Mike Wise: Gilbert Arenas suspension and entitlement in the NBA
Monday, January 11, 2010; 12:30 PM
Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise was online Monday, Jan. 11 to discuss his recent work on the Gilbert Arenas suspension, Arenas's past and the star's future in the NBA.
You can read the transcript below.
washingtonpost.com: Hi everyone! Mike just sent this along to publish out, and he'll be getting to the rest of your questions as the chat moves along.
Thank you for joining us today. You can ask the question live as well on my radio show at 106.7 The Fan. The call-in number is 1-800-636-1067. Bear with me as I try to multi-task. I will get to as many as possible.
Alexandria, Va.: I used to love Gilbert Arenas and now can't stand the sight of him. Fortunately I'm 42, so my values are pretty much formed. I'm worried how this will impact on impressionable teens who want to "be lke Gil." Clearly he thinks the whole thing is a joke. I doubt that he would feel this way if Crittendon had shot him.
Mike Wise: I know this is a perfect time to alienate Gilbert ARenas and put him in the category of Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, Latrell Sprewell and Robert Alomar, who remember was public enemy No. 1 in sports after spitting in an umpire's face.
I won't be an apologist for Gilbert for the next hour, I will say, flat-out, that he is not the Worst Person In America because of this.
Naive and completely out of touch with how his behavior afterward helped ruin his image even further? Yes.
Wrong-headed and unlawful for bringing unloaded guns across state lines and into an American workplace? Yes.
Malicious. Hateful. Mean-spirited. Nuh-uh. That's not who Gilbert is.
Washington, D.C.: Don't you think the Wizards organization's distancing itself from Gil is over the top? His actions were certainly stupid, but does anyone remember what watching the Wizards was like pre-Agent Zero? Considering what he's done for the team, isn't removing all references to him at the Verizon Center a little ridiculous at this point?
Mike Wise: Sorry for the late start. I don't think they're eliminating all references. I agree that it's easy to forget where you came from, but I agree with what Gilbert Arenas Sr. said in my article Sunday, that the franchise is more important than Gilbert. When Mr Pollin changed the name of the Bullets, I can understand why the Wizards would pull down the poster that says Character, commitment, community. But I think it's foolish to take down everything about a player who got you where you are. Especially since you don't know that he'll never play for you again-you could run the risk of alienating him.
Arlington, Va: Hey Mike,
What are the odds the wiz will be able to void gilberts contract? 50/50? Is the mindset now dump all our big contracts to go after the big fish this summer? Thanks
Mike Wise: Less than 50%. David Stern will not void what's left of Gilbert's contract. But Gilbert has already cost himself $150,000 per game.
Manassas Park, Va.: Mike,
How could Vescey from NY break this story and not a local beat writer? Do you think this could have been leaked by someone with New Yoek connections (i.e., Grunfeld)? This would get the ball rolling to terminate that mammoth contract.
Mike Wise: The local media should have broken that story and I'm as guilty as anyone in that. We had heard the rumors, but we could not confirm anything for ourselves. It would have been irresponsible for us to report anything until we have everything confirmed. I don't care as much about being first as I am about being right. All we have left in this business is our integrity.
Washington, D.C.: Why haven't we heard anything regarding the other player involved in the incident being charged or suspended?
Mike Wise: What I've heard from league sources is that Javaris Crittendon hasn't played in a game all season due to injury. What's the point in suspending him. Crittendon's lawyers have advised him to not talk about it and I doubt Gilbert would have been suspended immediately had he not publicly mocked the issue.
Bethesda, Md.: Why was the reaction to the Delonte West gun infraction so much more muted than the Arenas reaction? Locker room aspect? D.C. versus Maryland law? West's bipolar issues?
Mike Wise: Delonte West's weapons were in a guitar case on the open road, there's a presumption of innocence until proven guilty and I'm sure that if he's found guilty, he'll face some type of punishment after his trial.
Bowie, Md.: So when does Stern remove the "indefinite" tag and announce the real punishment? Does he have a timetable and will Arenas get any credit for time already served?
Mike Wise: I don't think he'll get credit for time already served. Gilbert wasn't suspended for the weapons, he was suspended because he didn't respect the gravity of the situation.
Gilbert has already served more time suspended for his gun possession than any other athlete suspended for the same charge. I think that unless he's convicted of a felony, he'll miss the remainder of the season and maybe a some of next season.
Bethesda, Md.: What are the chances of this blowing over with a 20-game suspension? I think the media frenzy is dying down, (Gilbert is shutting up), and the more details come out the more it seems Crittendon is the thug and Gil (as always) is a nice guy with terrible judgment.
Mike Wise: Gilbert created this situation for himself. You can't minimize that and I think Gilbert has to understand that. He won't be back in 20 games.
Washington, D.C.: What is the latest on Abe Pollin's kids getting involved in the family business, and how does this affect Ted Leonsis' process of owning the entire company?
Mike Wise: Ted has the right of first refusal. If Ted wants the team, he'll get it. So far we've heard nothing to the contrary. I wouldn't be surprised if Ted Leonsis by July.
That said, I think if you're Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, you have to either unload Gilbert's contract or make roster moves that reshape this team if you want to keep your job.
