NBA Commisioner David Stern Finally Makes Decision on Gilbert Arenas Case

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NBA Commisioner David Stern Finally Makes Decision on Gilbert Arenas Case
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Commisioner Stern certainly took long enough, but at the end of the day finally got it right. The NBA commisoner recently suspended Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for the balance of the NBA season for their part in a hand gun incident in the team's Verizon Center locker room. 

Stern had originally waited to see what law enforcement action would be taken before moving on the matter, but finally took a stand after a grand jury was empanelled and it became more than obvious that both men were in deep legal trouble.

Stern cost both men a ton of money and has likely ended their NBA careers. It's a very short step from here to the place where the Wizards will eventually be able to cancel both of their contracts without paying another penny. 

It's also hard to imagine an NBA team would take an Arenas with a felony conviction hanging around him just from the PR impact, let alone the idea of getting Arenas across the border for games in Toronto.  Stern knew this when he made his decision but at the last possible moment put common sense ahead of any PR debate.

What Stern did as well was send a warning, a warning that some players badly need to understand and heed no later than the end of this sentence.  Stern's message was this: "The locker room might be your home, might be your comfort zone but it is not the 'hood.  It is our office, it is a place of business and going forward we will treat as such. Ignore this warning as your own peril." 

The NBA was a twitch away from the unimaginable tragedy of a teammate shooting a teammate to death over a poker pot and yet there are those both inside and outside the game who claim the league is over reaching and over reacting in its decision.  Worse, some are claiming that Stern is reacting purely on a racial basis.  Let's be clear here: any thoughts along those lines are idiocy of the highest order. 

In the end, David Stern got it. Just barely and maybe just barely in time, but he finally got it.  A homicide in a locker room would have been suicide for the league.  It would have been difficult to take a league seriously going forward whose players kill each other and whose officials bet on and possibly threw games.  If you think sponsors and advertisers fled Tiger Woods quickly. you would have been astounded by this exodus.  It would have left a sonic boom in its wake. 

The NBA has problems and they are quite numerous.  A maxed out credit line that basically kept the league in business last year, a messy departure from Seattle, lagging merchandise sales and still no clear-cut guidance about its still murky officiating issues just to name a few.  But, a lack of action on Stern's part here would have flung the door wide open to a future that could have been unimaginably bleak. 

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