(response to “NBA needs to teach guys like Arenas”)
In the early hours of the Arenas debacle—the post-suspension one, commentators took to the airwaves, blogs, and news sites to talk about what changes the NBA would need to make, to not only teach Gilbert Arenas a lesson, but to teach all the other boys in the league as well—not in my house! According to Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports resident turncoat, what “they” need is education. They being the “children from highly dysfunctional families and boys raised to be replacement husbands by single mothers.” As an aside, Whitlock represents the growing post-Imus trend of black people say racist, ahem, conservative things for white conglomerates to lessen protest possibility. Please don’t drink the kool-aid.
Of course, I’m not defending Arenas. I’m only saying there is little difference between his actions and those of a disgruntled USPS employee who takes weapons to their place of employment to solve petty intra-office disputes. And just like the USPS worker, he should be fired. All work places need rules and all transgressions need to be met with not only punishment, but with changes that will directly prevent them from occurring again. Thus, Whitlock’s idea to raise the league age requirement to 21 years of age after a near-30 year old player acts out is ludicrous. Let’s try and stay on point. Install metal detectors in the locker room, ban gambling on work property (as did Flip Saunders after the incident)—do the things you would do to foster a safe work environment in any other place of employment.
Even if the pathology of the underclass, as invoked by Whitlock, were a reliable factor here, four years of indentured servitude at a sports university wouldn’t do the trick. For crying out loud, Arenas has been rich for eight years and still hasn’t managed to rid himself of the destructive behavior that befalls many people with disposable income. Let us not forget the Paris Hiltons and Casey Johnsons of the world. I mean this for Whitlock and all the other conservative commentators (Cosby) who invoke and distort important Booker T. Washington ideology to defend race/behavior-based criticism launched at athletes/black men. Don’t make this about proper upbringing and “education.” Both code words, by the way. After all, some of the most violent acts, also involving guns, have occurred in some of the world’s leading educational institutions, right smack in the middle of instruction, books in hand.
Whitlock’s critique is misguided and irresponsible at best. While he insists the league should punish Arenas and by extension other players harshly, he almost entirely absolves the league of responsibility. He makes one comparison to embattled Cavaliers star, Delonte West. But wasn’t it Arenas who defecated in a teammate’s shoe as part of a work prank? Wasn’t this the same player who stole a co-worker’s car for payback after a lost wrestling match and parked it at the arena? Where was the league then? It seems, if anyone needs “education” it be the multi-billion dollar corporations and franchises that turn the other cheek on law-breaking behavior so they can continue to line their pockets. Can anyone say “accessory?” Seems impossible to teach “patriotism and mainstream family values” (also, Whitlock) when you are aiding and abetting.
Like Arenas, the NBA is no bastion of morals and this is as much a result of wayward superstars as it is of corrupt referees, sexually deviant commentators, and rowdy fans. If it makes sense to force players to be educated as a step towards a wholesome image, then it makes just as much sense to ban the likes of Marv Albert and to do away with alcohol in basketball arenas. Ultimately, what the NBA needs is a refresher course in the same laws and punishment subjected to its players.