules, so it really doesnt matter what YOU think. He broke the rules, and he has been punished by the leauge, as well as the justice department. So he loses adidas and other endorsements, there have been plenty of athaletes who have lost deals and only got better ones i.e. Kobe, Sprewerll, ect. The point that Another point to make, for all the people who say, “if i bring a gun to my job, i’ll get fired” that maybe true, but realize what you say and where you work, just look at the job position and think about it, you dont work for the NBA,MLB,NHL,NFL, ect. the same rules dont apply to you so get over it and move on

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    this is the most unprofessionally biased drivvel I’ve read in a while. What a load. “grounding a kid by sending him to Disneyland”? Do u really think Gilbert is going to be able to sign for anywhere close to the amount he is currently contracted to make if his contract gets voided? I highly doubt u do. But u so badly wanted to paint a picture where Gil got off easily when in reality that isn’t the case. He pled guilty in court and the system will mete out a punishment it deems is fair. He’s suspended for the majority of the season w/out pay and I’m sure has lost most if not all of his endorsements? Having guns in an NBA locker room is of course illegal, wrong, and stupid. But the guns were unloaded and he’s been punished to the tune of about $10 million dollars and possible jail time. I’d say that’s plenty.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    hate columns like this. why did u write this?

  • Stew Winkel

    I think the suspension was excessive. I have yet to see Stern explain himself – 2007, he suspends Stephen Jackson just 7 games for going to a strip club, starting a fight, firing his gun into the crowd multiple times, and pleading guilty to a felony. Arenas was dumb, no question. Jackson was reckless and is lucky no one was injured or killed. Yet Stern hands out two very different punishments, for at least related acts, and no one can question the mighty commish for one second.