Well, then. This has been harder than expected. On Monday, when I detailed The Rise Of Gilbert Arenas and The Fall Of Gilbert Arenas, we could at least take comfort that everything was still a hypothetical discussion. A hypothetical with an inevitable end, but still. Now it's so real.
An icon from my childhood has been reduced to some lifesized puppet being trotted around for comedic effect in some circles, or revolutionary catcalls in others. Lord knows I still hope the Wizards void his contract, but more than anything, I wish this would all just go way. It's like an open wound at this point, and hearing everyone chime in has been more difficult than expected.
The debates about whether he should have been suspended, loaded guns vs. unloaded guns, whether his Twitter account made things worse, whether David Stern has an axe to grind... It's all just sad. None of this has been right or wrong or even that nuanced; it's all just incredibly depressing. For their part, the Wizards had this to say:
We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert’s recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert’s behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin’s leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so."
Ernie Grunfeld, President, Washington Wizards
Irene Pollin, Principal Owner, Washington Sports and Entertainment (WSE)
Robert Pollin, Chief Executive Officer, WSE
James Pollin, President, WSE
Reading that statement, you get the feeling that the Wizards are relieved to have had Stern interject. Especially after last night's histrionics, Gilbert had crossed a line with this franchise. Whether they void is contract is almost irrelevant at this point; no matter what, it's hard to imagine Gilbert Arenas ever wearing a Wizards uniform again. If you don't believe me, just re-read the team's statement. It's over for Gilbert in Washington.
As for the rest of us, the news caused quite a stir on Twitter:
Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com: What tipped the scales in the Arenas case? My opinion: It had a lot to do w/photo you can see by clicking on espn.com nba homepage. Also ... ... statement from Wizards reeks of disgust, making me suspect they're leaning toward voiding Arenas' contract, a la Warriors w/Sprewell.
Nate Jones of Goodwin Sports Media: Professional ball players need professional representation. I will leave it at that.
Kevin Durant: Continue to pray for gilbert arenas..i dont care what we do..we deserve a second chance!!
Mike Prada of Bullets Forever: It's unfortunate, but understandable that Gil's being judged as much for his actions after the incident than the incident itself. ... I've got no problem with Stern's decision. Gil did it to himself. Hope it's just a year-long thing and not more.
There are a lot of valuable insights there, and many more that were left out. But for now, as a Wizards fan raised on Gilbert Arenas, it's all sort of hard to process. So much for Character, Commitment, Connection.
Now I'm just confused.