They always say the higher up on the perch you are the harder the fall is...
A little more than three weeks ago, Gilbert J. Arenas was suspended indefinitely by David Stern following the Wizards-Sixers game. The suspension was brought on because of the original reports of a wild west showdown , a most unfortunate post game presser where he called David Stern a mean person and the ultimate dagger—the Finga Gunz picture.
Now reports are that Gilbert meeting with David Stern today and the outcome was a season long suspension, one that has an amazing twist to it—Gilbert asked for it. I'm really quite dumbfounded by this.
It's one thing to admit guilt and ask for forgiveness. It's another thing to ask the commissioner of your league to extend your punishment for the rest of the season because you are pissed off with the organization.
Now in all fairness, if Gilbert's choice, as it is being reported now, was to accept the rest of this season or a full 82 games, I understand the choice. If he went in saying he never wanted to play for Ernie Grunfeld again, I'd have a harder time accepting his thought process from a fans standpoint.
That being said, I have done my fair share of supporting Gilbert throughout his tenure here in Washington. Some things were easy to defend, others not so much. Most of us will never know the inner thoughts of Gilbert Arenas, but in a few years, most won't care.
If you'd like to follow the history of Gilbert's crazy antics you should go to Gilbertology . Those who wish to call Gilbert a bad person are simply misinformed.
We are talking about a man whose charitable foundation has done the following:
-Created Gilbert’s Annual Christmas Dream for Kids, which is currently entering its seventh year. One year, Gilbert’s Annual Christmas Dream treated 300 kids to a holiday event, dinner, a Wizards game, and holiday presents.
-Donated goods totaling $18,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
-Raised over $ 215,000 for public schools in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area with its inaugural “Gilbert Scores for School.” Gilbert donated $100 per point to the designated school during every Wizards home game.
-During the summer of 2007, partnered with Beyonce’s Survivor Foundation to do a pre-concert canned food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.
-Gilsarena.com hosted an online auction raising over $75,000 for the Zero Two Hero Foundation.
-Donated to the Arial Home Initiative.
Does this mean that he should not be punished for what he did? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that Arenas had a series of bad judgment calls and he should be punished by both his employer and the District of Columbia.
Being the leader of a team or an organization means standing up and taking the good with the bad. When you are given that type of responsibility it is your job to lead by example both on and off the court. That leadership was completely lacking and frankly every bit of ammo, no pun intended, fired his direction is completely warranted.
There will be many fans who say the organization gave up on Gilbert. My argument is simply that signing a man to an $111 million contract and then pretty much bringing in a coach to help you reach your potential is not giving up on you. Gilbert violated the law. He pleaded guilty to a felony. Gil created this chaos for himself.
We are told that we cannot relate real life to professional sports, yet if any regular Joe were to do what Gilbert did, that person would be sitting in a jail cell right now.
So why are our favorite athletes held to different standards?
A lot of gripes were made about the removal of Gilbert's banner and the removal of all things Gilbert Arenas from the Verizon Center.
What would you have recommended they do? The Wizards, whose organizational motto going into the season was Character, Commitment, and Connection, cannot have a banner hanging outside their building with a player on it—their leader—who is potentially facing felony gun possession charges. If you can't understand why that is true, I can only ask you—how would you explain that to your kids? It's okay to carry an unlicensed gun and wield it around, joking or not?
Do you really believe that Abe Pollin would have handled this any differently if he had actually lived to witness these sorry events? I honestly believe that Abe would have done everything in his power to void Gilbert's contract the first day he heard the report. We are talking about a man who changed his team name after 30+ years due to gun violence.
A Wizards fan who reached out to Wizards Extreme earlier in the day, @SaleemTheDream , reminded me that a lot of Wizards fans had already given up on Gil and they used this latest incident for justification of ousting him from the franchise. I cannot disagree with this notion at all. It was known for quite some time by people in the DMV that Gilbert had been losing favor quickly, much of it due to his lack of playing time and injuries.
Fair or unfair, Gilbert is hardly the first athlete to go through this type of unfair judgment by fans. I believe that the remaining portion of Gil supporters and Wizards fans in general were hurt by the fact that this same Wizards team spoke of change from old habits. It preached of a new coach and with that a new direction. The players talked about championships and not settling for playoffs. Not only that, but Gilbert talked about being the leader on this club. This season was supposed to be set up perfectly for him.
Coming in, Flip Saunders was a man who had done wonders for the careers of Sam Cassell, Terrell Brandon, and Chauncey Billups. Hell, even Stephon Marbury co-existed with Flip; Gilbert should have been a piece of cake. Ernie Grunfeld believed Flip could have done wonders with a unique talent like Gil. But it's all for not now.
The saddest part about this is that we are not even talking about basketball. Arenas' undoing was due to things completely unrelated to the X's and O's of playing basketball.
Now the Wizards are left to find out if they have a long term solution in Randy Foye, or if a rebuild includes finding another PG in addition to dumping 80 percent of the roster.
Regardless, I don't see how this is not the end of the Agent Zero era in DC. Arenas will undoubtedly end his Wizards career with the same type of craziness with which it began. According to Gilbert folklore, his Wizards career started with a series of coin flips and now, seven years later, it will seemingly end with him asking for it to be over.
Gilbert J. Arenas, the man who before this season would have been remembered most for...
will now be remembered for...
The Wizards survived one famous exit...
Now let's see if they can rebound from another one.
Joe is a media rep for www.wizardsextreme.com.
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