The big news in the NBA for the past few weeks has been the off-court issues with Gilbert Arenas. It seems like ages ago when the big story in the NBA was the off-court issues with Delonte West. The stories are similar: two guards with rough early lives, both careers hampered by medical conditions (one physical, one psychological). Sure there are similarities, but these two incidents are more different than they are the same.
However, after Gilbert’s punishment yesterday, an indefinite suspension, many people believe that the punishment was too harsh, while Delonte seemingly got off scott-free. Indeed, one of the reasons Stern cited for the suspension was Agent Zero being “unfit” to play on the court at this time. If you get technical, Delonte’s medical condition often makes him unfit to play on the court. And as for the weapons, Gil’s weren’t loaded while Delonte’s were. Hypothetically, wouldn’t the psychological condition, coupled with the loaded weapons make Delonte more of a candidate for suspension?
Today on The Basketball Jones, JE Skeets pretty much nailed why these situations are different. 1) Gilbert brought his weapons intothe Verizon Center, and guns are banned from NBA facilities. Delonte’s incident was off the court and occurred during the off-season. 2) Delonte and the Cavs have kept the situation under wraps and made sure there were no media field days and outbursts. The Wizards did pretty much nothing to keep Arenas from talking to the media, getting on Twitter, or doing whatever else he did other than keep his mouth shut.
As one of my good friends says, “Don’t poke the bear.” In this case the bear, David Stern, was already angry and was poked in the eye by Arenas. If Gil and the Wizards worked together better to keep this situation from escalating, there’s a good chance the punishment would have come after the legal proceedings were completed. Unfortunately, Gil forced Stern’s hand with the infamous finger/gun photo, and here we are today. Stern also seemed to be setting an example with Gil, showing the rest of the league that not taking responsibility for your actions in unbecoming of an NBA player, and it will be punished harshly.
Now this isn’t to say Delonte shouldn’t be punished for his actions. His illness isn’t an excuse for what he did, as many accuse Cavs fans of believing. It is, however, probably the main reason he sought to arm himself as heavily as he did this summer. But since he and the Cavs have been able to show some control in the situation, the league seems to be biding its time until the legal proceedings for West are finished in February. Delonte will likely be suspended, but it is unknown for how long. Both he and the Cavs know that Delonte’s “good behavior” since the incident will help bring him back to the team as quickly as possible after whatever punishment he receives.
Now the lost story in this whole situation, something that’s making itself known today, is what happened with Javaris Crittendon. He was an integral part of the story when all the information came out over a week ago, but it’s been all Arenas since. Well it appears as though whatever joke Gilbert was playing on Javaris wasn’t received well. Crittendon allegedly brought his own gun to the Wizards’ facility and loaded it. This to me seems like the worst of all these scenarios. Loaded gun. On NBA property. Especially in DC, home to some of the strictest gun laws in the country. If the information about him is true and the punishment is carried out proportionately, don’t expect to see Crittendon play in the NBA ever again.