Monday, January 4, 2010

Basketball Shooters

That picture is the latest technology in basketball shooting equipment (the Gun 6000 from I don't know if the pros use the machine, but there's a lot of preparation for shooting baskets (and other basketball players) going on in the National Basketball Association. Added to the outside shot, the fade-away jump shot, and the free throw shot are the .45 shot and the .357 shot.

The Washington Bullets changed their name to The Wizards awhile back, so it seems the players decided to bring back the bullets, in a slightly different way. In a locker room disagreement (if you can call guns at high noon a "disagreement"), all-star player Gilbert Arenas reached into his locker and pulled out a gun and pointed it at fellow player Javaris Crittendon. Crittendon had been pushing Arenas to pay him a gambling debt. Before pulling the gun, Arenas is reported to have shouted "I'm not your punk (or bitch, depending on which version you believe)." Not to be outdone, Crittenton then also pulled a gun and pointed it at Arenas. It's unclear whether Crittenton had his own gun, or pulled it from the ample supply in Arenas's locker.

Another version making the recent rounds of speculation is that Arenas pulled three guns out of his locker and laid them on the bench between the lockers. Then he told Crittenton to pick one. Since that was probably not the offer of a gift, the logical assumption is that it was the thug version of "draw, pardner." Crittenton allegedly declined, saying that he had his own gun, thank you very much. Then Crittenton proceeded to pull his gun out.

Those are two of the current versions, and it would be bad enough if that were all there was to it. But now it appears that Arenas not only had guns, but Wizards management already knew about it. The story was that Arenas had a small arsenal that he had brought to the locker room because he didn't want his little ones in Virginia to get hold of them and, like, hurt themselves. What a good dad! So he brought them to the arena, and turned them over to security. And security then promptly put them into his locker? Hmmmm.

Whether Arenas actually ever turned the guns over to security is highly questionable, but even if he did, bringing guns to the arena is a clear violation of NBA rules. This is not Arenas's first run-in with league rules and local law regarding guns. He was arrested, and pled guilty to carrying a concealed weapon in San Francisco six years ago. So it's clear that the Wizards' management and quite likely the other players knew about Arenas's propensity for owning and possessing guns. Not illegal, at least until you conceal it in D.C. or point it menacingly at someone nearly anywhere. And there seems to be plenty of evidence that management also knew about Arenas's serious gambling habits. Arenas doesn't deny this, but assures everyone that he never gambles on basketball (which could get him suspended or fired, unlike locker storage of arms that rival the local National Guard armory).

The D.C. police are now investigating Arenas for having the guns in his locker (even after Heller, the police can investigate to determine why and how many guns a person convicted previously of illegal possession may have if there's suspicion that the guns are not solely for self-defense and may have been unlawfully purchased).

Although Arenas (and Crittenton) refused to speak with reporters, Arenas was fairly free with his tweets. His first entry on Twitter was "I wake up this morning, and seen I was the new JOHN WAYNE. Imao media is too funny." Later in the day he tweeted "I understand this is serious, but if u ever met me you know I dont do serious things im a goof ball this story today dont sound goofy to me." I assume Arenas was drafted out of college. An English major, perhaps? Some time after the incident, however, Arenas did respond on Twitter briefly to a blog written by a Washington Post reporter. Says Arenas: "That's not the real story," and later, "I saw the story. Very compelling. Some real O.K. corral stuff." Huh? Did Arenas fantasize that he had been part of the gunfight at the OK corral?

Wizards' management, speaking on behalf of itself and the NBA announced that "We are continuing to cooperate fully with the proper authorities and the NBA and will have no further comment at this time." At least now I know why basketball is called a non-contact sport. If the other guy gets in your way, pull a gun. No need to hit him with any body parts. It makes me wonder if they'll extend this fun onto the court. "And now, folks, Arenas looks like he's going to take the outside shot."

This whole thing would be funny if it weren't so serious, and indicative of how sports figures, and their enablers, believe they are above the law. The NBA has said that "if Arenas is convicted of a felony, he could be subject to having his contract with the Wizards voided (emphasis added)." Ditto for Crittenton, although it would only cost Crittenton $1.48 million for the final year of his three year contract, while it would cost Arenas about $100 million for voiding of the remainder of his six year contract. The upside is that will save Arenas more in taxes than I'll make in my entire life.

