The FBI has found Javaris Crittenton. The former Lakers and Wizards guard told authorities he would be boarding a flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta on Monday in order to turn himself in after Atlanta-area police charged him with the Aug. 19 murder of Jullian Jones, and federal authorities decided they didn't feel like waiting before arresting him in Los Angeles. Though you might not recall Crittenton playing a single second for the Lakers or Wizards -- no shame in that -- you no doubt remember him as the other half of that pathetic locker-room showdown between Crittenton and former Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas.
At this point, even with presumed innocence desperately pleading with us to think twice before damning Crittenton, that entire affair from nearly two years ago feels a million years removed, and a whole host of wasted words away. With that in place, the Washington Post's Mike Wise went on record today wondering if that whole (not so, relatively speaking) sordid affair may have pushed Crittenton over the edge. From fake badass to alleged murderer.
Asked whether he had spoken to Javaris Crittenton since they were both suspended for the remainder of the 2009-2010 NBA season and Arenas had spent 30 days in a halfway house, Arenas replied, "No, but I heard he became more hard."
"You know, like some people turn over a new leaf when something bad like that changes their life. I heard Javaris went the other way — he became more 'hood, more hardened in that way. I don't know if that's the case, but that's what I heard."
Because of that presumed innocence, we don't know for sure if Arenas' guess is actually the case for Crittenton. But that freedom also protects us when we presume on record about someone like Javaris, even before a gavel hits. Much less his own extradition to Georgia to face his charges.
Ego and hubris are strange things. They're the messed-up elements that we yelled at Arenas for showcasing as he brandished his unloaded weapons in a locker room that should have been free of such elements. This blog, your local newspaper's wire feed and basic cable led with that story for days. But we all mostly paid attention to the star involved in the pathetic duel. Crittenton was only named because we needed a relatively unknown name to flesh the story out. Gilbert Arenas needed that other guy.
Javaris was that other guy.
Who knows what that did? By some accounts, Crittenton was far from a model citizen much less teammate upon entering the NBA in 2007, but you don't make the NBA as a guard without having some semblance of tact, poise or reason. This isn't to pile on with the "good-guy-gone-bad" narrative, but Crittenton apparently managed a 3.5 GPA during his senior year of high school. Take all the jock classes you want. That stuff doesn't come easy. Or "easily," Crittenton's teachers would prefer I type.
And though Crittenton was clearly the more aggressive -- and less smart-alecky -- hand in the showdown with Arenas, nobody paid attention to the other guy. For someone who may have been already reeling from time spent as "the other guy" in high school (feeding the ball to the older and more accomplished Dwight Howard), "the other guy" upon entering the pros as a member of the Lakers (fill in your own blanks), and "the other guy" in the Arenas skirmish, this could have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
This is all nonsense pop psychology, the kind you usually see from people wondering if a spurned girlfriend in high school led to the fate of a middle aged man holding a bank hostage 20 years later, but it's also worth prattling on about. According to police, Crittenton was attempting to avenge a robbery from last spring when he allegedly opened fire two weeks ago. Many people fall victim to theft. Not everyone pulls out a gun four months later. Unless, of course, they've made a decision to become "more hard," as Arenas put it.
And there it is, again. Whether Crittenton is an innocent man, or whether we just put together a post that will serve as 80 percent of his final story, we're seeing things through Arenas' eyes again. Until Howard can be asked to comment. Until Kobe is convinced to give his take on his barely considered teammate. Always "the other guy," that Crittenton.
This is still no way to turn into a lead character, though.