New York, NY: Wise, Was Gilbert's joke the dumbest act ever committed by a DC athlete? I was going through my mental annals and came up with some good ones: Riggo passing out under the table and sexually harassing Sandra Day O'Connor, Cooley inadvertently taking a internet picture of his junk and posting it online, Chris Webber getting busted smoking a joint on the way to practice (!), Minute Bol's multiple drunk driving offenses. None of these can hold a candle to Gilbert's stupidity on this one. I challenge the readers to name a dumber act by a DC athlete.
Mike Wise: That's a tough one for me because I haven't been here that long...probably Redskins' WR Michael Westbrook's attack on RB Stephen Davis on the sidelines in training camp. Maybe even Rod Strickland pummeling Tracy Murray over a slur. But this is definitely up there.
Although now Gus Frerotte's headbutt into the wall is really up there as well.
From Bill Rohland:
Probably when Dino Ciccerelli and other Caps were caught in a limo with underage girls.
Germantown, Md.: The media has a late model, highly tuned fine running Corvette sitting in their driveway but yet the media insists on talking at length about their Pinto up on blocks that needs a new clutch and engine. Pardon my long allegory but with the most exciting hockey player in world and the top notch Capitals in town, far too much attention is spent on the dysfunctional Gil Arenas. Is it because only bad behavior sells?
Mike Wise: No, we were the same media who lauded this guy for all the games he won, all the jersey's he threw into the crowd, and all the charity work he's done.
A few years ago at the Las Vegas All Star game, he gave away boxes of jersey's and people were going nuts for him. We talked just as much about the good he's done. There are lots of people who give money to charity but are not charitable people, Gilbert Arenas has a charitable heart.
Everyone who's covered the team from Ivan Carter, Michael Lee, Dan Steinberg and I have chronicled Gilbert's off court generosity.
And with all due respect, it's hockey.
Houston, Texas: Out of curiousity, do you think if Gilbert had an agent (I know I know but hear me out) that perhaps he would not have gone to the degree he had? Certainly not the pre-game joking in Philly. It goes against his nature I know, but in general I wonder how undervalued (or perhaps totally out of left field on my part) agents are for being able to "handle" players or at least provide some level of sanity and perspective to situations like these.
Mike Wise: If I was Gilbert's agent, I would refuse to represent him if he didn't listen to exactly what I said. That includes being quiet when I tell him to, shutting down Twitter when I tell him to and not, well, Being Gilbert, until the legal process and the NBA's investigation has concluded.
Otherwise, I don't care how much he paid me, I could not in good conscience watch him destroy his reputation further under my watch.
Leesburg, Florida: There seems to be a couple of points people keep trying to make: 1. Unloaded vs loaded guns. Is there a difference when applying the Law?
2. That the whole gun thing he is being "singled out for" is a Technicality. Is his admission to bringing the guns into DC only admitting to a Technicality or is he admitting to breaking the law?
Mike Wise: You're right. Just say you broke the law and move on. It's immaterial to keep saying it's a joke gone bad if you illegally brought guns across state lines.
Washington, D.C.: Wait, Gilbert pooped in someone's shoe? Really? He pooped in a dude's shoe?
A) That messed up.
B) That's talent. Evidently he has accuracy off the court, too.
Mike Wise: When you talk about the history of practical jokes it's up there--in a bad way. As a reporter, how uncomfortable is it to walk up to a guy and ask him if someone really pooped in his shoe.
It's not good hygiene for sure.
Washington, DC: I do feel that what Arenas did was incredibly stupid and reckless. On one hand, I am happy that the league is coming down hard on him because I want the D.C. youth to see how stupid having guns is but...I would still like Arenas to rebound from this in the end.
Do you think he can rebound in the minds of new Wizards ownership and Wizards fans?
Mike Wise: I'd love for Gilbert to do a mea culpa and ask fans for another chance.
Washington Post hockey editor: "And with all due respect, it's hockey????"
Does Ovie need to pull a gun out of his locker to get you to come to a hockey game? When you gonna give me a Caps column?
Mike Wise: January 19th you will have a Caps column. I love your passion, I just wish you'd read my columns on George Michael and Gilbert and Tiger Woods.
Lindsay got me started on twitter and for that I will always be great full.
Washington, D.C.: Might David Stern, the NBA, and Gilbert Arenas have all avoided a lot of trouble had Stern called Gil when the twitter posts first started rolling (about three days before Philly?) and said "Hey idiot - if you don't shut the heck up, I'm going to suspend you"? I don't get why this had to be so all-or-nothing. Secondly, and perhaps unfairly, would Abe Pollin have been the man to make that call were he available?
Mike Wise: Abe Pollin would never circumvent David Stern's authority. But Gilbert didn't have the relationship with Mr. Pollin that Antawn Jamison had. I'm sure Mr Pollin would have called Gilbert and told him to knock off the twitter and joking stuff, and I'm sure Gilbert would have obliged. But at the end of the day, Gilbert is going to do what Gilbert's going to do. If he's not going to listen to the other people that have tried to help him, why should we expect him to listen to anyone else.
New York: Interesting how your 5 names in your first reply were all of color. No Brett Myers to be found, for instance. Is this reflective of racism among fans or by you?
Mike Wise: Great question. I'm so tired of using the word "thug" and equating that to African-American athlete in America. It's almost a form of covert racism we don't pay attention to enough.
Gilbert deserves to be mentioned as a thoughtless knucklehead who didn't understand the gravity of the situation. He doesn't deserve to be labeled, "Thug," based on the facts thus far.
It's wrong and people who say that need to take their own inventory about why they feel the need to saddle that label on every black athlete that gets into trouble.
