Washington Wizards players Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon allegedly drew guns in a "standoff" in the Wizards locker room, an incident that the NBA, as well as federal and state officials, are investigating. Arenas claims the incident was all in good fun, and accounts of the situation have been blown out of proportion. What's the real story, and what fate awaits Arenas, as well as the NBA?
Usually, when someone recounts a situation involving guns as "all in good fun," that person is, in most cases, delusional or just plain stupid. Arenas is at least one, and probably both. To his credit, though, at least he didn't describe the situation as a "barrel" of fun.
Apparently, on December 21st in the Wizards locker room in the Verizon Center, Arenas put three guns on a chair and asked Crittendon to "pick one." Whether or not Crittendon actually chose one of Arenas' guns, or one of his own, is unclear, but reports indicate the two "drew" on each other. Is this what happens when two "point" guards face off. Thankfully, no rounds were exchanged, which is surprising seeing that Arenas has never passed up a "shot" before. If there's one thing Arenas I well-known for, it's his itchy trigger finger.
The dispute started over a gambling debt related to a card game. It seems that Crittendon contended he had a winning hand, while Arenas disagreed. I'm not sure what the card game was, but I'm guessing Crittendon found out that his seven of diamonds didn't beat Arenas' "nine of millimeters." Personally, I'm impressed with Arenas' homage to the Wild West. Heck, I though card-playing, gun-toting lawlessness went out of style in the 1800s. I bet Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp are looking down upon this proudly. And, judging by the sparse attendance for Washington games, I'm guessing the two icons would bet they could "outdraw" the Wizards.
No matter how the league handles it, the incident and subsequent publicity are a black eye for the NBA. But not for the NFL. Finally, former New England Patriots tight end Zeke Mowatt is free from being the most infamous professional athlete to "whip out his jammy."
For NBA commissioner David Stern, it's no laughing matter. By possessing guns in a team facility, Arenas broke a rule of the collective bargaining agreement. If Stern truly wants to make an example, he should crack the whip of justice by asking Arenas and Crittendon to take several paces, turn, and don't come back for awhile. That's the message Stern sent on Wednesday when he suspended Arenas indefinitely. Maybe Arenas' guns weren't loaded, but Stern indeed dropped the hammer as far as discipline was concerned.
When the Washington franchise, formerly known as the Bullets, changed their name to the Wizards in 1995, it was to avoid the violent connotations to guns that the nickname "Bullets" suggested. Who would have envisioned that 14 years later, two "Wizards" would be waving guns at each other. That's about as unlikely as it would have been for two "Bullets" to be waving magic wands at each other.
Arenas' tenure as a Wizard may now be limited due to his transgressions. Is a trade a possibility? Arenas' is certainly talented, as his 22.7 points per game average would suggest. He's a streaky shooter, and is often deadly from long range, but please, don't call him "semi-automatic." But do other teams want the baggage that comes with such a controversial star? It's safe to say the Heat and the Blazers want nothing to do with Arenas.
So why did Arenas feel the need to store guns in his locker? He claims he wanted them out of his home to keep them away from his children. That's a "hollow" point, although we must applaud Arenas for his safety concerns. In the Arenas household, there should absolutely be no guns, or at least not until the children are old enough to play cards, or Russian Roulette. But who needs more maturing in this situation, Arenas' kids, or Arenas himself?
So far, Arenas has done little to take responsibility for his actions, and instead has displayed a nonchalant, almost jovial attitude throughout the ordeal. "Contrition" doesn't seem to be in his arsenal. (Wouldn't it be really cool if Arenas appeared at a press conference to discuss the gun issue while wearing an Arsenal soccer jersey? I doubt Stern would find in humorous.)
So, beyond Arenas' punishment, what will the ramifications of this incident hold for the league? Will players have to submit to a frisking before they enter their own locker rooms? Will fans think twice before they yell "shoot" at games? Will a player's three-point shooting percentage be judged against the caliber of weapon he carries? Will players who ask a colleague to "hand me a magazine" be ordered to "be more specific?" Will "shooting the breeze" be banned in the NBA? Who knows? Whatever happens, it can all be blamed on Arenas.