We sit next to our TV sets or pick up our morning papers and find the news that another millionaire, who is playing a game for a living, is on the road to self-destruction.

What I find sad is the fact that those who are clean at the moment, so to speak, aren’t learning from those around them who have thrown away lucrative careers.
What has prompted this missive is the plight of Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas. If you aren’t a basketball fan or even a Wizards fan, you may not be aware of the drama surrounding this young man.

For openers, Arenas was supposed to be the savior of the Wizards franchise. Granted, he is a superstar, but it seems like in the past three seasons he has spent more time in street clothes than short pants. In a fast-paced game on hardwood floors, injuries can be expected, and Gilbert has had his share. However, I have a problem with his criticism of his teammates in the media.

His outspoken attitude caused a clash with teammate Javaris Crittenton back in December 2009. In response to this dispute, Arenas appeared with four firearms. This news leaked out of the locker room, and Gilbert was charged with felony possession of a firearm.

While waiting for his day in court, rumors circulated concerning his future with the team. He was at this time under suspension and the word on the street was the rest of his four-year, $80 million contract would be voided.

With the death of Abe Pollin, there was a lot of talk of how this was a slap in the face for the deceased Wizards’ owner. However, the family would not comment on the future of the three-time all-star.

Wizards President Grunfeld stated that Arenas will be in a Wizards uniform next season. He calls attention to the fact that Gilbert has contributed 23 points and six assists as his average with the team.  However, on the other side of this coin is the fact that the Pollin family was not interested in pursuing the complicated task of contract termination, which has never been successfully carried out in the NBA.

Arenas was initially at odds with the team over this incident. The team felt the sting of embarrassment and distanced themselves from him. He, on the other hand, was miffed over the fact that the team didn’t promote his jersey for sale while he was under mandatory suspension from the NBA.

While awaiting his day in court, Arenas’ recently acquainted but still-estranged mother, Mary Robinson, died of liver complications on March 13. Arenas was raised by his father, and didn’t have any contact with his mother, who lived a tragic life on the streets.

While speculation was that Gilbert would have to serve a little jail time because of the felony offense, he dodged the bullet, coming away with 30 days in a halfway house, two years of supervised probation, 400 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.

Well, “Agent Zero” has emerged relatively unscathed from his skirmish with the law. He has managed to hold on to a contract worth a little more than $20 million per year. Now let’s hope he has learned a valuable lesson and has sense enough to turn his feet away from the “road of self-destruction.”


Tim Lacy

Special to the AFRO