I mean, if merely listening to gangsta rap and owning a firearm is now the prerequisite for "Thug," my co-host Bill Rohland gets the label too, no?
Falls Church, Va.: Gil is a die hard basketball fanatic. After being out of the game for 2 years, he finally got his sea legs back, and now has to watch from home again. What are the chances he packs his bags and goes to Europe for the next couple of years...at least till things die down a bit?
Mike Wise: Hmmmm. I would have said none a week ago. But now, with Gilbert feeling so many people have soured him in and outside the league, I wouldn't put it past him.
Bottom line, he's 28 years old. He might think of premature retirement or going to Europe, but I think after weighing the options after thinking he will eventually be in the NBA at the latest by 2011.
Arlington, Va.: Arenas sounds like a guy who needs a lot of counseling. Not just the shoe-pooping, but there is the suit mutilating, the auto theft, and all manner of humiliation he has apparently doled out to his teammates over the years. That sounds like the behavior of an immature bully to me. These aren't "practical jokes", they are malicious stunts used to belittle people. If I was stuck on a team with a first class jerk like that I would be looking for a new team.
Mike Wise: At some point, if you do those things, you're not creating the persona of a fun-loving prankster. You're creating the persona of a guy reaching out for help, who thinks so little of himself that he would actually gamble with his life and career by laying out unloaded guns for a teammate already known to be angry with you. Hey, I'm not mental-health professional -- and I certainly don't play one on radio -- but I do know a lot of good mental-health professionals. And every one of them believes Gilbert is a perfect candidate for some good psychotherapy. Let's be honest: most of us are, whether we want to admit it or not.
I hope you have time for this: Arenas' pranks have these elements in common: they are mean-spirited, destructive and humiliating to its victims. In addition, he primarily, if not exclusively, picks on less powerful people and teammates. Often when he is mad at them for some reason. This is a bully. Because he laughs and says he is just kidding, Arenas probably would be surprised by the description and deny being a bully. But that's what he is. His chip-on-the-shoulder Agent Zero persona is also consistent with the bully personality. The Wizards management and his more powerful teammates (e.g., Jamison) should have put a stop to this long ago. But I primarily think it should have been the coach and management. Would you agree that he is a bully and that management should have put a stop to it?
Mike Wise: Bully? Nah. Petulant. Prideful. Flat-out dumb for now essentially taking on management and the NBA with his behavioir, post incident? Definitely.
Nashville, Tennessee: Mike,When the Wizards tore Gilbert's picture down from outside the building, wasn't that basically a statement saying that he's done on this team? You can't tear down someone's picture then welcome him back w/ open arms...
Mike Wise: I think it was a statement saying, "We're done with you now." I think if you have a sign that reads, "Character. Commitment. Connection." and you have have Gilbert's mug promoting that slogan, you need to take it down if you want your fans to take you seriously.
Now, if all the pictures and likenesses of Gilbert become coming down inside the arena, well, yes, it's over in their mind.
I still believe that even though they may want to get rid of Gilbert, they can't fall back on the NBA doing their dirty work for them. That contract makes him almost untradeable. Unless it's voided, they may have to make peace with each other.
Athens, Greece: Hey Mike,
Have you talked to Gilbert since the wizards took down everything associated with him? Do you think he would still like to play for the wiz? If so do you think it would help him if he took out a FULL add in th Washington Post apologizing to the fans, the NBA and the Wizards...stating that he would love the chance to play for the WIZ again. A sincere apology "from the heart apology".
Mike Wise: Yes I have talked with Gilbert. And, no, I didn't think to ask him to take out a whole page ad. But now that you think about it, we could use some cash flow at the Post. Seriously, after talking with him, he asked me not to write about his state of mind right now but the things he's done -- good and bad over the years. He asked that I not quote him before we began speaking and we talked on mostly background. He's not in good spirits obviously, though he was taking the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. Did I spell Chuck E. Cheese right?
Bethesda, Md.: Tracee Hamilton has done a wonderful job of poking holes in Arenas's various efforts to explain his actions. C'mon, the man is 28 years old and the father of three children! And he still doesn't seem to get it.
By the way, any "prank" involving defecation is not funny.
washingtonpost.com: Tracee Hamilton: With no one to stop him, Arenas made one bad move after another (Washington Post, Jan. 8)
Mike Wise: She did indeed do a great job poking holes in his defense. So did John Feinstein, basically saying, "Wait, you took the guns out of the house before the third child? What about the first two?"
Washington, DC: So let me get this straight, Gilbert is going to be punished indefinitely for his tweets and pointing his fingers as fake guns. At a cost to him of about $150,000 per game.
Then, he's going to be punished separately for the actual infraction?
It's all about Stern's incredible ego then isn't it?
Mike Wise: No, it's about public perception of an athlete that seems to mock the seriousness of the incident. That's why he got suspended.
But I get what you're saying about fairness. I mean, Ray Lewis was originally charged in a double-murder case and eventually plead guilty to obstruction of justice and fined $250,000. And somehow he is seen as a redemptive figure 10 years later.
I think Ray Lewis has done wonders for Baltimore and his community since and I give everyone the right to change. But your past counts.
Silver Spring, MD: Aloha, Mr. Wise
I just want to know with the Wizards taking any trace of Gil playing with the team down outside of the Verizon Center does it mean it's over for Agent Zero?
Your buddy E...
