Gilbert Arenas' One-Year Suspension the Right Move

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJanuary 28, 2010

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards sits on the bench 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

The NBA finally decided what to do with Washington Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas and Jarvaris Crittenton locker room gun ordeal. For those who have been living in a cave or under a rock, here is a little back story before I get into whether the NBA did the right thing.

This whole dispute began on Dec. 19, 2009, when Arenas and Crittenton got into an argument on the team plane over a gambling debt. The debt, which has been reported as high as $60,000, was owed to Crittenton by Arenas.

Three days later, on Dec. 21 in the Wizards' locker room, Arenas laid out four guns (unloaded) on a chair in front of Crittenton’s locker with a note that said "choose one." Arenas supposedly brought the guns to the arena to get them out of his home after the birth of his daughter.

What happened in the locker room has been disputed by nearly everyone involved. From the number of guns Arenas had (he says he stored three guns), to the story that Crittenton pulled his own gun and loaded a round in the chamber, and finally to the story that both players pulled guns and aimed at each other.

While we will never know what truly happened in the locker room, we do know that Arenas has admitted to bringing guns to the arena. All the guns were stored in a lock box unloaded and without ammunition.

On Christmas Eve, it was reported that the NBA was investigating the locker room incident. Shortly after the new year, Washington, D.C. police began to investigate the incident.

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Arenas was suspend indefinitely by NBA commissioner David Stern on Jan. 5, 2010. The night after Arenas made a shooting six-gun gesture during pregame introductions the night before.

On Jan. 15, Arenas pled guilty in District of Columbia Superior Court to a felony weapons possession charge. Arenas now must wait until March 26 to find out his fate during sentencing.

Crittenton, who has not played a single minute this season, pled guilty on Jan. 25 to a misdemeanor gun possession charge. He was given one year of unsupervised probation.

Today, Jan. 27, Stern reached a decision as to what to do with Arenas and Crittenton. He has decided to suspend both players for the rest of this NBA season.

In a statement released by Stern, he said, "The issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one's home or elsewhere. It is about possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated.”

The question now that Stern has made his ruling is did he make the right ruling. Here is a look at one professional athlete who has been in legal trouble recently with guns.

The closest case to that of Arenas would have to be that of New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The NFL star is now in prison for taking a loaded gun into a night club and shooting himself in the thigh.

Burress was suspended for the 2009-10 while he awaited trial. However, he later pled guilty and is currently serving a two-year jail sentence. Most believe that Burress will be reinstated by the NFL when his jail term is over.

In all, Burress has so far been suspended for 20 regular season NFL games: the four final regular season games of the 2008-09 season and the whole 2009-10 season.

Now, back to the suspension of Arenas and Crittenton by the NBA today. Many thought at least Arenas should receive a two-year to lifetime suspension.

First of all, I agree with the suspension for the rest of this season by Stern. There was no need to make the suspension any longer, especially since Arenas could miss more time if he is sentenced to a long jail term.

Arenas could receive as little as probation or a suspended sentence to as much as five years in prison. If he gets any jail time, it is likely that he will stay suspended until his jail time is served.

Those who believe that Arenas should be suspended longer than a year or receive a lifetime ban are just plain wrong. There are big differences in the Burress and Arenas cases.

First of all, Arenas did not have a loaded gun. Yes, he did have a gun, but unless you are going to pistol whip someone, an unloaded gun cannot do much damage.

Secondly, unlike the Burress case, no one was hurt when Arenas brought his guns into the locker room. Burress shot himself when his gun slipped down his pants, and he tried to grab it before it fell out his pants when he shot himself in the thigh.

Finally, neither Crittenton nor Arenas tried to hide what they did. Both were, as far as we know, upfront with both the NBA and police. Burress got teammate Antonio Pierce to hide his gun, and Arenas turned his into the police.

While David Stern needed to come down hard on Arenas and Crittenton for bringing guns to a NBA arena, it was not necessary to throw both or one out of the league forever or longer than a year.

What both Arenas and Crittenton did was wrong and no one should bring guns to their place of work. Yes, they should have been punished. Still, no one was hurt in this whole affair.

No one should be punished for what might or could have happened. Otherwise, everyone in the country should be punished for the things they have done but no one was hurt.

People break the law every day and are not caught, like speeding, not wearing a seat belt, etc., and unless they hurt someone, most get into little or no trouble.

Arenas was wrong for bringing a gun, but he did not hurt himself or Crittenton. There never was a shot fired by either player, and we know that Arenas never had any bullets to fire.

It can be debated whether Crittenton had a gun or he even chambered a round. But we cannot start punishing people for what we cannot prove.

If anyone had been shot, I am sure the suspensions would have been longer, but for the information we have, a year is the right punishment. Anyone who wants more is just trying to over-punish these players for either who they are, dislike guns, or are a victim of gun violence.

In a world where we already overreact to everything, we have to remember no one was hurt here, and both players have said it was a misguided attempt at humor. While the joke was wrong, the players did not hurt each other or fire their guns.  

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