I look at Arenas and Crittenton as a couple of overpaid thugs with a talent for basketball. They deserve plenty of punishment, if nothing more than termination of their contracts and banishment from the NBA for life, with or without a felony conviction. But it shouldn't stop there. It appears that the Wizards management and staff need a serious housecleaning. And if it's happening at their arena, how about others? I'm guessing that the Bullets/Wizards aren't the only ones who are packing. The league itself has left itself open for accusations of willful blindness to the possible criminal actions of its players. One more example of how despicable the worship of "sports heroes" has become. At least Arenas didn't shoot one of Michael Vick's dogs, so I suppose PETA won't be joining the chorus of criticism.

LATE UPDATE: Well, this is refreshing. The New York Post and Fox News report that the Reverend Al Sharpton had a lengthy conversation with NBA Commissioner David Stern, blasting Stern for the ubiquity of guns in sports. Appparently a face-to-face meeting is in the offing.


Tennessee Jed said...

Good morning, Hawk. It's nice to be back safe and sound in East Tennessee after the holidays. Thugs and sports stars, eh? It has become so common place we almost don't notice. I can't even watch the NBA anymore, but even at Tennessee, the problem is becoming all too frequent.

One interesting sidebar to this is the speculation about Tiger Woods and will he survive. It is not a bad question since Tiger owes his success to people like my wife and mother-in-law (e.g. non-sports fans.) Kobe can do a lot worse and survive because his fan base expects bad behavior.

Unknown said...

It is beyond me why sports teams think they just have to have a particular person regardless of how criminal-like their previous behavior has been. The world will still turn, the sun still come up if they would pass on these thugs, but they don't. They hire them then usually regret it. For example the Pacers and Ron Artest.

Interestingly, these characters are usually on "good" behavior their first year with an organization. If a team "must" hire one of these bozos, they should do it with one year contracts.

Writer X said...

I'm with TennJed. I stopped watching the NBA a long time ago. What a bunch of thugs. There are probably lots more stories like this one, unfortunately.

No doubt their PR people will get them into the next commercial promoting childhood obesity or Habitat for Humanity. It's so transparent that it's laughable.

AndrewPrice said...

I stopped watching basketball years ago for the same reasons.

They let athletes get away with everything because "they have talent", then these leagues set up systems that let them become repeat offenders without any consequences and then people are surprised when they go around comitting crimes and hurting people.

StanH said...

As our friend Rush once stated about the NFL, that it sometimes looks like a turf battle between the Crips and the Bloods.

As others have stated up-thread I quit watching the NBA after the Larry Byrd, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan era. I like college ball at times, March Madness is exciting and the thugery is not at the forefront.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: That's an interesting thought, and likely true. Nobody thinks these basketball stars or the football players are angels, but they did think that of Tiger. I just wonder how many liberals will forgive the guns.

Unknown said...

Positron57: Welcome. I've never looked at the actual contracts, but I like your concept. It would shake up the leagues, make the players more legitimately competitive, and be a quick remedy for dangerous or criminal behavior. Now we just have to convince the team owners that they might have to give up a star player at the end of a year because of a better offer.

Unknown said...

WriterX: I watch some pro football and a lot of college football, but like you and Tennessee, but I gave up on basketball years ago. I stopped watching college basketball at the end of the UCLA John Wooden era, and I used to have season tickets for that. I never enjoyed pro basketball.

Unknown said...

Andrew: We feel very much alike about that. The "hero" thing is bad enough at the college level, but it's part of the money/talent/image mystique at the pro level. And it results in the blind-eye to bad behavior syndrome that only gets worse when they start getting multi-million dollar contracts.

Unknown said...

StanH: I guess I understand extra aggressiveness among those who participate in full contact sports--it's a survival thing. And as long as it doesn't go too far, it's not completely unforgiveable. But what's the excuse in non-contact sports? And why would guns in the locker room be tolerated in any case? At times these shenanigans remind me of pro wrestling excesses, except everyone knows (or should know) that the wrestlers are acting. These basketball stars actually mean it.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I've talked with a lot of people about this re: pro football. It's amazing how much the system they've set up is designed to fool the public into thinking that they've taken steps to roust out the bad guys and the thugs, when really they are just covering for them.

At one point, my favorite football team had two guys on it who had beat up pregnant women. Nice, huh? And that wasn't counting the rapist and the drug dealers and the DUIs.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I have a feeling that's only the tip of the iceberg. Violence unrelated to the game itself seems to be common even at college level. I don't know what the solution is, but it shouldn't be allowed to go on this way. An occasional slugfest is to be expected, but assault and battery, rape, animal abuse and other criminal acts should not be a norm.

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