Mike Wise: Eric, good to hear from you. I answered that earlier but essentially saying, "It's over for Gilbert now." Depending on what Stern and authorities rule, he still, believe it or not, could end up in that familiar jersey at Verizon Center -- I predict by November of next year.
Washington, DC: Mike, you know Gilbert better than any other writers because of the wonderful series you did on his early life. His actions and words seem to be a "call for help" or a complete disregard for what is appropriate. Do you think he realized how others would perceive his words and actions and he simply did not care, or that he was ignorant of the maelstrom that would ensue?
Mike Wise: Thanks for saying that. I think any elite athlete, even the most socially conscious and those connected to working-class people, live in a bubble that's larger than anything we could imagine. They don't understand how their actions are so magnified; some of them just don't.
And as much Gilbert Arenas wanted to be a brat in this case -- probably because he knew, deep down, that his teammate was the one taking less heat after reportedly actually loading a gun -- he also had no idea that people would react this strongly to his flippant behavior after the incident.
Trust me, he understands now. Or at least I hope he does.
Washington, D.C.: Does anybody care the Crittendon loaded a gun and pointed it at somebody in an NBA locker room?
Mike Wise: Let's be clear: Even in our reporting, we never talked to anyone who said Crittenton "Pointed" the gun at anyone.
New York City: Hi Mike, Thanks for taking the chats and thanks for your reporting. Two questions: How hard is it for a journalist who has written very in-depth feature stories about a source, to be objective on a case such as this? And two: How long do you think he'll be out. My gut feeling, pending any legal findings which could change my answer, is he'll be suspended for all of next year. This will be Stern's way of making a statement on the severity of this situation, "joke or not" And I for one don't think this was ever a joke. Your thoughts? Peace.
Mike Wise: Great question. Swapping a columnist hat for a reporter hat is still not the easiest thing to do. And, to be honest, I don't think in different media times they would let me do it.
But so many rules have been altered these days. I think it's fair to ask how a guy who has written extensively on Gilbert, and has a clear affinity for him as a person, should be allowed to write reported stories about him.
All I can say is, I've gone to great lengths to separate my feelings for Gilbert as a person when I go to work. I mean, I've run into this a few times in my career. With Shaquille O'Neal, who I once co-authored a book with, to Donald Brashear and Jeff Van Gundy and so on and so on. Bottom line, if you are going to be a journalist of an integrity, you have to realize there are times you want to be someone's friend and times you have to do your job and you simply can't do both.
Houston, Texas: Is the T-Mac to the Wizards rumour dead with Arenas' suspension?
You might think that McGrady could help the Wizards if Arenas is gone for the year.
Mike Wise: It was never alive.
Miami, Fla.: Why wont Mike Wise get a life and leave Gilbert alone? He made a mistake just like anyone else on this planet. Can Mike use his degree for something useful?
Mike Wise: Have you read anything I've written about Gilbert Arenas except for the past few weeks? Did you read the open birthday card I wrote about him? I have, and will continue to have, great empathy for Gilbert.
Anyone that roots for someone to throw their career away has larger problems than Gilbert, believe it or not.
As I said earlier, if you're going to keep your integrity in this business, sometimes you want to be someone's friend and sometimes you have to do your job -- and you simply can't do both.
I've been more than fair to Gilbert in my reporting and opinion. In fact, you could find people who say I went too far the other way.
Oh, who said I had a degree?
Fairfax, Va.: Thanks for taking questions.
Don't you think he should be kicked out of the league permanently? He broke the law on several fronts and pulled a weapon on a teammate.
Had I done this in my workplace, I would have immediately been fired and arrested. This is a terrible example to set with children who are exposed to this story.
Mike Wise: Agreed this is a terrible example. Disagree he should lose his livelihood permanently. Fire him from the organization, if you need to. Don't prevent him from ever earning money again. It's too harsh.
I'm shocked no one is asking about Javaris Crittenton. I know he's not a big name, but bottom line he may never have a chance to play another minute in the NBA if eyewitness accounts hurt his credibility with the grand jury.
Rudy, Md.: "Mike Wise: She did indeed do a great job poking holes in his defense. So did John Feinstein, basically saying, 'Wait, you took the guns out of the house before the third child? What about the first two?'"
Mike, you're proving my point. This is about those who are anti-gun rights, anti-2nd Amendment, who don't understand why anyone would want a gun in their house, using Arenas to further their agenda. You are literally proving my point with that last comment.
Mike Wise: Look, I'm an anti-gun person. I stopped shooting animals when I was 16, when a squirrel I took out with a .22 caliber rifle (for eating strawberries in my grandma's garden) looked at me after I shot him, and said, "Wee, wee." Like, "Why did you do that, I was hungry?"
But anybody else who wants to bear arms, fine. I respect your constitutional right, even if I don't agree with it.
I hate that people use this incident to be anti-gun or pro-gun. It's like saying, "The President was taking it easy while terrorism acts were being committed," instead of just focusing on preventing the next attempt.
God forbid if we focus on the moment and don't use every incident to politicize our own agendas even more.
Washington, D.C.: Quick math test. $111 million divided by six years divided by 82 games per year) less the reported 147,000 per games leaves Gil making $78,609 per game during his suspension.
Mike Wise: I'm lousy at math. I'll take your word for it. And how about that Warren Beatty math, by the way? I mean, the guy embarrasses Wilt Chamberlain. Apparently Warren Beatty bedded 2.06 women per day. Two point .06! That's college for most of us. (Well, okay, that's college for me).
