By a gigantic margin …
Stern came down on Arenas in his usual heavy-handed manner. In his statement Stern played pop psychologist in judging Arenas “not to be fit to take the court in an NBA game.”
If true, the suspension is undo and should be revised to include that Arenas should undergo psychiatric treatment immediately and that his reinstatement into the league should, beyond any criminal punishment, entail that a psychologist or psychiatrist find Arenas mentally and emotionally stable enough to continue with his NBA career.
Since Stern did not include the aforementioned in his statement of suspension, Arenas’ lawyers should immediately sue Stern for defamation of character as his statement is, as of the moment, false, and can bring harm to Arenas because it can be used by NBA teams to use to keep Arenas from potentially ever again playing in the league.
And this is but Stern’s most recent faux pas in the handling of the incident involving Arenas, Crittenton, and the Washington Wizards.
Despite feigning deference to the police in his statement, Stern had every right to suspend Arenas immediately as the Wizards guard violated the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as it prohibits its employees from possessing firearms in an arena, when traveling, or when participating in an NBA function. In no way should David Stern, in his capacity as commissioner, have felt compelled to wait for a criminal investigation – at all.
That Stern delayed his suspension of Arenas brings into suspicion his motivations for the punishment. Or, at least it should.
According to new information in a Washington Post article by Mike Wise, after Arenas put the guns on a chair and told Crittenton, “I’ll make it easy for you,” indicating that Crittenton choose a gun, the Wizards guard took one of Arenas’ guns and threw it across the floor where it landed at a trainer’s feet. Crittenton then, allegedly, pulled out his own gun, loaded one chamber with a bullet and, inexplicably, began singing. Two teammates left the scene going to the trainer’s room, where after some moments, Arenas followed. When Arenas returned Crittenton was gone.
And if all of this is true, it is Crittenton, not Arenas, who should be demonized. It is Crittenton who should be hounded by the press and the commissioner. It is Crittenton who should be the pointed subject of any police investigation of the incident.
Stern actions should be as follows: immediately suspend Arenas until the outcome of the police investigation and any resultant court proceedings; immediately fine the Wizards the balance of Arenas’ six-year $111 million contract signed in 2008, put the money in escrow and give it to some highly-visible charity, and do not allow the Wizards to use the lost salary against their salary cap next season, and; if the new reports are true, ban Crittenton from ever playing gain in the league, if not suspend him for two or three games without pay for verbally inflaming the situation between he and Arenas with his gun talk because it was that statement that escalated the incident to the point where Arenas displayed his guns in the locker room.
Instead Stern waited, and stalled, and fell silent. Then, when the calls for Arenas’ head grew so much louder than the calls for punishment for the Pollin family – the Wizards owners – that those cries could be ignored, Stern acted to protect one of his employers (the late Abe Pollin owned the Wizards and presently the team is owned by the Pollin family until a new owner or ownership group can be found) and came down so hard on Arenas that the only debate left is whether or not Stern’s punishment is too harsh. Because the lull has cooled any heat that might have come the Wizards management’s way, the organization feels safe enough to release their own bold, holier-than-thou statement:
“Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert’s recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements [Tuesday] night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable.” Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert’s behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin’s leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so.”
What is unacceptable is that the Wizards organization has not, along with Arenas, been called to the carpet by Stern.
This slow to react move by Stern followed by the oh-so predictable suspension and harsh words for Gilbert Arenas should be called out in the mainstream press – loudly and unceasingly. And if editors, producers, writers, and newscasters cannot find it within themselves to do the job, the NBA Player’s Association must make protecting Arenas’ guaranteed contract and fining the Wizards a top priority. Then the NBAPA must take their cause to the press and force them to report the issues at hand, including the duplicity of the Wizards management in either knowing and allowing Arenas to keep the guns at the Verizon Center and/or covering up the fact that he had the guns after the December 21 incident.
Now, with Wise’s article, the incident is evolving to the point where Stern is losing control over the incident. He now must clear out all of the players who were witnesses. He also must turn his wrath to the organization. Perhaps Grunfeld will be the fall guy for the Pollins, as he was a former player, and is, in the end closer to the players than he is the Pollins. But Abe Pollin was the employer of everyone involved, so Stern is potentially facing a situation where, as mentioned previously, he must seek to punish one of his employers.
If this is not enough to move Stern, every accusation levied at the league, from shielding certain players from unfavorable press and covering up their misdeeds to game-fixing can be viably levied at Stern and the owners. Nothing will be out of bounds; no complaint, no “conspiracy theory” will be off limits. Between the usual conspiracies and the thought that the onus of responsibility moves right up the chain of command to the top of the Wizards organization, Stern’s very reign over the NBA might well be in jeopardy. Employees are not usually charged with meting out punishment to employers. Stern and all commissioners of professional sports leagues, are able to act in that capacity to some degree. But this is on a different level and Stern might find himself in a position where he must make heavy-handed statements about the Wizards upper management to the press and consider serious monetary – at least – punishment to his employers.
That usually spells the end of the road for someone, and it won’t be the owner. Stern, in the end will be charged with allowing this incident to spin out of control and the other owners will no longer be able to tolerate the bad press and worse image of the NBA. It is already difficult enough for the owners to navigate their way through the world of corporate sponsorship when the vast majority of the “product” is Black and is still subject to the ever-evolving control mechanism of racism. It is made worse when the press, such as ESPN, highlights the number of Black athletes in the league and makes a thinly-veiled claim that reverse racism is at work in the league.
This one is bad, real bad.
And as of this moment, what is left of Stern’s shine is nearly gone. Can Stern somehow recover?
this is the best article written, thus far, about the entire Washington Wizards situation, related to Gilbert Arenas, Javaris Crittenton, Ernie Grunfeld, the Pollin Family, the NBAPA, a U.S. Federal Grand Jury, D.C. law enforcement authorities, and the NBA’s Commissioner.
With this solvo from SOMM … which is actually the first account of this type that’s been read by these eyes … the proverbial clock may, indeed, have finally begun to tick … for none-other-than Mr. Stern, himself.