I Don’t Know Whether To Rethink My Position Or Commend The Public

Washingtonians seemed more likely to think about Arenas’s actions in the context of his antics both on and off the court, incidents in which he has, for example, filled a teammate’s bathtub with coffee or sliced up his teammates’ suits. But if the strangeness of a player who boasts that he takes nothing seriously made some locals reluctant to see his latest behavior as a symbol of any deeper social ills in professional sports or the celebrity world, it has not blinded D.C. fans to the gravity of Arenas’s violation of team and league rules — as well as the law.

“Gilbert Arenas has another thing coming,” Ben Ross said outside Verizon Center on Thursday morning, shortly before the Wizards removed a giant Arenas banner from the building’s facade.

“He’s not above the law,” Earl Bell said.

“He thinks he is,” Ross said. “Gilbert thinks it’s a . . . joke.”

“He needs to be prosecuted,” Bell said. “See if he laughs then.”

“Yeah, and fire your damn fingers again like they’re guns, Gilbert,” Ross said.

“What an idiot,” Bell said. “I hope they kick Arenas out of the league.”

“Gil needs to be serious,” said Tommie Williams, who was on his way to a pretrial drug test at D.C. Superior Court. (“Coke charge,” he shrugged.) “Guns — that’s a serious offense in D.C. He’s gonna find out.” “

via Public reaction in D.C. to Gilbert Arenas: Seriously stupid move – washingtonpost.com.

I’m not really comfortable in a world where the average dude off the street makes more sense than people that are supposed to be experts or well-thought columnists.

My new favorite Arenas slant?

“Delonte West wasn’t punished, therefore Gil should not have been! West’s was way worse!”

I agree. And West should have been punished, and likely will be when the legal stuff sorts itself out. But West didn’t do it on NBA property. And instead of making funny dances and pictures and then planning another one, or popping off on Twitter, West stayed in his house.  In the realm of things that are clearly within Stern’s jurisdiction, that is, his behavior in the context of representing the NBA? Arenas lands 100% inside that circle. What else?

“We’re making too much of this! Athletes have done much worse things! Sebastian Telfair! Damien Robinson! Leonard Little!”

Those are all cases that were mishandled in the past. So we should continue to mishandle them? We’ve learned to be more sensitive, more responsible, more discerning, and we should throw it away because we didn’t do a good job previously?

All these efforts do is confuse the issue. What’s the issue?

Gilbert Arenas brought four guns to a locker room where dozens of people move in and out of (players, coaches, staff, media) and then pulled them out in front of teammates. He then treated the situation as a joke, something to make fun of. He popped off on Twitter and was completely irreverent with how he treated it with the photo. You think people that are with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence thought that was just “silly ol’ Gil?”

Javaris Crittenton may have brought a gun out in the locker room and load it in front of teammates. We don’t know because the police haven’t taken action against Crittenton, can’t find a gun that we know of at this point (that could change), and the league hasn’t confirmed it.

If (once) they confirm those facts, Crittenton needs to be suspended, possibly for multiple seasons. He deserves a harsher punishment than what Birdman got. Arenas? There was evidence. They went and found the guns. They have photo evidence of the dance/skit/whatever. There’s no question. And they didn’t out and out suspend Arenas for the season. They suspended him indefinitely. Which sounds really bad, but also just means that they sent a message to Arenas, the rest of the Wizards, the league, and the world. “This is not acceptable and there will be consequences for not taking this seriously.”

But no.

People want to confuse it, to attack Stern. And hey, Stern screws up about once a season. He’s got a pretty big job, and in small jobs, people make mistakes. This doesn’t excuse what could be perceived as arrogance, or the other things that he’s criticized for but when we… wait!

GILBERT ARENAS BROUGHT GUNS TO THE LOCKER ROOM AND THEN LAUGHED ABOUT IT. WHY DO WE KEEP GETTING SIDETRACKED?!

I’m not saying there aren’t more complex issues. There are. Hundreds of moving parts here. And we’re still finding out things, but we know a LOT about Arenas. And questioning the reporting, the league’s response, and people’s reactions? Those things can come later.

Let’s seize this moment to make it clear that gun ownership is a right that comes with responsibilities, and being a public figure doesn’t mean you have to be a role model, but it does mean that your public behavior can affect your job. You know, like any other job in the world.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.