Washington, D.C.: OK who is Brett Myers? I am guessing he is somebody white who did something wrong.
And nobody has referred to Gil as a thug, just a moron and a knucklehead and an idiot...
washingtonpost.com: Brett Myers is a former Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher who was arrested for assaulting his wife in public in Boston during the 2006 season when the Phillies were visiting the Red Sox during interleague play.
Mike Wise: People have referred to Gil as a thug, time and again.
Athens, Greece: Does Gil still want to play for the Wiz and do his teamates want him back?
Mike Wise: I don't know if Gilbert wants to play for the Wizards again. But I do know many of his teammates like playing with him and they would welcome him back. I think that's more of an organizational question: can the Pollin family and Ernie Grunfeld make peace with a guy who has embarrassed them and hurt them on and off the court with this incident?
Washington, D.C.: I was appalled to read an article in The Root about the Arenas incident in which the thesis was, "what's the big deal?" With idiotic insights such as, "an unloaded gun is about as dangerous as a washing machine," the author not only made light of the matter but dismissed the coverage of it as sensationalistic. Fortunately, I and most others who submitted comments strongly disagreed. He should be in jail. He should be banned from playing professional basketball, if not by the NBA then by his employer. This was a grown man acting with fore thought not an impulsive adolescent!
washingtonpost.com: Why the World’s Up In Arms Over Gilbert Arenas (The Root, Jan. 7)
Mike Wise: Isn't giving everybody a voice in America great? : ).
Seriously, you know why I absolutely hate reading comments on Washington Post stories? (and I read many of them on many stories to try and get a pulse of what people are thinking.) Because unless you're willing to put your name to something, you're nothing but a person with keyboard courage, hiding behind some alias. Your opinion should not count unless you put your name on the bottom of it. That's strictly my opinion. My bosses sometimes track a columnist's popularity by responses to that person's column. I think this is sometimes unrepresentative of stories and columns that actually have penetrating impact, especially when the same person goes back and forth with another yahoo 10 times based on something that has nothing to do with the column. I mean, it doesn't take a lot to type, "Wise is a jerk." Not that I necessarily want you to do that.
Alexandria, Va.: Mike,
Thanks for taking my question. I know people have poked holes in Giblert's explanation about why he had the guns in the first place, but doesnt it seem a little bit "fishy" that Crittenton just happened to have his gun with him in the locker room as well?
Either A) Crittenton knew he was gonna get in altercation with Gil or,
B) He always brings his gun to Verizon Center with him.
Mike Wise: I think many more people than anyone realizes bring guns to their respective arenas in sports. Some athletes treat them like jewelery. Here's hoping that practice begins to change a little.
Arlington, Va.: Wise--thanks for this chat and all your thoughtful columns.
I do believe that Gil made very dumb moves here, but do you think that everyone is piling on? Frankly, I'm tired of all the WP columnists taking turns writing about it. None of these people follow the Wizards, and after a while, all these columns just seem like lazy, low-hanging fruit for PVs and selling papers.
(PS--this excludes you, Steinberg and Lee)
Mike Wise: Thanks for the kind words.
Look, I know you don't want to hear this but I think it actually helps balance the Gilbert coverage if other people are writing about him. Wilbon and Sally Jenkins like Gilbert too, but they can see the forest through the trees on this issue a little better than I can because they have not spent the same kind of time around Gilbert than the other people you mention.
Sally wrote a tough, smart piece the other day -- as did Tracee Hamilton before her -- and all I could say was, "Man, was I tough enough on Gil?"
Alexandria, Va.: "prevent him from ever earning money again"? No, you would just be preventing him from earning hundreds of millions of dollars again. Plenty of criminals (assuming that he is convicted of a crime) make money, just not as much as Gilbert used to.
Mike Wise: The difference is, elite athletes have a finite number of years to capitalize on their trade. I don't. I can write or talk for another 30 years in my profession. Taking Gilbert's livelihood away from him for next few years is not the same as taking your livelihood away. I know, with actions comes consequence. But let's be clear: his are greater.
Bethesda, Md.: The irony of Ted Leonsis coming on board.
He is coming into a similar situation here that he had with the Caps in 2002. A bloated veteran roster with players that were underperforming and one in Jagr who was emotionally immature and took the team down with his off the ice issues with gambling, etc.
Agreed that a housecleaning here is in order?
Mike Wise: If they don't fight their way back to the playoffs, yes, agreed. Time to back up the truck.
Massillon, Ohio: Your "I am Tiger Woods" column was the most honest, perceptive, thought-provoking article I have seen on the subject. It took courage to publish it. I commend you.
Mike Wise: It's nothing to do with this particular chat, but I promised to get through every question I could. So thank you 10 times over. I really appreciate the support on an issue that I have received a lot of anonymous support over the years. For everyone hurt or bothered by the revelation in the column, all I can say is I will continue to write about people more than points and rebounds and if that makes you feel uncomfortable you may need to turn the page or take your own inventory before others. Or maybe you just thought it was a lousy column. : ).
Chicago: Yes he's a bully: I'm with bully verdict. Dumb prankster: poops in boss's shoes. Hazing bully: poops in junior teammate's shoes.
Mike Wise: Doesn't look good, either way. I endorse funny. I don't endorse hurtful and hazing.
Parma, Ohio: I'm a 32 year-old black man, played scholarship football four years for a nationally ranked team in the 1990's, and spent a couple years as a benchwarmer in the NFL. So I hardly consider myself naive, but both the Tiger situation and the Arenas/athletes with guns in general stories have knocked me for a loop.
