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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Agent Zero or zero common sense?

Gilbert Arenas spent his time at the UA dazzling fans and draining buckets. He entered the league as a second-round draft pick but soon became a top player in the NBA. Just as he cooked up an astonishing $111 million contract, repeated injuries threatened his status as a premier NBA player.

Now, the ever-jovial Agent Zero’s unrestrained humor has placed his career and marketability in jeopardy after he and a teammate pulled guns on each other in the team locker room on Dec. 21.

Arenas attributed his mistake to a “”misguided effort to play a joke,”” but there’s little that he can laugh about now.

On Friday, Arenas pleaded guilty to federal gun charges. He remains free until his March 26 sentencing. His plea deal will offer from six to 12 months of jail time, much less than the possible maximum of five years. The details regarding a locker room dispute between Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton trickled in, transforming the incident from a case of bad judgment to a potentially lethal situation.

Arenas originally claimed he had brought unloaded guns into the locker room to keep them away from his children. The flimsy excuse quickly fell apart when it was revealed that the confrontation stemmed from a gambling dispute between Arenas and Crittenton.

The incident itself lacks any humor, but the excuses and explanations are rife with comedy. Not only was Arenas’ humor misguided, but he also absolutely botched the delivery.

Arenas started off his comedy routine by playfully suggesting that he would blow up Crittenton’s car, while Crittenton alluded to shooting Arenas in his knee, which has already endured three operations. There’s nothing like destruction of private property or career-ending assault to lighten the mood between two jokesters.

Having already taken such a negative tone, the dispute was a fire waiting for Agent Zero Common Sense to throw on the gasoline.

This prolonged pissing contest makes Arenas’ decision even more dangerous. Arenas made a conscious decision to bring multiple handguns to the locker room and elevate the situation from heated trash talk to legitimate violence. What he forgot to do is tell Crittenton that his guns were not loaded. According to two witnesses, Crittenton allegedly loaded his gun and placed a bullet in the chamber when confronting Arenas.

All kidding aside, Arenas could’ve been killed by his own egotistical brand of everybody-loves-me humor. Even though Arenas was in a joking state of mind, to teammate Crittenton, the introduction of firearms was no laughing matter.

The comedic tragedy, if it can be called that, of this incident is the classic falling from grace of the well-liked professional athlete. In expedient Tiger Woods fashion, Adidas dropped Arenas from their seven-year endorsement agreement, causing Arenas to lose an estimated $50 million. The Washington Wizards have already removed all Arenas merchandise from their stores as well as a giant Arenas banner that adorned their stadium. In all likelihood, especially with jail time, Arenas will be released by Washington and lose most of his mega-contract.

Arenas’ stunning ignorance has framed him as the caricature of irresponsible gun owners, a far cry from his previous image.

His public persona is one of genuine coolness; a spectacular athlete, physically dominant but with the lighthearted attitude of a teenager. For a man so well-liked and admired, his stupidity becomes almost shocking. It’s not that people envisioned him a genius, but they didn’t think he was that stupid. To think guns have a part in any joke is bad enough, but to actually act on that thought is beyond reproach.

What this incident shows is that anybody, no matter how popular or successful, can make a mistake. When that mistake involves the improper use of guns, mere punishment becomes an incredibly lucky alternative to the accidental death of a teammate or friend. Arenas still has a chance to redeem himself, both on and off the court, but he should never forget how close he was to losing everything – just one bullet away.

­— Dan Sotelo is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

 

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