Arenas gun stunt is no laughing matter

Alan Der Ohannessian

Gilbert Arenas loves playing jokes. Now tell me Gilbert, what’s so funny about bringing a gun into a sports facility?

Last month Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton pointed guns at each other over a gambling debt. Arenas laid the guns on a chair, then told Crittenton to choose one and make good on a threat that stemmed from a card game on a late-night flight from Phoenix back to Washington two days earlier.

It would have been funny if he had brought a water gun instead of a real gun. However, his prank got him in trouble for bringing a real gun into the Wizards locker room.

On Jan. 6, the NBA suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay.

I would say he deserves the harshest punishment possible for his reckless act. The following reasons should prove my case: tarnishing the NBA image, irresponsibility and his idea that it is a laughing matter.

Gilbert Arenas’ gun stunt put the league on the spot. Associated Press columnist Jim Litke writes, the NBA’s gun culture is no more prevalent than that of other leagues, yet every time an athlete gets caught with a weapon, the publicity feeds the public notion that officials are incapable of policing their players. Just to refresh peoples’ memory, former Indiana Pacers player Stephen Jackson fired his gun outside an Indianapolis strip club after getting struck by a car that sent him tumbling into the hood. That perception, in part, led to the NBA’s toughened antigun stance in the collective bargaining agreement, barring league personnel from bringing weapons to league property, sites or charitable events. In other words, he made people feed into the notion that the NBA can’t control its players.

Another problem I find with Arenas’ act is that he doesn’t learn from his mistake. He was previously suspended from one game in 2004-05 for violating the NBA’s weapons policy.  Arenas was suspended after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to maintain proper registration for a firearm in California while with the Warriors in 2003. The fact that he is a repeat offender could affect the severity of his punishment. The issue of gun possession is a controversial topic in D.C., where a zero-tolerance ban on firearms possession – even with a license – was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 as a violation of the Second Amendment. In other words he seems stubborn and loves getting himself into trouble.

Also, Gilbert Arenas takes everything lightly never considering the consequences of his actions. He has a reputation as a prankster and laying out the guns apparently was his way of trying to diffuse any tension between them.

“I’m a goof ball and that’s what I am, so even doing something like this, I’m going to make fun of it and that’s how I am,” Arenas said in an interview. The problem with gunplay, though, is that it’s never funny and that a casual attitude toward violence only encourages more of the same.  Instead, the gesture enraged Crittenton.  Arenas said Saturday, “….. Anything I do is funny—well, it’s funny to me.” Well, there’s a difference between being funny and drawing a gun on teammates isn’t one of them.

Imposing a fine will have little impact on Arenas, who has a multimillion-dollar salary. Suspending him for 10 or 20 games also won’t send a signal. Arenas should be suspended for the remainder of this season and next season.