The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Banhammer

Gilbert Arenas is “not currently fit to take the court”

That phrasing is the heart of the situation, really- Arenas’s public baiting of David Stern (finger guns on the court, twitter insanity, etc.) is the proximate cause of this suspension which Stern all but admits to in so many words in his statement, and as such it’s hard to argue with it- at some point it becomes a fuck-with-the-bull-get-the-horns situation where Stern can’t afford to let a player actively make the league look impotent. I will say this though- while I do think Arenas’s conduct through this whole situation says volumes about his character and value as a potential member of a winning basketball team, I can’t say I think it’ll be justice done if he gets hit with the rumored full-season-plus suspension over this. What he did, so far as the latest and best-validated reports have it, was exceedingly stupid; it was not obviously or necessarily malicious. He may have criminal penalties to face and there’s a good chance he may lose his ridiculous contract over this and deservedly so in both cases, but ultimately this appears to be an error of judgment more than an error of intent. In that sense, despite the presence of guns, it’s in a different class from Sprewell choking Carlesimo or the Malice at the Palace which were deliberate violent attacks by players on either team personnel or fans and triggered deservedly harsh responses.

To take away a man’s chance to earn a living by his primary skill is a major sanction, not to be imposed lightly or used indiscriminately, partly for reasons of justice and partly to avoid the trap the NHL has fallen into of escalating suspensions so quickly that they feel they “can’t” go higher, resulting in weirdly unpredictable disciplinary procedures. I would say the best thing to do is to suspend him for the balance of the year with his suspension to be reviewed based on behavior and possible prosecution in the offseason. If he can stop acting like a knucklehead for a few months and deal like an adult with the legal trouble he’s gotten himself into, let him play and see what the market is for him; he may find that it’s not what he had grown accustomed to, and that quite a few teams can get along without what he brings to the table. That said, I do not put it past Stern to judge the eventual length of this suspension on the basis of what he thinks it will take to give the Wizz cover to void Gilbert’s contract in the face of the inevitable legal challenge to doing so. It can’t be overstated- the current value of that deal is so huge relative to what Arenas is likely worth in the open market that losing it will easily be the biggest sanction the player can face, and will make the biggest statement about the danger to players of doing stupid things with guns.

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January 6, 2010 - Posted by | Other NBA

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