Arenas’ Suspension Not Enough

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.