I'm putting up the critical links from last night's game for posterity's sake, but obviously the game isn't what most people are talking about this morning, so this morning we'll focus more on the reaction from David Stern's decision to suspend Gilbert Arenas indefinitely from a variety of angles.
It's not the way to spend a birthday, is it? Instead of going to battle with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in one of his favorite arenas away from home, Arenas now won't even be on hand, and who knows when he'll be back on the court. It's sad because had Arenas been able to keep his mouth shut, he would still be playing. But, being his own agent, he didn't have someone to walk him through this. You would think the Wizards instructed him to keep quiet, but as is often the case, Arenas is his own worst enemy. Look at the contrasting side: Javaris Crittenton hasn't been heard from since this all began. His agent Mark Bartelstein issued a statement, and that's been it. Gilbert during the summer said that he wished that during his reoccurring comebacks that the Wizards had protected him from himself. Everyone came down on him, but maybe Gilbert was onto something. Maybe an agent in his ear could have kept him quiet. But then again, maybe not.
The photo -- published on the front of The Washington Post's sports section Wednesday and prominently displayed on ESPN's home page -- was transmitted by Getty Images under a contract with the NBA. But it was mysteriously excised from the Getty archive later in the day. "The image was pulled from our site because of the NBA," Getty official Cynthia Edorh said. "Legally, the NBA has the right to pull any of their images as part of the contract with Getty."
With the whole world paying attention, and with many of his fans just praying for him to hide in some old barn and be quiet for a few days, he launched one of the most bizarre and inappropriate series of Tweets imaginable, considering the circumstances. The tone, if nothing else, immediately undermined his apology. This really wasn't the time for jokes about different colored people throwing paraplegics into the ocean, nor was it the time for gauntlet-chucks like this: "pls dont take what i say serious or i will piss off from time 2 time becuz i dont hav a filter on my jokes."
Crazy happenings in Washington, DC. It will be interesting to see how this is handled by the WIZARDS and the NBA. Thank GOD that I am no longer involved with them.
Washington, D.C.: What kind of leverage does this give the team, if it's looking for a way to dump Gilbert's contract? Does he have to be convicted of a felony before any morals clause kicks in?
Michael McCann: This is the real interesting issue, in my view. Clause 16 of the Uniform Player Contract empowers teams to void contracts and is vaguely worded to include not only criminal behavior, but behavior that is immoral. It has been seldom used, however (a recent example was the Celtics using it to terminate Vin Baker's contract, and that wasn't entirely successful, since it lead to a financial settlement with Baker). Hypothetically, if the Wizards terminate Arenas' contract through Clause 16, the Players Association will vehemently object and file a grievance, which will be heard by an independent arbitrator. Latrell Sprewell (with the Players' Association help) was able to get his contract with the Warriors reinstated, even though he chocked a coach, which is arguably worse than what Arenas did. Bottom line: if Arenas contract can be voided, think about what teams will do with other controversial players who have long-term, lucrative contracts.
The consensus from both members of the Washington Wizards organization and the NBA office is that actually voiding the remainder of Gilbert Arenas' contract for his violation of league rules by bringing guns into the locker room is unlikely unless he is convicted of a felony. That is one of the actions that can automatically terminate a contract. Short of that, the Wizards would be forced to invoke the "moral turpitude" clause, which can be difficult to define. The thinking is that if Latrell Sprewell and Ron Artest could have their contracts remain intact after choking a coach and fighting in the stands, respectively, Arenas could not be cut loose for an act in which no one was physically harmed. Perhaps Arenas' antics have strengthened the resolve of Stern to at least give it a try.
