Crank It Up, Feel the Health


I never thought I'd get a chance to experience Tiger Woods, or Brett Favre, but here I am. As best as I can tell, NBA blogging exists at this point to type, all drivel-like, about whatever someone told someone else in the last hour. Good thing I am busy with the book. However, one thing's clear: There's a lot of bullshit in the air, of the worst, inflammatory kind. And once that stuff is said, there's no going back. No correction ever really repairs things. The process by which a celebrity beats back initial false reports is almost as fascinating as it is sickening. And as I've said, some public figures simply lack the clout to move past it.

I come here not to blindly defend Arenas, or offer explanations as I did when Delonte rolled around strapped. I still don't know, any better than you or the constantly updated news stories do, what happened and how it interfaces with the law. But a lot of the reporting here, and blog dissemination of it, is straight out of last summer's campaign. I know, Sharpton's contrasting the arena Obama watches games at with steel in the locker room. And yet isn't this "where there's smoke, there's outrage" b/w "there's always next hour's web update to clean things up" approach to news exactly what allowed the right to get traction with stupid shit throughout the campaign?

But in a lot of ways, this is even worse. Dear everyone, do you remember who broke the John Woo-ready version of the story? Peter Vecsey. Along with Sam Smith, he's pretty much the one reporter whose rumors you might as well write the opposite of and go from there. Now in this case, he did have a kernel of truth in what he wrote. Yet he wrapped it up in every conceivable layer of sensationalism, and continues to even in the thrice-scrubbed-over version of the story that sits on the Post's site now.

(Lang reminded me that Gil pointed out that one of Vecsey's original sources was a street ball player. Appropriate, seeing as Vecsey's the And1 of NBA reportage.)

Vecsey unleashed a scene right out of the old cowboy Pacers, Yahoo! actually came first, but theirs was much more solidly on the back of previous reports about the investigation. And from there, all hell broke loose. We built this city on Peter Vecsey; Yahoo!'s far more responsible report inadvertently added fuel to the fire. It was a classic example of going for broke with the news micro-cycle—and, if anyone cares, setting up readers of print dailies to be completely misinformed for days on end.

Have I brought up Vecsey enough? Anyone remember when he claimed Josh Smith and Zaza were fightin' with fists in their locker room, and then had Smith attacking bouncers? These were major blows against a young player teetering between "future star" and "head case." Then, lo and behold, AJC beat writer supreme Sekou Smith—who was there—set the record straight. Read the whole link, but the gist: Peter Vecsey is a snake who makes shit up for tabloid reasons. Anyone who doesn't conduct themselves with this fact in mind is no better than him.


Now I'm just getting angry, which is when I'm at my least beautiful. Suffice it to say that I also find it odd how conveniently Gil's "moral turpitude" fits in with the Wizards long-term business interests. As was Monta's with the Warriors. So in conclusion, this would be a good moment for us all to learn to take a deep breath, not listen to false prophets, and realize that like it or not, sometimes these things take time. Otherwise, you might as well believe message boards. Those shits get updates like every five seconds!

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At 1/05/2010 1:06 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Darko's Mood is Currently: BEFUDDLED and I must say that is an appropriate response -- randomly generated emotion or no -- to this whole Washington Bullets (or lack thereof) story.

You've summed up my feelings on all of this quite well: Gil may be in breach of NBA rules by stashing even unloaded pistols in his locker, but until somebody more credible than Peter Vescey shows up at this crime scene, I've got my arms folded and my screwface on. Hell, I'm more inclined to believe Gil himself on this story. He's at least got a track record of telling the truth, even when it doesn't reflect that well upon him.

At 1/05/2010 2:16 PM, Blogger Austen Whipple said...

But what we already is know is already enough for some reflection. A man is stashing guns at a workplace and in a city that bans them, in a city and at a workplace all people who read this site really care about.

Don't we have to ask ourselves: Would you want to pay this man $103 million to work for you? (His performance at work is, I suppose, another story.)

I raise this question because good analysis needs to look at conditions from all points of view, not just those points of view we are inclined to want to defend.

Peter Vescey is too easy a target, in other words, to think he's the story, even at this early stage in the NBA's most recent gun saga.

People, this is hugely important, not Plaxico in the way it played out, but, in the mind of a neutral observer, it is Plaxico in its arrogance, stupidity, and sociological meaning.

But great site. Always (I guess usually?) love the chance to read it.

At 1/05/2010 2:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

If Vescey is out of the picture, why is this still the biggest "players behaving badly" story since The Brawl?

At 1/05/2010 3:00 PM, Blogger Dylan Murphy said...

It only got such big coverage because of the Plaxico incident, and with Devin Harris claiming 75% of NBA players have guns, its hard not to make it a big deal.

Regarding the Wizards, I may be way out there by saying this, but isn't this a good thing for the Wizards? (I realize its horrible for the NBA.) It finally gives them reason to get out of Gilbert's monster contract and the first step towards rebuilding the team, since obviously they cannot win with the core players they have now.

