Gilbert Arenas is not the latest idiot on the block. His recent choices just make it seem that way.
It’s bad enough the franchise player for the Washington Wizards brought a few guns into an NBA arena — and tweeted about it either before consulting his legal representation or simply ignoring the consultation he undoubtedly received. But when you consider the allegations presently being publicized regarding his brandishing a gun at teammate Javaris Crittenton, Arenas’ admission of “goofball” tendencies and his willingness to laugh it off, seemingly oblivious to the legal ramifications coming down the pike, this level of idiocy would put Forrest Gump to shame. If only it was a laughing matter. Let’s be clear. By no means am I trying to say this is only a BLACK problem. That Black athletes have a monopoly on stupid acts. Nevertheless, they’re the ones stigmatized and excoriated. And our young are the ones most drastically affected by their actions. Considering the fact that you’re already at a disadvantage as a minority, what else can occur but the worst possible results?
By his own tweeted admission, Arenas has already violated gun laws within the District of Columbia. Laws that pertained to him carrying and concealing a weapon. Because he lives in Virginia but works in D.C., he also may have violated laws regarding carrying weapons across state lines, which explains why the U.S. Attorney’s Office is now reportedly involved in the matter, communicating with D.C.’s Metro Police Department.
Notice I haven’t even touched on the possibility that Arenas’ gun(s) were not licensed in D.C.
Meanwhile, there’s also the issue of whether, indeed, Arenas brandished a gun in a threatening manner at Crittenton. Whether Crittenton, in response, brandished his own concealed weapon (which, if true, it says here, will end Crittenton’s NBA career) or instead tried to grab one of Arenas’ guns. And there’s been no mention of Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld reportedly telling the league about guns being in the locker room but failing to reveal a confrontation involving the guns, along with the potential consequences any truth to those allegations in the New York Post may entail. “There won’t be any,” a league official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, specifically about Grunfeld Sunday afternoon. “Whatever has been reported accurately was already revealed to us by Ernie. We have no issue with anything involving Mr. Grunfeld.”
Good. One potential mess no one needs to concern themselves with.
But the mess that Arenas has created is not going away. Nor are the questions destined to follow about professional athletes, specifically those from the African-American Community — and how the criminal element has virtually hijacked the culture of Black America.
As much as I’ve tried to disagree with my friend and noted contemporary, Jason Whitlock, who’s repeatedly and vociferously lamented the state of affairs within the Black Community — specifically as it pertains to the negative parts of Hip Hop and its influence on Black culture — it simply cannot be denied any longer.
Genocide is taking place in the Black Community, and this is a form of it.
For every foolish act like Plaxico Burress, Ron Artest or Arenas, there’s a Grant Hill, Shane Battier or LeBron James — guys who will be employing Black athletes one day, either in an executive or ownership capacity.
But their behavior is not what is influencing Black America’s youth, specifically its cultural ambience. It’s the culture of tattoos (jailhouse or otherwise) enjoying increased prevalence and notoriety. This hyper-masculinity syndrome. This alpha-male environment that stimulates the worst in an educated individual like Crittenton (Georgia Tech), preventing a sensible young man raised by both of his parents from walking away from a crazy incident that could cost him millions in potential earnings. Even worse, it’s jeopardized the career of Arenas and his six-year, $111 million contract, plus an additional $50 million deal with Adidas allegedly over a gambling debt that amounted to less than $500.
“It’s truly sickening,” one African-American front-office official told me Sunday afternoon. “There’s just no excuse for this. This is a $4 billion industry guys are trying to turn into a $2 billion industry. There’s just a flagrant lack of appreciation for the position they’re in … mainly because of someone wanting to look more like a man, not be punked, acting literally like prisoners locked in a prison yard with one another. It’s utterly ridiculous.
“I don’t know how anyone would feel about this, because some folks truly believe we won’t have these problems if the league reduced the maximum years of guaranteed deals down to just three years. I’ll go a step further …
“Lock the damn players out. Shut the league down for a year and see what happens when these guys are not cutting these checks. I bet you the few who don’t act right will straighten up then.”
Sadly, we can only suspect there’s truth to that argument.
The argument that can no longer be made, however, is that actions like the one Arenas committed are just that of the few. Not because it’s untrue, but because few people care. Mainstream media didn’t spend the weekend bantering about Arenas. They used Arenas to bloviate about “why do these athletes carry guns?”
It’s the same question they asked about Plaxico Burress, while he was walking into a jail cell.
It gave them an excuse to bring up Michael Vick, even though his crime involved dog fighting.
It provided an excuse to bring up Ron Artest, the league’s $5.8 million average salary (highest of any sports league), feeding the rationale for a debate about whether too much is given too soon to too many who are too undeserving.
This is a battle the league has fought for years. One that Commissioner David Stern has fought so brilliantly for nearly 27 years that he should be an icon in the Black Community. Except Stern won’t be, of course, because of the punishment he’ll predictably bring down upon Arenas once the Wizards’ troubled star receives due process — though it’s appropriate for Stern to step in.
Stern will be the villain, then. Not Arenas. Definitely not in the eyes of Black America.
The thing is, the time has come for the Black Community to join Stern in his fight against such utter nonsense.
Arenas is a nice man. He’s not a bad guy. We should pray for him and wish him well. But that’s after he is suspended for a year without pay and the legal system gets through dealing with him. Unless, of course, we want Rush Limbaugh’s comments about the NFL resembling “The Bloods and the Crips … without any weapons” to allude to another league dominated by young Black men!
FOX Sports Radio’s Stephen A. Smith is a Sports Columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He’s covered the NBA for the past 13 years as a beat writer for the Philadelphia 76ers before becoming an NBA Columnist in 2001. In 2003, he was elevated to General Sports Columnist.