On Gilbert Arenas.

Gilbert Arenas is much better at playing basketball than he is being funny. Because Arenas is really awful at the latter, it may have something to do with why he won’t be doing the former for an indefinite amount of time.

That things have gone so poorly for Arenas during a time of crisis is not much of a surprise. Especially if you’re at all familiar with Arenas’ background:

To understand Arenas, you have to go back to the beginning. To understand his journey, where he has traveled and how he came to light up a moribund basketball team in Washington, you need to start over. To understand the player who gallops off the Verizon Center floor bare-chested after tossing his jersey into the stands following Wizards home games, who likes to practice alone in the middle of the night, who must own every DVD and collectible jersey he can buy, who is such an extroverted performer that he leaves work to become a solitary homebody, you have to go back to the rundown Overtown section of Miami. You have to go back to apartment No. 9.

You have to go back to the mother who gave him up there.

The story is titled “The Psychic Scars That Shaped an NBA Star,” so that gives you a hint about how things unfolded from there.

Of course, Arenas rebounded and persevered to become a three-time All-Star and one of the NBA’s most distinctive personalities. In the same story, Arenas is described as “one of the league’s most enigmatic figures, an idiosyncratic loner, a charmingly candid young man who freely admits he pushes away those who get close to him.”

Later in that same story, we’re told about his highly-contentious relationship with his longtime girlfriend and mother of his daughter. During a custody and paternity dispute, one that forced him off the court for a bit, Arenas and his teammates tried to make light of the situation:

The ordeal went on so long it actually became a running gag with some of the Wizards. “We made it into a big joke,” Arenas said. “My teammates would say, ‘Gil’s on the run again,’ or, ‘You dodged that one like “The Matrix.” ‘ Oakland, Sacramento, Houston, Chicago. They were trying to serve me everywhere. I would stay under an alias.”

I, for one, missed the punchline. But through this piece, you can see how we got from there to here. As I mentioned earlier, it’s no surprise that he would respond poorly when faced with crisis.

Long story short: Gilbert Arenas is a troubled soul.

So with that in mind, it’s hard for me to get much out of this Twitter vent from Columbia professor and ubiquitous news pundit Marc Lamont Hill yesterday. It starts here, goes here and ends with this:

The Arenas situation is a perfect example of why we MUST develop more healthy and functional conceptions of masculinity.

Look, the latter part of that might be true. There’s certainly some value in developing healthier and more functional conceptions of masculinity. But I’m not seeing the connection to Arenas here.

Or rather, I see it, but I don’t buy it.

I’m wary of drawing larger conclusions from very specific incidents, particularly when a unique personality like Arenas is involved. In the end, Arenas ain’t got nothing to do with me, my little cousins, my friends from high school or my father.

He’s his own man, with his own set of problems. Let him deal with his. Let him serve out his suspension, however long it lasts. And don’t try to make his troubles ours.

That’s best left to pathology pimps like this guy.


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • That Washington Post story is sad. Gilbert is like the NBA’s version of the biblical Job, except he’s not broke. Those paternity woes, injuries, [he plays for the Wizards], the recent rumors that Shaq was having sex with his fiance, now this new drama. It just keeps piling on.

    ugh at you forcing me to read a Whitlock article. Can someone explain to me how Arenas’ actions damages the NBA brand? Do die hard NBA fans really stop watching a sport because a few players are irresponsible? What about advertisers? Charles Barkely admitted that he was on his way to get a blow job from a hooker during his DUI arrest, and he kept his NBA job and sponsors. Kobe was accused of rape…RAPE! but he consistently has the highest selling jersey in THE WORLD! Certainly it looks as if the NBA doesn’t have any control over it’s employees, but is it really costing them any money?