The fact that I have to write a story like this makes me both sad and angry. It is sad for me, because Arenas is not only an engaging person to interview off the court, but he is immensely talented on it. When he’s healthy, he’s a legitimate threat to score 30 points, hand out 10 assists, hit at least one shot from half court and unfortunately, make a bonehead play or two. But for the most part, the good outweighs the bad. And so for me to now know that for the foreseeable future, Arenas won’t be around for interviews or dazzling on court exploits, is a bummer of epic proportions. But this Arenas story also makes me angry. I wonder why Arenas didn’t show more restraint and tact once he realized he was being investigated and all eyes were on him. I wondered why he even brought guns into the workplace, and why he was on Twitter non stop for several days. I was angry at the some of the irresponsible stories, jokes and conversations that I saw and heard as a result of this Arenas story coming to light.
In retrospect, I should have been shocked at the risky behavior for a guy making $11 million a year at the time. The media and fans who fell into the spell of Gilbertology, who raved about his unfiltered blog and laughed at his kooky quotes, bear some responsibility for creating his mindset, too. We encouraged this behavior. And when he found himself cast as a true villain for the first time in his career, he reverted to the character that made him a cult hero. Only this wasn't the time. Arenas snapped the one lenient bone in Stern's body -- the commissioner's belief that players are entitled to the full legal process before he drops his own hammer -- by openly mocking the situation. People wondered why the Wizards didn't suspend Arenas themselves for bringing guns into their locker room. Stern had told them, "I got this." He intended to let the local and federal investigations play out -- until Arenas forced his hand.
Gilbert Arenas should have known better. He should have listened to sound advice, if he got any. It's true that while this was a serious crime, he didn't shoot himself (like Plaxico Burress) or anybody else. He didn't drive drunk and kill somebody (like St. Louis Rams defensive lineman Leonard Little), or sexually assault anybody (like former NBA player Ruben Patterson). But Agent Zero acted like it was a traffic citation. Yes, Arenas is a near-complete goofball. But he's not stupid; just unthinking. Why couldn't he understand that this wasn't a joke?
Last season there were three teams that had winning records against the Cavs. The Lakers, the Magic and the Wizards, who won the season series 2-1 despite having just 19 wins on the season. It was a genuine rivalry. Key word being was. Wednesday's game had no edge whatsoever, the Wizards reacting to the news of Gilbert Arenas being suspended not by stepping up but by rolling over. Staring into Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood and even DeShawn Stevenson's eyes, James didn't see the fire. And he knew. "Tonight was nothing personal with Washington at all," James said. "I think it is over and done with."
Man, where's Bunk and McNulty when you need 'em? What a mess.
Posing shirtless and revealing his tattooed chest and torso, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas stars in PETA's anti-fur ad campaign "Ink, Not Mink." The ad was shot by photographer Rafael Suanes at D.C.'s Verizon Center, the home of the Wizards. "From the basketball court to the boardroom, from the controversial figure to the style icon, everyone's shunning fur," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Arenas shows that you can have a killer look without killing animals. Few industries on the planet are as foul as the fur trade, which bludgeons, electrocutes, and skins animals alive for the sake of vanity."
Great timing, PETA.
Back in 2007 when the Wizards played the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs and Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were injured, Jamison was a complete warrior. The Wizards had no chance in the series and the Cavs were loading up on Jamison. But he came to play every game like it was the Finals. He averaged 32 points and 10 rebounds in that four-game sweep and single-handedly made three of the games competitive. I'm no Bill Simmons when it comes to NBA history, but that has to be one of the greatest forgotten playoff performances in history. People weren't even making a big deal about it then, even though I certainly tried to highlight it. It was a courageous display and a reminder of the type of person and player he is. All of that is why the Wizards now owe it Jamison to trade him and give him a chance with another team. They have been grasping on to this group for years hoping for health, luck and the right playoff seed. But for various reasons, much of it plain bad luck and a rising superstar in Cleveland, they haven't gotten there. Now with the Arenas suspension and the Pollin death and the impending doom (DeShawn Stevenson called it a "black cloud" over the team), there are no more illusions. The dam has broken, it is over in Washington. There's going to be a new owner and new faces.