The Gilbert Arenas saga encapsulates so many different issues and contradictions present in American culture at the end of the decade. The original story, leaked by the New York Post, appears to have totally misconstrued what happened. Yet, the story ran anyway as timeliness took precedence over fact-checking. The Post never corrected their story and the image of two Black men threatening each with guns in a locker room is what stuck in people’s mind.
We’re in the digital age and everyone must give their opinion before we slip into the next news cycle. So athletes with guns became the issue d’jour and speculation began as to how long the suspensions would be before all the facts came out. When we learned that the guns weren’t loaded, it didn’t matter, as calls for Gilbert’s head continued. Javaris Crittenton? Too much of a scrub for anyone to care. The fact that the Second Amendment still exists and that gun ownership is the equal right of every citizen? Let’s just say the NRA hasn’t been jumping to Gilbert’s defense.
Of course, the contradictions work for Arenas too. Believe me if I laid out three firearms on my office desk, loaded or unloaded, I’d last another 3.5 seconds before finding myself in the unemployment line. The same is true for millions of us. The only reason Gilbert may keep his job past this year is that he’s wealthy and entitled and can potentially make wealthier, more powerful people even more money.
Today, David Stern suspended Gilbert indefinitely & without pay before Agent Zero had his day in court. To quote the Commish Arenas is “not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game.” As Gilbert’s 19 points and 14 dimes from last night prove, that’s a ridiculous assertion. Stern just wants this mess to die, for the PR of the league, and Arenas’ joking around and ridiculous Twitter rants show that he’s no victim, rather someone who in the center of a swirl of negative attention doesn’t know when to shut up. Obviously, he felt the need to defend himself and I admire that trait. He didn’t do anything malicious, he just happened to do something really stupid that caught the ire of the moralizing sharks that make up our media and political leaders.
That’s not fair to Gilbert and his punishment will certainly be more severe than past gun-related transgressions of Stephen Jackson (suspended seven games for discharging a weapon) and Sebastian Telfair (suspended less than five games for bringing a gun on a team plane) But the contradictions of our times have taken rationality off the table. And, Gilbert, you did do it to yourself.