|Sportswire||Jan 2 2010|
Two NBA players go Tarantino on each other.
It must have looked like a scene from Reservoir Dogs. Two angry men pull guns on each other while arguing over money. The difference here is, both men were rich NBA basketball players, and the incident happened in the team’s locker room. That’s the report coming from sources such as the New York Post concerning why federal authorities and Washington, D.C. police are investigating Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton. Details remain sketchy, but both the NBA and the Wizards did confirm the probes were taking place. Professional athletes from Allen Iverson to Tom Brady have had gun-related incidents. But if the Washington story as described is accurate, it represents an explosive new example of America's pervasive athlete/gun culture.
The incident is especially disturbing for the NBA for two reasons—one, Arenas is no insignificant journeyman. He’s a two-time all-star, who, when healthy, is one of the most devastating scorers in the league. The second reason is the alleged subject of the argument—a gambling debt. The NBA is still trying to shake suspicions of fixed games that were raised when ex-referee Tim Donaghy claimed that he influenced scores for the benefit of gamblers. The NBA says Donaghy was just one bad apple, but several players have hinted that, based on their personal observations, Donaghy was probably not the only ref under the thumb of organized crime. A confrontation of the sort described between Arenas and Crittenton, even if it involved no weapons, would have worried NBA bigwigs because of the rumor it was over a gambling debt.
For now, those involved are keeping mum. Although Arenas did joke to journalists earlier this week, “You guys, I wanted to go rob banks, I wanted to be a bank robber on the weekends”—the suggestion perhaps being that highly paid athletes don't need to squabble over small change, thus the rumors swirling around he and Crittenton are ludicrous. But based on the previous behavior of figures in every sport from NASCAR to professional swimming, being rich and famous seems to have little effect on one’s propensity for finding trouble. NBA Player’s Association Executive Director Billy Hunter, asked for a comment on the Arenas situation, stated the obvious: “This is unprecedented in the history of sports. I’ve never heard of players pulling guns on each other in a locker room.”