At 1/05/2010 3:53 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

So does this mean that we won't be seeing the old red and white striped throwbacks any time soon?

That's the real crime here, as now I'll be forced to see those hideous Gold and Black mismatched things come back next time they play a semi-important game on ESPN, and not a piece of D.C.'s history.

At 1/05/2010 4:51 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

I don't think voiding Monta Ellis's contract fits GSW's "long-term business interests". He's their best player! GSW management threatened Ellis just to teach everyone a lesson.

On the other hand, Arenas has proven to be hideously overvalued compared to his contract. He (and Elton Brand) are the two guys with the most incentive to behave nicely, so as to avoid giving their team a right of termination.

At 1/05/2010 5:08 PM, Blogger Deckfight said...

why did vecsey leave TV? did he not get picked up when NBC lost the NBA or was it before then?

At 1/05/2010 5:17 PM, Blogger Blue Moon said...

"On Monday, December 21st, I took the unloaded guns out in a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate."

Wow, that's hilarious. Can't wait for one of my co-workers to joke with me like that (I work with a bunch of police officers). On a more serious note, Vescey aside, D.C. gun laws are pretty strict, and Gil's explaination is pretty sorry. Trying to have a little empathy, but it's not happening. I'm not exactly outraged -- it's just another example of a public brain fart - mine are a lot less publicized (and less liable to lead to D.C. lockup).

At 1/05/2010 5:31 PM, Blogger Mouth said...

It's been a few years since I went to him for basketball news, so I think it's now okay to get personal with the Viper-hate. Peter Vecsey's daughter was the first thing I saw when I entered my dorm room freshman year at CofC. She was cute, lounging on a bed in a room that hadn't yet been furnished, and DJ, my roommate, saw her for a while. She stayed in a roach-infested house several blocks from campus and didn't like to talk about her father, even when my roommate and I discussed the NBA and DJ's old Jamaal Tinsley playground ball stories. I don't know how much money Peter Vecsey makes, but he definitely should have hooked up his daughter with some better living conditions. I guess they mended their relationship after her first couple semesters, though, because she rocked a NY Knicks jersey with "Vecsey" on the back at times in my sophomore and junior years.

Anyway, I have trouble reading his columns, even the well-written venomous ones, because I can't get past those cockroaches in his daughter's house or the fact that she made me pay to tap the keg at her house parties.

I was a 'Linkstigator' for a long time in the pre-SI Lang Whitaker days, and Slam always appealed to me more than Vecsey.

And now Mr. Shoals is onboard with the anti-Vecsey sentiment, as well, so I don't think I'll be reading him ever again.

At 1/05/2010 5:45 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Can someone please explain to me what the big deal is? Arenas broke a law; if he'd been in other states, he wouldn't have been in violation.

Unloaded guns. A silly prank. No one involved actually angry. Ignorance of the law.

What exactly is the outrage over, other than the fact that, as someone says, NBA players have guns? Gil's weren't loaded and he was turning them in. What kind of puritans are you people?

At 1/05/2010 6:14 PM, Blogger Austen Whipple said...

Bethlehem: People who carry guns have a responsibility to act like they understand the gravity of the object they carry. Arenas's excuse that this was all a 'joke' is a major problem. He is incredibly immature (and a selfish, boring basketball player to boot).

I don't think he should go to jail or anything. But if I owned the Wizards, I'd void the contract tomorrow.

At 1/05/2010 6:35 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I don't come to sports for moralizing. Who fucking cares if he thought it was a joke, especially when guns are all over the place in the NBA?

Boring? No.
Immature? Who fucking cares?
Selfish...well, yeah.

If you voided the contract tomorrow, you would also live on another planet where that was possible.

At 1/05/2010 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound overly earnest here can I just reemphasize a point you made:

"I also find it odd how conveniently Gil's "moral turpitude" fits in with the Wizards long-term business interests."

This conversation about voiding his contract would not be happening if Gil was averaging 30 a night.

At 1/05/2010 8:02 PM, Blogger Subliminal B said...

Arenas was a dick for playing with guns, but I couldn't care less about his stupidity. I'm more perturbed by the Wiz trying to rid themselves of the ridiculous extension they signed him to last summer.

They paid a dude coming off 3 surgeries in ~18 months over $100 million. Their penance should be having to pay out every cent of that contract. NBA teams overbidding against themselves sickens me greatly. Elton Brand's deal falls into the same category.

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At 1/05/2010 8:59 PM, Blogger Bobby Generic said...

It's not illegal to fuck some random groupie on the road or have an affair with over a dozen women (i.e., Kobe/Colorado, Tiger), but these stories got waaaaaay more coverage than the Gilbert Arenas story is getting...point being, you're looking at it from the wrong perspective if you're saying that what Gil did wouldn't even be illegal in any place other than DC. It's getting coverage because it's an absurdly horrible idea for the NBA to simply push aside illegal gun possession (or even casual pssession of a gun at all). Not every fan of the game is a mid-20s college student that thinks this story is irrelevant because its common knowledge that players carry guns.