I'm glad my sons are too young to read so I have some time to think how to explain this to them by the time they start asking questions.
Mike Wise: It's a weird parallel. I mean, the guy everybody thought was too much of a machine finally became a person -- and now no one can deal with the flawed human being Tiger Woods is.
And the guy who opened his life to everyone -- Mr. Tweet-Happy Athlete of All Time -- said too much and ended up suspended and his Twitter account shut down.
Wild, just wild.
I would say that neither Tiger nor Gilbert should be judged solely on their worst moment. No one should.
Fairfax, Va.: Do you think the reaction to this victimless prank (except for Gilbert of course) would be this severe in Houston, Miami, Portland or any other city outside the overly PC Washington, DC? I'm sure the Lakers didn't get rid of everything associated with Kobe when he was accused of rape. And, after researching some of the suspensions handed out by D. Stern, it would appear you can be "fit to play in the NBA" after being conviced of domestic abuse, driving 55 mph OVER the speed limit with an unrestrained 3-year old in the back seat, but for goodness sake, don't joke around with your teammates about having unloaded guns in the locker room!
Mike Wise: Doesn't matter. Wrong is wrong.
Laguna Beach, Calif.: Hey Mike,
As you noted, Gil was suspended for his actions after the incident...not for the guns.
Having said that, surprised there hasn't been more of a discussion about what does "unfit" to play in the NBA mean. What's the definition as used by Stern. I know it's not in the CBA.
Once defined, let's use that "unfit" criteria and make sure it is applied across the board to players. Under this standard that Stern has now established, I would think players like West would fall into the suspend now rather than wait category.
Mike Wise: Great, great question, one our editors should be asking right now: What does that mean? Because I know a lot of players who are "unfit to play" psychologically but end up finding their way onto a court or field of play because of the "edge" they provide.
And with all due respect, it's hockey. : Last time I listen to your show buster. I used to like you.
Mike Wise: Figures a hockey fan would take everything so personal. I mean, the only person who could take it more personal is a hockey editor. (That's right, you Applebaum : ).
All right, what if I talk Caps for a solid hour tomorrow? Will you come back? Please? I have neglected that sport recently. Heck, we all have.
Rockville, Md.: When do you expect the criminal investigation of what happened that day will conclude? Once that is done, won't the NBA, Wiz, and players involved know more about what they are up against?
Mike Wise: At least two weeks, because between road trips and the holidays a lot of interviews by investigators have yet to take place.
Silver Spring, Md.: America has a love affair with guns - over the weekend I saw on tv several ads for upcoming movies - all of them involved big guns and vigalantes. The Congress overturned DC's gun law. The NRA runs a very powerful lobby. So I'm a bit confused about all the outrage over Gil's actions when these other gun worshipping actions are taken in stride. Wizards fans wouldn't be so quick to want to dump Gil if the team had a better record. Gil deserves a second chance...
Mike Wise: I agree he deserves a second chance; I'm just not so sure it will come with Wizards.
Career considerations: Gil missed two seasons for injury, and has now by stupidity given himself a 3rd year to rehab the knee. Granted, the injury was a big deal, but he doesn't have a lot of miles on him for a 28 year old. How many good years does he have left?
Mike Wise: I believe if he eventually gets back to full strength that Gilbert Arenas has three prime years left and maybe 5 to 7 years altogether. Even when they lose their quickness, perimeter scorers and guys who can draw fouls stay around forever.
Anonymous: Given Arenas's personality that the whole world is against him, wouldn't be good to keep him?
I guess it's safe to say he is not worth $111M compared to Wade and James, but he could be a steal at $85 to 90 even after two surgeries.
Second question, my other issue with Post coverage is it comes out now that Arenas was not listening to the right folks during rehab and caused the long recovery.
Mike Wise: Both sides were pointing fingers at each other. Bottom line, Gilbert wanted to do it his way with rehab. When it didn't work, the accusations started flying. Wouldn't be surprised to see him go to Chicago and begin working out with Tim Grover, MJ's old trainer, again very soon.
Washington, D.C.: Arenas's whole career has been driven by the chip on his shoulder -- he thought he was great and nobody in the NBA thought he was a first round draft pick. Is there any chance that this kerfuffle (which is a much, much smaller deal that, say, Kobe's trouble with the law) could provide Gil with extra motivation to produce on the court? (In 2011?)
Mike Wise: Yes, which is kind of sad really if you think about it.
I mean, shouldn't someone get to a point when they prosper during prosperity? I always get the feeling that Gilbert doesn't feel he deserves to be happy. Heck, I've battled that myself sometimes and ended up sabotaging things in my own life.
Until he realizes he's no longer the underdog, that he doesn't have to make himself the underdog, he's never going to move forward with his life or his career. Hopefully he knows that know.
Washington, D.C.: Doesn't Gilbert Sr. feel any responsibility for how Gil, Jr. turned out? I'm getting really tired of these "blame the media" quotes.
Mike Wise: If you're going to blame Gil Sr. for how Gil turned out, you better sure as hell blame him for being the hero in his son's life when he was abadoned in a crack house by his mother as an infant.
He gave up his own dream of being an actor to provide for his child. He taught Gilbert a lot of things. And Gilbert Sr. wasn't specifically blaming the media for everything. He was just tired of his son being criticized for a clown when so many of us loved that part of Gilbert -- and, frankly, enabled some of his goofy behavior.
Silver Spring, Md.: Why didn't the Wizards management suspend Arenas immediately after he publicly admitted to bringing guns into the Verizon Center? Firstly, it would have been the right thing to do. Secondly, it would most likely have prevented the gun-slinging gesture in Cleveland and Gil's post game remarks (which made this such a bigger story).
Mike Wise: David Stern told them not to before he ruled on the incident himself.
Washington, D.C.: Regarding my question about Ernie Grunfeld's role in enabling Gilbert all along (not supporting Eddie Jordan), why is this NOT being mentioned by many? If this were Vinne Cerrato, or Dan Snyder, They would've been ripped to shreds in the press by now.
Mike Wise: I think Ernie and the late Mr. Pollin walked a fine line just like Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss walked a fine line with Kobe.
On one end, you want to support someone during their toughest times and certainly not alienate them from resigning a contract with your club.
On the other hand, you create obvious double standards you wouldn't for, say, Smush Parker, or, yes, Javaris Crittenton.
It's a tough line to walk as a franchise, and I'm glad I wasn't involved in the discussions they had about it.
Annandale, Va.: On your radio show last week you mentioned that Arenas has a track record of not trusting or accepting people unless he has shown them his worst behavior in a situation and they still come back to him.
If this is true do you think he has gone too far in this situation with this philosophy or he just can't accept the fact that he has finally screwed up to the point of no return
Mike Wise: Yes and, sadly, yes.
State of Bolivion: If the circumstances you reported in your 1/3 story bear out, Javaris Crittenden is facing multiple felony counts (concealed weapon, assault w/a deadly weapon and unlawful possession charges). Any idea why neither the team nor the league have taken any steps to suspend him? Any guess as to when the grand jury may return indictments on him?
Mike Wise: Javaris is not currently playing and has kept his mouth shut, thereby giving David Stern the opportunity to weigh the simultaneous ongoing investigations by police and the NBA before making his decision on Javaris.
Rockville, Md.: Because of the contract, I guess fans are hoping it can be voided. But in all likelihood, unless Arenas is found to commit a felony, does that really seem to be likely? It seems like the Wiz are stuck with him.
Mike Wise: Much will depend on how Ted Leonsis feels about all this, if in fact his bid is accepted by the Pollin family. They may be stuck with him if the contract is not voided, which is why both sides better be ready to make peace just in case.
Anonymous: This event with Gilbert Arenas supports the idea that sports figures are to be treated differently by their teams, the press, and the public.
Why shouldn't the rules of owning and the use of guns apply to Gilbert Arenas as they would to any ordinary citizen?
Why shouldn't he be held to the same standard.
It semms to me that the "kid gloves" treatment only panders to Gilbert Arenas's position as an athelete, not his responsibilities as "ordinary citizen."
Mike Wise: Legally, he will be held to the same standard as any citizen.
Washington, D.C., 20005: How realistic is it that the Wizards will be able to exercise the "moral turpitude" clause in his contract or any other "out" to cancel Gilbert's contract? By the way it was funny seeing Alabama's ARENAS sacking Texas' GILBERT. Arenas sacking Gilbert...isn't that what our Gilbert did?
Mike Wise: You don't miss much, D.C. : ).
Washington, D.C.: The guns were registered but he did not have a license. It costs about $200 for the first three years, which works out to around $67 a year. Did he not have the money?
Mike Wise: No, Gilbert is poor. He has no money. Sixty-seven dollars is a lot of money for an NBA superstar. That's why they don't gamble.
Germantown, Md.: The media has a late model, highly tuned fine running Corvette sitting in their driveway but yet the media insists on talking at length about their Pinto up on blocks that needs a new clutch and engine. Pardon my long allegory but with the most exciting hockey player in world and the top notch Capitals in town, far too much attention is spent on the dysfunctional Gil Arenas. Is it because only bad behavior sells?
Mike Wise: On radio, I said, "Because it's hockey." Flippant, quick, good for polarizing people either way.
In truth, we have neglected a very good hockey team -- perhaps a Stanley-Cup winning hockey team in five months -- in this town.
Tomorrow on the Mike Wise Show, it's all Ovie, all the time. Promise. Okay, for at least an hour.
Washington, D.C.: Is it, as Steinberg suggests in his blog today, a bit harsh of the Wizards to remove any evidence of Arenas ever existing? Is it also a bit foolish, given that he seems the type to hold a grudge and, barring a miracle contract void, he's under contract for the next 4.5 years?
Mike Wise: Have they removed every photo and/or reference? That would be a crime, given the money and excitement he brought to the arena and franchise over the years -- a flat-out crime.
Washington, DC: RIghtfully so, Gilbert Arenas was suspended by the NBA. His initial behavior was wrong...and he followed up with even dumber actions in Philadelphia. I am just interested in Mr. Crittendon. Did he or didn't he pull a gun in the initial incident in the lockerroom?
Mike Wise: According to two eyewitnesses interviewed by the Post, he pulled a gun, chambered a round and held the weapon while he was singing. He never pointed it at Arenas, according to our reporting.
Boonsboro, Md: Hey Mike,
just read the Jayson Williams article and couldnt help but compare the two stories. Ironically, Williams kills a guy and has gotten off pretty much scott free, other than some restitution, and Gilbert is getting nailed to the cross. Thoughts?
