Before Gilbert Arenas walked out for good, he was still so sure he could get out of this mess. And why not? The Wizards never held him accountable for anything. Agent Zero never believed this would be a big problem for him. He was so sure he was smarter than them all. He never realized his comedy act was over, and that suddenly the commissioner cared about guns, because the headlines told him it was time. Gilbert Arenas goes away now, and that ultimately falls on his failures, on him. Just remember something, though: All these lousy owners under Stern, all these soft franchises, enable and encourage a league in which the stars have always been able to do whatever they want, however they want to do it. Gilbert Arenas walked into work with a bag of guns and had good reason to believe no one would’ve done a thing about it. That’s how the Pollins ran a franchise in Washington, how little Stern’s past punishment on guns scared everyone.
The indefinite suspension came when Arenas refused to behave himself or show necessary seriousness. The consensus has long been that Stern wanted Arenas to shut his mouth (and his Twitter-hole) and stop playing FINGER GUNZ; this move served as a de facto gag order. After all, Arenas was bound to be lose some games, so why not start eating into them now? Stern called him "unfit to play", which one would assume was also his attitude about Artest after The Brawl. Except this reference was to Arenas's lack of remorse, not his actual offense (Artest didn't do himself any favors by promoting his new album when he should've been apologizing, but his ditch was already waiting). Stern exercised his "workplace offense" prerogative not when Arenas brought a gun to the Verizon Center, but when he failed, or refused, to play the public relations game. Here's where we pause and note that when Stern takes things personally, he lashes out. He had cut Arenas some slack and had it thrown back in his face. Yet if you retrace the logic of Stern's actions, it would appear he chose to suspend Arenas for the wrong reasons. Had he followed through early, the "workplace" rationale would be intact. Instead Arenas went away because he embarrassed the league and humiliated Stern. This goes against all precedent, and makes you wonder if now all post-arrest behavior can be dealt with thus.
Grunfeld said he is allowed to negotiate with other teams about a possible trade involving Arenas during the suspension. He also revealed the Arenas has been working out with team trainers at a location away from the Verizon Center. Otherwise, Grunfeld and the Wizards have kept their distance from their three-time All-Star, removing his likeness from nearly every nook and cranny of the arena. Grunfeld cited examples of how the team has supported Arenas in the past, but he added: "When something serious like this happens, people have to be responsible for their actions. Bringing guns into the locker room, bringing guns in the workplace, is not a responsible act."
Here's where it matters that, despite his new reputation as a gunslinging maniac, those close to Arenas see him as a decent human being who has made some mistakes. I don't think you'll find any of his colleagues at Wizards headquarters are repulsed by the idea of working alongside him. David Stern said today, after meeting with Arenas, that he believes the player is genuinely contrite, and that's before he learns about his sentence and possible incarceration. Which means there are some seeds of reconciliation. Gilbert Arenas mending fences with the Wizards, and Wizard fans, may seem unlikely. But it's hard to envision any scenario that's more likely.
Bringing Arenas back next season is another option, though hardly a palatable one. League sources said Grunfeld was shopping Arenas before the December incident. And Arenas has told confidants that he has no desire to play for Washington again. His relationship with Grunfeld, which was once considered one of the strongest player-executive relationships in the NBA, has eroded to the point that the two have barely spoken over the last two months.
Arenas still awaits sentencing March 26 on his own guilty plea to a felony gun possession charge -- and the status of his contract with the Wizards, which has four years and more than $80 million left after this season, remains in doubt. Both Stern and Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld denied Wednesday that voiding Arenas' contract had been discussed, contrary to published reports that said that Arenas, in a meeting with Stern earlier Wednesday, had talked to Stern about wanting his contract voided in order to get away from the Wizards and Grunfeld, whom he previously had accused of not supporting him during the controversy.
Arenas's suspension would be the NBA's third-most severe non-drug-related suspension. Ron Artest was suspended 86 games (73 regular season and 13 playoff postseason) for his role in the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan in November 2004, and Latrell Sprewell was originally suspended for a full year for attempting to choke then-Golden State Warriors Coach P.J. Carlesimo in 1997, but an arbitrator later reduced the suspension to 68 games. Crittenton's 38-game suspension is the fourth highest. Before this, the longest suspension for a gun-related offense was seven games, which Stephen Jackson received after pleading guilty to a felony count of criminal recklessness after firing five shots near an Indianapolis strip club in 2006.
The players union had held out some last-minute hope that Stern would allow Arenas to return to the NBA sooner than next season if the union would concede to amending the current Collective Bargaining Agreement to include a zero-tolerance gun policy. No formal proposal on the specifics of possible penalties for the policy was exchanged, sources say, but the union was open to the idea had the commissioner been willing to shorten the suspensions of Arenas and Crittenton.
Why would Arenas request that his suspension be extended to the remainder of the season? My guess is that he does not want to play for the Wizards ever again and decided that time can be used to work out some arrangement whereby he keeps his money [or most of it] and goes somewhere else. The Wizards might seek to void Arenas contract using the standard morals clause, but NBA rules forbid a player being punished twice for the same offense, which is probably what voiding the contract would amount to once he was suspended by the NBA.
For while being gifted with exceptional talent most mortals would surrender years on their life to play with for just a short time, Arenas has been exposed as something much less than an athletic star. He's a common, street level criminal. One who just happens to wear tailored suits. A convict in the making who may luckily have been revealed before he truly decided to take a life with what would have been spun as an "accident". His complete disregard for human life and a simple level of societal behavior puts him just above the gang-bangers who revel in their ability to shovel guns in the face of anyone who dare to question their superiority.
Without that hope, I can't bring myself to care about the Wizards anymore. It's the nature of the NBA. It just sucks so hard. Any other sport there is always hope for next year. Without LeBron or Kobe or Wade or Duncan there is none in basketball. With the Caps currently bludgeoning the league into submission like a red-headed stepchild, I've got enough to occupy my fan energy, anyways. I'm drooling like a Pavlovian dog at the latest Redskins off-season hire previous negativity notwithstanding. I'm busy. So someone wake me when the Wizards luck into the next NBA Superstar. Until then...yawn.
Those are all of the relevant links I could find, if you're looking to depress yourself through another medium, I suggest watching this video: