If you haven't heard by now, former Wizards guard Javaris Crittenton is wanted for murder after an alleged incident where he killed a 23-year old mother of four in a drive-by shooting earlier last month. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Crittenton was looking to avenge a robbery from last April where some jewelry of his was stolen. He saw the man who robbed him on the street, but his shot missed him and struck the 23-year old mother instead. Crittenton is currently in Los Angeles, and Atlanta police is working with the FBI to find him.
Those are the allegations. Here are a few scattered thoughts. I want to emphasize this very clearly: this is an incredibly tough thing for me to write about, and it's an incredibly tough thing to make any sense of right now. I hope you'll be able to bear with me as I empty my brain a bit here.1. There's a lot of writing going around now about just how sad Crittenton's fall from grace has been. We'll talk about that a bit later, but let's make one thing very clear. The truly sad part about this story is that an innocent 23-year old mother of four is now dead. We must not lose sight of that.
2. As for Javaris, Jason Kirk of SB Nation Atlanta sums up the shock everyone has:
We still don't know for sure that Crittenton did it, but if that stupid bout of gunplay turns out to have been foreshadowing all along, we're still left wondering what changed for Southwest Atlanta Christian's four-time team captain and 3.5-grade point average student. Whatever turned a kid praised by his teachers, coaches and principals into an alleged killer, it did so in less than half a decade.
How is that possible?
I don't have too much to add to what Kirk wrote. Go read his piece.
3. As Kirk writes, one could construct a rough timeline for Crittenton's fall from grace. When he parted ways with longtime friend and agent Wallace Prather Jr. just before the gun incident in 2009 (in a contract year, no less), it raised some alarm bells. Howard Beck's New York Times profile of Crittenton suggested that Prather may have had issues with Crittenton's behavior in general. Then, of course, there was the gun incident with Arenas, followed by him losing out on many opportunities and getting cut by the Bobcats in training camp last year. That's sort of a path.
But I'm also uncomfortable relaying that path as gospel at this point. Even with all those markers, the jump to alleged murderer is huge. I'd wait until more comes out before trying to find a coherent sequence that explains Crittenton's behavior.
4. If there is one defining trait of Crittenton before the incident, it's that he was incredibly competitive on the court. As Arenas himself found out, Crittenton also wasn't exactly the kind of guy to target for one of his elaborate, misguided pranks. However, it's still a massive and unfair leap in logic to suggest those personality traits as they relate to basketball have anything to do with this incident.
5. Speaking of Arenas, here are his thoughts on the allegations.
6. I admit that my first thought when hearing this news last night was, "Damn, Gilbert messed with the wrong dude." I'm sure that's one of your first thoughts as well. It's natural. Knowing that, though, let's step back for a second. Something feels wrong about spending a lot of time dwelling on Gungate when a 23-year old mother of four is murdered and a former Wizards player is the alleged perpetrator.
7. If the allegations are true, I want the victim's family to receive justice and for Crittenton to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I don't want him to be made into an example, and I don't want him getting off light.
8. Finally, the news has been weird for me to process because Crittenton was one of the guys I talked to most when covering the team my first year. Because he was recovering from injury, he was always lingering around before players were made available, and he was an easy guy to pass the time talking to during those down moments. I remember him being upset with how the Wizards handled his foot injury, which prevented him from building on a promising end to the previous season, but he always did his best to put on a happy face.
I remember talking to Crittenton about his injury a month later. He was lingering in the locker room, and I called him over to get an update. He had this big smile on his face when he answered my questions, which seemed a bit odd to me. In the middle of the interview, Antawn Jamison came over to him, tapped him on the shoulder and gave him this weird look. "Why you talkin' like that," Jamison said at the time, wondering, like me, why Crittenton was so excited to talk about an injury.
Given what's transpired now, it's still really jarring that someone who seemed so easygoing and cheerful when I saw him be accused of a crime this serious.