Mike Wise: Well, take it easy. Jayson Williams, another guy I used to cover who had a lot in common with Gilbert, accidentally shot a man and killed him. His life and career were ruined from that moment on, irrespective of not going to jail. Do you see Jayson Williams on TV, furthering his career?
So, no comparison thus far.
Washington, DC: Penalties for a first offense carrying pistol without a license (CPWL) in DC are generally minimal, its a misdemeanor and without other circumstances results in immediate release (and confiscation of weapon). So, it seems Arenas would not have had any real penalties whatsoever had he not run his mouth (or twitter or whatever), right?
Mike Wise: To quote Sherman Lewis, Bingo!
Washington, DC: Would Arenas be qualified to continue his pro ball career overseas, that is if he's accepted? If he can redeem himself, perhaps NBA can change their mind in the future.
Mike Wise: He won't go overseas. That's my prediction. He would rather get a good run at Venice Beach with Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.
Managua Nicaragua: Big MW! how are you. I remember going to Mcdonough this summer to watch some hoops and what a great surprise to see Gilbert playing there with one of the summer league teams. My wife, a big fan of his couldn't believe it, we were sitting right in front of him. Our opinion of Gil was that he loves the game and is a star of the people. Now fast forward and all we want is for him to get some help and play again but not with the Wizards. I am a little upset that the Wizards never discipline him. People don't get it, that a lot of these pros only know what they play and very little else in life. The NBA, NFL, should have some kind of a test and base on the result it will be decided if you need to attend the Life 101 course before you sign your contract. Too many "knuckleheads" to take something from Wilbon. adios
Mike Wise: Hello Managua! That's Gilbert, man of the people. Too bad he's forever endangered the persona of the Gilbert we have come to know and love.
Abroad: Hey Mike,
I was struck by what Gilbert's father said at the end of the long piece in the Post on Gil's suspension. I'm paraphrasing, but he said that Gilbert's got to wait it out so that people can see his heart again.
Mike, that's the problem! No one questions Gil's intentions - his heart. They question his actions. Understanding that one's intentions are not enough is part of being an adult.
If this is the advice that Gil's getting from those closest to him, I'm afraid he's gonna keep missing what's going on here.
Mike, if you can, help the man!
Mike Wise: It's weird. I want to give Gilbert all this advice, off the record. But he's also someone I have to cover. And if I go too far, it borders on unethical behavior as a journalist.
I want the best for him -- as I do Jason Campbell, Donald Brashear, heck, any athlete I really like that I cover. But I can't get involved. It's neither healthy nor professional. But thanks for the thoughts.
Rockville, Md.: I'm a longtime Wizards season ticket holder and remember when Gilbert came to town as a Warrior and flamed the local team out. I admire his joy and his flair for the goofy and unusual, not to mention dumb and foolish. I do not believe he has a mean or vicious bone in his irresponsible head.
That said, I'd be interested in whether you think Stern and the Pollin family went hypocritically overboard in their condemnation of his behavior. He was their overpaid and hyped puppet who lived in a world they made.
Do you agree with the actions taken and think he should be punished further if there's no felony and no extreme civil action?
Mike Wise: I think there is some hypocrisy in sponsoring silliness through an NBA.com blog that everyone acknowledged was so refreshing and candid next to all the the athletes driving away from arenas behind tinted windows.
Now that Gilbert has spoken too much, you want to shut him up.
I also believe gun violence is something Mr. Pollin railed against. Whether you think changing the team's nickname was PC or a genuine, if modest, act to change culture in D.C. -- and I believe the latter -- doesn't matter.
The memory of Mr. Pollin was being besmirched every time the case and incident were poked fun at by Gilbert. Once the mock pistols happened, that was it. They had to do something.
When Gilbert talks again, I wouldn't be surprised if he thanked Stern before he really did something to hurt himself.
Owings Mills, Md.: Is the Wizards erasing of Gilbert's existence at Verizon only until he shows contrition or have they really more on for good, already?
Mike Wise: I really don't know. You've got me there. I think they would like to move on, but they are not going to eat $80 million.
Washington, D.C.: Can the Wizards document any effort to provide Gilbert with mental health counseling support before the guns incident, but after some of the defecating and other questionable boys will be boys incidents?
Mike Wise: An NBA official has told us they provided counseling. Hippa laws prevent the team from disclosing in fact if he was treated.
Washington, D.C.: Mike - Do you know if anybody official (team or league, not players and friends) reached out to Gilbert prior to the Philly game? Seems something like "shut the heck up, or we're going to suspend you" would have saved both sides a lot of trouble.
Mike Wise: Again, Gilbert is going to do what Gilbert wants to do. They knew the job of keeping Gil under wraps was dangerous when they decided to re-sign him.
Lanham, Md.: With all the extractions caused by Gilbert Arenas and the facts that he is not at heart a point guard and is a lousy defender, might the Wizards be a better team without him?
Mike Wise: It's distraction not extraction, but no worries. I get words wrong all the time.
Bottom line, if Gilbert is healthy the Wizards are a better team WITH him. I will argue that with any old basketball head any day of the week.
Mike Wise: Okay, I've answered every question (that hasn't been repeated) in the que. I felt responsible to do it thoroughly and not just have Stephen Ball type my answers on the part of the radio show we dedicated to the chat today.
Thank you for weighing in. Thanks to Cameron at the Post, (okay, you too Lindsey Applebaum) and Bill Rohland, C.J. and Stephen back at the radio station.
As many of you know, the show is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. And, I promise, we will talk pucks tomorrow.
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