Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas In Deep Trouble For Shallow Humor

Matthew Brown@mlb923Correspondent IJanuary 3, 2010

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Wizards 121-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Several days have passed since it was first reported that Gilbert Arenas, star point guard for the Washington Wizards, pulled a gun on teammate Javaris Crittenton over a supposed gambling debt.

Even with the passage of time, the story remains unclear and neither Arenas nor Crittenton have much to say on the matter.

The report evolved over time to mention that Crittenton produced a firearm of his own, creating a showdown of sorts in the locker room prior to the team's practice on Dec. 21. Later, it was reported that the two men had been embroiled in an argument on the Wizards' flight from Phoenix on Dec. 19.

In what few words he has uttered about the incident, Arenas has made it clear that the media has the story all wrong and that the involvement of the firearms was a joke gone awry.

Crittenton allegedly remarked that he was going to shoot Arenas in his surgically repaired knee, whether in jest or not remains uncertain. Arenas, who had stored the weapons in his locker because he no longer wanted them in his house, lined them up on a chair in front of Crittenton and jokingly said, "Pick one."

The morbid novelty of the situation has slowly worn off since the first report, and the seriousness of the consequences facing Arenas are coming into focus.

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Under the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are forbidden to possess firearms on team property. Arenas is in direct violation of this rule, even by the simple virtue of storing the weapons. The speculated actions towards Crittenton are subject to the investigation to be carried out by D.C. and potentially federal law enforcement.

From the NBA, Arenas could face a $50,000 fine and a potential indefinite suspension. From the law, Arenas could face a maximum of five years in prison with a fine attached to it. The investigation is still pending, and it is doubtful that Arenas will face such a harsh penalty from law enforcement.

But that shouldn't stop commissioner David Stern from making an example of both Crittenton and Arenas.

Stern has taken a hard stance against firearms, though the NBA Players Association has made it standard in contracts to allow players to possess them. This case poses the perfect opportunity to show zero tolerance for irresponsible behavior, especially involving weapons.

Even though Arenas has been calm and almost cavalier about the situation, it doesn't change the fact that he is in hot water because of an immature joke.

I can understand his reasoning for removing the weapons from his home. He says he did it in the wake of the birth of his third child and that he didn't want the weapons in his home anymore. I can almost understand that options are limited, and he has a busy schedule, so he could only find time to keep them stashed in his locker.

I cannot understand why he would put himself, his career, and the league in jeopardy in the name of a joke.

"But if you know me, you've been here, I've never did anything [involving] violence," he said. "Anything I do is funny—well, it's funny to me."

We have all seen the sort of antics Arenas is capable of, what with the blog, shouting various self-indulgent catch phrases, and being an all-around self-promoter, but this crosses a line that is difficult to overlook from any position.

This is the second weapons-related incident Arenas has been involved in. The first was during his time with Golden State, where he was charged with failure to maintain proper registration of a handgun while living in California. He served a suspension to open the 2004 season as a result.

It is possible that the team could invoke the morals clause found in standard NBA contracts and attempt to void the remainder of Arenas' six year, $111 million contract signed in 2008.

The move would signal the start of a potential rebuild and would open up Washington's options for other player movement and the future. The team is said to be weighing its options while the league and authorities explore the matter, though voiding Arenas' contract is still a stretch even under the current circumstances.

Arenas has admitted that storing the weapons in his locker was a case of poor judgment but hasn't seemed particularly worried about it. He is certain that the real story will lead to his exoneration, and he can put the matter behind him and the team.

In the meantime, the Wizards are still 10-21 and show no signs of breaking out of their current funk in time for any sort of playoff run down the road. Whether anyone admits it or not, this situation is a distraction for the team. By default, Arenas is a distraction.

In the face of most distractions, teams look to cut ties one way or another, and with few teams willing to take a risk with Arenas, this headline could be a blessing in disguise for a team and an organization that has fallen on hard times.

Note to Gilbert Arenas: For future reference don't base jokes of any kind around the presentation of firearms. And don't do something that you, and only you, think is funny.

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