January 06, 2010
Worm your way into your second gun-related hassle of your professional career? Passable, to a certain extent. Most people Gilbert's age (or, really, half his age) would understand that even bringing four unloaded weapons into the workplace is a no-no of the highest order, but Gilbert's a professional athlete.
Even though he grew up broke, even though he's less than a decade removed from remembering "what it was like," he's still a professional athlete.
And professional athletes, as has been proven time and again, year after year, just have no idea how life actually works. It's not a basketball thing, or an African-American thing, or even an American thing. Follow the Sunday papers for the latest on the various soccer ball-kicking types overseas, if you don't believe me. Or even the international rulers of open-wheel driving organizations.
It's an athletic thing. To be handed money for a skill that unique. Something that can be judged by a scoreboard — that fairest and most stagnant level of critique — and not the whims of a record reviewer or a cinema obsessive. The skill is ultra rare, and the money so obscene, but the goal is the same as it was 50 years ago: 25 points per game, a .300 average, 4 under on the back nine.
Goofball artisans, no matter how much they pander, can never guess how it will turn out. Clean up, get right, lose the tabloids, remember your lines, make a movie and submit it for consideration? The whole thing could flop, no matter how great the accomplishment. Doesn't change a thing in their lives, because the judging scale is so fluid. Art and commerce.
Drop 25 a game? You're right back where you were. Those goals are always there. They never move. And that doesn't even start to explain away the pathetic stylings of pro sports in-house street cred.
Gilbert, as we taught him to do, understood this. And now it's time to teach him something else.
That you don't bring four unloaded guns into your place of work, for whatever reason. A place that has more than 20,000 people rushing through it on a game night. Gilbert? That's my place of work, too. And even though the hot dog vendor is half a mile away from the locker I'm standing in front of while you prattle away, she's within the same building, also working. This isn't your house.
It's time to teach Gilbert — and all of the rest of these abject liars — that signing off on statements that rue your "serious lapse in judgment," mentioning how "wrong" you were while lauding yourself for "now realiz[ing] that there's no such thing as joking around when it comes to guns" should somehow preclude you from pulling this nonsense one day later:
It should teach these people to have a sense of shame. That smirking in the face of impending consequence isn't cool, it isn't hip, and it doesn't make you any tougher or any less immune to criticism. It just makes you that much more a pathetic creature, someone who doesn't get it despite 28 years spent roaming this Earth.
It should teach that free speech is to be encouraged, and that it should always be promised, but that it shouldn't be sloughed off with hypocrisy just because a man is allowed to speak his mind. No matter the level of inscrutability.
It should warn people that guns aren't cool, aren't needed and a borderline anachronism at this level. I don't want to hear the nonsense about "protection." A gun wouldn't have helped Sean Taylor, caught half-asleep and in the darkness. It wouldn't have helped Eddy Curry(notes) and Antoine Walker(notes) as they were caught by surprise and by a hoard of criminals all at once. And it certainly didn't help Gilbert Arenas, in any way.
I don't want to hear about history. I don't want to hear that Karl Malone can shoot pheasant without complication, what Mel Daniels and Roger Brown did in some tiny locker room over 35 years ago, or any continued junk about "where we came from."
You know where Gilbert Arenas comes from? One of the more affluent neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., area. He's been there for a while. That's his reality. If he tries to tell you anything else, it's because he doesn't think that much of you.
And, no, I don't feel sorry for Gilbert Arenas. I don't feel sorry for the lack of income, or for his inability to find solace in the game that has given him and us so much. If he doesn't know, at age 28, what it takes to be able to continue to find solace in that game under the terms of the three different contracts he's signed, then we should have no sympathy.
If the man wants to make the whole world go away and find shelter on a court, I'm sure there's a gym somewhere that could use someone worth listening to. If the Wizards eventually dissolve his contract because of the moral turpitude clause, there might be a European team or a minor league team in which he can easily find personal refuge.
Would the price be to Gil's liking? Probably not. And based on what little I know about Gilbert Arenas, I'm sure that might be enough to sway him to stay home and wait out this suspension. Pity.
Is someone teaching others a lesson at his expense? Is the hammer coming down harder than it has to? No doubt.
You want to make sure, next time, you're treated fairly in the face of a transgression that could go either way?
Don't smirk in the face of consequence. Don't show me that you think you've done nothing wrong, despite telling me the exact opposite the day before. Show me that you care. Show me that you're not being proudly ignorant, again.
This has nothing to do with your initial misdeed. This has everything to do with you talking out one side of your mouth to the people that write the checks and another to your boys in the huddle — and not caring who knows just how duplicitous you are.