It's not common knowledge to little kids. Not only that, it's a stereotype that older basketball fans (that usually already hate the NBA because they fin it unrelatable) thrust upon the league's current catalog of players, and incidents like these only reinforce those stereotypes. The effect this kind of news has on those audience members/potential audience members is significant, regardless of how serious Gil may have been, or even the legality of what he did.

Remember when Michael Phelps smoked pot shortly after winning 8 gold medals? That was all over the media for a little while too, which is ridiculous when you think about how small a deal it should be...but he's famous, and supposed to be a role model, as unfair as that may be...so it's not just the NBA/Arenas and it's not just Peter Vescey, this sort of thing happens all the time.

At 1/06/2010 3:41 AM, Blogger Subliminal B said...

Here's a photoshop that I've dubbed Menace II Liquidity. Corny, for sure. It cracks me up though.


At 1/06/2010 10:21 AM, Blogger Silas said...

I think baobao actually makes a good point about how dangerous it is to demand perfection from an imperfect person. Relationship between a team and a player IS something both parties should work hard on, which is to say that the Wizards also hold a certain amount of responsibility for this... whatever it was.

I don't think the story is irrelevant because lots of NBA players carry guns, but the fact that lots of NBA players carry guns is relevant to the story. I know it's weird to imagine a workplace in which people prank each other with unloaded guns, but that's what the NBA is. I can't imagine working for people who put amphetamines into the coffee, but that's what they did in Major League Baseball in the 90s. Atheletes are held to a different standard. The team, and the league itself, remains complicit right up to the point where fans get upset, and then the player is always soley responsible.

If we're all going to wail and gnash our teeth about the gambling and the guns and the various other "thuggery" that takes place, then we need to direct our anger at the league as a whole rather than vilifying each player unlucky enough to get caught.

As for the validity of Vecsey's report... did you not see that it was CONFIRMED by known beltway insider Kendrick "Bookie Ball" Long?

At 1/06/2010 11:03 AM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Moral issues don't really have an impact on my enjoyment of basketball itself (ie, golf was still boring and stupid back when Tiger wasn't known to cheat and have questionable taste in women), but this definitely makes Arenas as a person look a little lame.

First, he is very rich; he does not need guns, and they could only ever cause him problems, so this was very stupid. Second, he plays for the former Bullets (name changed because the deceased owner's friend got shot), so to store guns at his team's facility is very insensitive, and again, stupid.

One of the main tenets of this site seems to be the identification of fans with players, so this actually is kind of an important story if you really like Arenas. Since this is FreeDarko, I assume that is most people here. Yes, the media should probably get its facts straight, but the guns are still kind of a big deal, and I don't actually believe that many people have taken any of these sensationalized reports seriously anyway.

At 1/06/2010 2:34 PM, Blogger Austen Whipple said...

Bethlehem: Whether or not you come to sports for moralizing has nothing to do with why people might be upset with Arenas. First, it looks like he broke laws. Second, he outed himself as an egregiously irresponsible gun-owner who brought guns to a workplace. And third, the Wizards would be better if he wasn't around to steal more efficient offensive players' shots.

Ok, so the third issue doesn't have anything to do with the guns.

Regardless, I'm surprised you can't see beyond your own perspective here.

And yes, Arenas is a boring basketball player. He was ok when he had explosive lift on 30 foot jump shots. But now they clank of the front rim. He's shooting barely 40 percent, with an ego that will kill teams. Boring. Unwatchable. Cringe-worthy. Do those adjectives work better? Basketball is boring to both watch and play when the guy who gets away with thinking he's the best player on the court isn't the best player on the court.

At 1/07/2010 3:34 AM, Blogger tray said...

I don't think his transgression is the worst thing in the world but it's not this total non-issue. What if he kept some explosives in his locker, but didn't have any matches or detonation device immediately on hand? Would it be okay to do that? Obviously not. Gilbert doesn't have any reason to have guns in his locker; no one's robbing him in his own locker room. If he wants to avoid a carjacking and drive around with guns, that's one thing. But leaving weapons around in the workplace, and then jokingly offering one to someone who may take you more seriously than you'd intended, is reckless. All a person would have to do if he wanted to cause harm was supply some bullets.

At 1/07/2010 10:51 AM, Blogger tray said...

And in fact, reportedly Crittenton did take Arenas's joke more seriously than it was intended:

"Crittenton responded to Arenas's action — which included laying the four unloaded weapons in Crittenton's cubicle with a note that read, "Pick One" — by brandishing his own firearm, loading a clip of ammunition into the gun and cocking the weapon." Wa Post. This is the sort of reaction Arenas should have realized his innocent little joke could incite. The whole thing could have gotten fatally out of hand. Bottom line, you endanger people's lives when you bring guns, loaded or unloaded, to work, you endanger them some more when you start joking about having a gunfight with someone who's angry at you. Sure, no one's been shot in an NBA locker room before, but the risk, though small, is still there and it was still pretty reckless.


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