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An Unthinkable Shooting Range

by Eric Karlan (editor), Philadelphia, January 05, 2010

Credit: Keith Allison
Arenas deserves a punch from LeBron after his latest antics

Washington basketball officials thought the Bullets were gone when they instituted a name change. They were right - except for the firearms.

It sounds like the beginning of a bad Family Guy breakaway...

"That sounds as stupid as that one time those basketball players pulled unloaded guns on each other..."

Then the show cuts away from the central storyline (or general lack thereof most of the time) and everyone watches as animated depictions of Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton in the Washington Wizards locker room pull unloaded firearms on each other over an expensive card gambling dispute.

It sounds so ridiculous and absurd that you may actually have the inkling to laugh - until you remember that this isn't crappy Sunday night cartoon comedy. This actually happened.

It should not matter to anyone that the guns did not even have bullets in them - and no one should be laughing at the idiotic irony of that fact, despite the understandable temptation. It should not matter that Arenas is a self-proclaimed prankster, and the stunt somehow started out - beyond all lengths of my imagination - as a joke. It should not matter that no one was physically injured, because what does matter is that this incident has inflicted harm extending far beyond an immediate bullet wound.

The NBA is often lauded for its global community outreach initiatives, most notably NBA Cares, whose mission is to address "important social issues such as education, youth and family development, and health and wellness." To accomplish this goal, star players actively raise money, visit schools to encourage literacy and education, and lend a helping hand to build new learning and athletic facilities in impoverished communities. Last year, Arenas himself donated $25,000 to Wizards Care.

While Washington's troubled star can be applauded for this effort, the fact that he has the financial capacity and platform to earn such positive praise troubles me - especially in light of his antics last week. Community outreach and volunteerism are highly valued in American society; we are often guilty of overlooking obvious shortcomings and wrongdoings if the person performs public service - especially if that person is a celebrity.

In other words, the NBA has successfully created a thin, powerful, and dangerous veneer of lies for players like Arenas to hide behind when the reality that they are not truly role models rears its ugly head. Complement community service with stellar athletic prowess on the court and multi-million-dollar endorsements off it, and irresponsible - let alone criminal - actions can even more easily be justified or ignored by those tens of thousands who emulate Arenas.

Young basketball fans in the Washington DC area have grown up idolizing Arenas; when you have stars and dollar signs in your eyes, you can ignore simple facts like a bad attitude, underachievement, and why pulling a gun on your own teammate in your own locker room is bad.

The harsh, sad reality is that, when many children hear this story, they will only understand that Arenas and Crittenton had guns in the locker room, they will hear the New Jersey Nets' Devin Harris' claims that 75% of NBA players own guns, and they will hear media pundits poke fun of the fact that the guns were not loaded. If these children lack parents who are active, aware, and responsible, many will either assume this is normal and "cool" behavior - no matter how long Areans' suspension is - or they will simply treat the matter too lightly.

If the NBA truly cares about reforming the world and leading a new generation of children into the future, it will not simply lay down a suspension for the two perpetrators - it will actively educate youth on the dangers of gun violence.

And while they are at it, maybe it will educate its own players.



About the Writer

Eric Karlan is an editor for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on An Unthinkable Shooting Range

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By JJFCPA on January 06, 2010 at 06:04 pm

What a sad story. There is a problem in the country with too many people, including star athletes needing to carry guns around. For what. When was the last time a star athlete was gunned down - by a gun or a 7 iron. I say that Arenas should be suspended for a long time. How about 1 eon.

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By Jack Bates on January 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

I grewing up in middle America in a suburb outside Cleveland, OH. I am a white male from a lowwer middle class family, that didn't watch much TV, let alone the NBA. My father lived a good deal of his life below the poverty line.

When I was in highschool my father pull this exact same prank on one of my friends after a camping trip. He pulled an unloaded, five round, 38 special out and put it to my friend's head. At the time we all laughed about it. As I have grown in to my own man I look back on it with disgust because I am not the person that I was then.

There is only so much any professional organization can do to educate their members. The NFL, NBA, and their ilk have great programs they put rookies through to try and get them on the right path. The fact is that they are just millionare poor kids that come from a different place than where they are thrust to.

Arenas made a bad joke, in his eyes, and I truely believe that is how he sees it. He has yet to grow and learn that this goes beyond poor taste. I am sure he is growing and learning now. I also believe that he will be sincere when he finally understands how poor his judgement was. This will make his lessons to other kids that much more credible. So I don't want to judge him on how poor his decision was now but on how he deals with it in the next five years in educating others.

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By tony1988 on March 18, 2010 at 10:36 pm

N0.0 how sad

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