Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Wizards need to teach Arenas a lesson

Posted by Bill Koch on January 15, 2010

Think Gilbert Arenas gets it now?

Think again.

Arenas has reportedly negotiated a plea bargain with federal authorities after being charged with felony gun possession on Thursday. The charges stem from an incident in which Arenas allegedly brought a handful of guns to the Verizon Center, home arena of his Washington Wizards, and menaced teammate Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt. Arenas surrendered the guns to team security and swiftly came under investigation by both the NBA and local authorities, leading to Thursday’s outcome.

Terms of the plea haven’t been completely disclosed as of this time, but Arenas’ attorney said on Thursday that Arenas would face “little or no jail time.”

So let’s review. Arenas brought guns to his place of work, breaking Washington, D.C. law, Verizon Center ordinances against possessing firearms on the premises and NBA rules against bringing weapons of any kind into its arenas. His punishment so far is an indefinite suspension by the league without pay and a comparative slap on the wrist from the legal system, even in light of comments Arenas made immediately following the incident in which he said he didn’t feel it was a serious matter.

That’s not enough. Arenas, like most other athletes, values three things more than anything else – his freedom, his playing time, and his contract. The feds have made sure that Arenas will continue to walk the streets. Stern has suspended Arenas for now, but even Stephen Jackson only got 30 games for flying into the stands and helping to start a riot in Detroit in 2004. Arenas will eventually be allowed to play again, probably sooner rather than later.

Which brings us to the remaining four years and $90 million that Arenas has remaining on his current contract. He should never see a dime of that money for the rest of his life, and the Wizards might hold that power in their hands. Washington should start reading the fine print right now and do everything in its power to void the deal immediately.
The spin has already started out of the Arenas camp that the Wizards are in damage control and on the verge of financial meltdown, looking to strip payroll and rebuild with younger, cheaper talent. The fact is that Washington made a huge mistake when it signed Arenas to the six-year, $119 million deal in the first place. They gave top-5 player money to a player who’s simply not a top-5 player in the league and permanently shackled themselves to a shooting guard who isn’t enough to put any team over the top and lead them to a championship.

Arenas won’t understand any of this, and he won’t want to hear it, because he has a player’s mindset. Guys who play in the NBA and make that much cash think they’re bulletproof and invisible. Look no further than Charles Barkley’s comments during the TNT pregame show before the Celtics-Bulls game on Thursday. Barkley was livid at the idea that Arenas could lose the last four years of his contract, insisting that the Wizards were making excuses for their own problems. Barkley still thinks like a player, the man who famously insisted during his career that he wasn’t a role model. He didn’t consider for a second that if he brought guns to the TNT studio he would likely be fired on the spot, arrested and sent to prison. He didn’t think about the impact that a public figure like Arenas could have on a D.C. community that suffered through over 30 homicides and more than 1,400 violent crimes in 2007. He didn’t pay attention to neighboring Baltimore and the 238 homicides that were committed there in 2009. Barkley simply thought about how Arenas still deserved to get his, the same thing that Arenas probably still thinks after the government took pity on him and the NBA went light on his punishment. It’s now up to the Wizards to make sure that Arenas really gets it.

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