Monday, January 4, 2010

Above the Rim: Understatement of the Year

Gilbert Arenas admitted that storing guns in his locker was "bad judgment" on his part. Other examples of bad judgement of this magnitude include Bill Clinton's behavior around his interns and Gus Frerotte headbutting a wall in celebration. It's amazing that it took half a week of news coverage to make Agent Zero realize that his locker at the arena was not a gun locker. Furthermore, his bad judgment in this respect is minor compared to his decision to allegedly pull one of those guns on teammate Javaris Crittenton. This situation is an example of some of the worst judgment ever. What could Arenas possibly have been thinking to think it was ok to store guns in such a public venue and then pull a gun on his teammate? I can't even offer an explanation.

Compared to troubled Cavaliers guard Delonte West's arrest this offseason, also in Washington D.C. (should they switch the name back to Bullets?), Arenas probably shows worse judgment that West. First, Arenas was storing the guns in an extremely public place while West was allegedly transporting them. Arenas pulled a gun on a teammate while West did not threaten anyone. In fact, at least one report stated that West was carrying the guns because he was concerned for his safety after being threatened. Finally, West suffers from depression and bi-polar disorder, both of which probably contribured to his lapse in judgment, and he admitted to not taking his medication. When comparing the two situations, Arenas has no justifications for his actions and threats, while West not only did not threaten anyone, but also is more sympathetic due to his unique circumstances.

There are many examples of poor judgment by Ron Artest that the Arenas situation could be compared to:

  • Artest drinking Hennessey at halftime when with the Bulls- while extremely poor judgment on Artest's part, this in no way was a violation of the law and did not endanger anyone else, although it may have hurt his and the Bulls' performance.

  • Artest leaving the Pacers to promote his (awful) rap album- again, poor judgment by Artest that shows a "me-first" attitude instead of being a team player, but Artest's behavior does not harm anyone other than himself and his team, and only in terms of performance or image.

  • Artest's role in the Fight at Auburn Hills- when I first saw this, I was actually surprised at how much Artest was behaving by laying on the scorer's table and not being provoked into a fight with the 6'8" 250 lb. Ben Wallace ... then he ran into the stands and began throwing haymakers at a 5'8" 250 lb. fan wearing a Ben Wallace jersey. This is a closer parallel to Arenas. Not only was it an example of some of the worst decision making ever, but it also endangered everyone in the arena that night, fans and players alike. The only real differences between the two situations are that Artest involved 20,000 people while Arenas was only including members of the locker room. Also, Artest's situation did not include a deadly weapon (although it did include 40,000 fists) while Arenas used a gun.

The closest parallel to Arenas is probably when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the league at a night club. Both situations involved the reckless use of a gun in a public venue. Both endangered innocent bystanders. Fortunately, no one was injured by Arenas in this scenario.

To be honest, this "judgment" by Arenas will probably be one of the most infamous lapses of judment in sports history when it is all said and done, competing with Burress, 10 Cent Beer Night, Disco Demolition Night, and the Brawl at Auburn Hills. There are few occurrences in sports that can create such a degree of danger, and the scary thing about Arenas is that it included firearms.

One more variable that compounds the situation is the massive chip that Arenas insists on carrying on his shoulder. Arenas has always been quick to point out when people underestimate him, which some consider to be a key to his success. But this attitude can also be aggravating and potentially troublesome. First, Arenas insists on saying he doesn't get any respect despite being a past all-star and making near the league maximum. More troubling is that with such a large chip on his shoulder, who takes everything personally, would have a stash of guns in his locker. And then actually pull a gun on a teammate. Arenas can be a hothead at times, and when he does get fired up, it is not good that he has ready access to a cache of dangerous weapons. Arenas does not strike me as particularly responsible, and coupled with his short fuse, this could be very dangerous.

It will be interesting to see how the NBA and authorities handle this situation. Regardless, it should be remembered as one of the worst decisions ever by a professional athlete.

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