Pistol-packing Arenas gives NBA too much ammunition

I received a message Wednesday that our mailboxes at the newspaper might change. I don’t think this means they will shrink any, which is a good thing.

You know, in case I wanted to bring my piece to work one day.

You know, if I had a piece.

Gilbert Arenas seems to have enough for all of us. He could outfit an entire scene from “The Matrix” by himself. He even has one of those gold-plated Desert Eagle babies. I asked for one at Christmas, just because that’s how I roll, but the wife thought a wallet and socks fit my style more.

That, and the idea of handing a deadly weapon over to the guy who nearly slices open an artery while shaving probably isn’t the best decision with young children near. I couldn’t even be trusted with an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.

I’d shoot both eyes out.

I’m assuming it’s OK to joke about such matters because that’s the impression happy-go-lucky Gilbert gave for a while there. That is, until he felt all the hot water building up around his locker, the one without any ammunition stored in it.

The area finally flooded this week when the NBA indefinitely suspended Arenas without pay for violating the league’s rules about bringing guns to the workplace.

That was the official reason.

The real one: Arenas and his act have grown old.

Not to worry. I have to think he will discover productive ways to spend his time away from the Washington Wizards. I’m guessing he’s really good at playing “Modern Warfare.” He probably has the high score in the entire D.C. Metro area.

What he doesn’t and shouldn’t have today is a paycheck.

If you are already typing a nasty e-mail response about Arenas and his right to keep and bear arms, don’t bother. He does as much as any other citizen. This isn’t about the Second Amendment. It’s about a guy who is either too arrogant for his own good or, well, just too stupid.

I don’t for a second believe it’s the latter.

Gilbert Arenas isn’t dumb. He just thinks everyone else is.

The guns weren’t loaded. Fine. He put three of them on a chair and told teammate Javaris Crittenton to choose in response to a conflict over a gambling debt but was really just having some fun. Probably. Arenas is a self-proclaimed goofball. Definitely.

But like the defiant child who continually tests his mother’s patience, Arenas made the mistake of taking too far the maverick persona that fans and media came to appreciate.

He is suspended today as much for his actions after setting those guns on a chair as making the foolish decision to do so. His career is in jeopardy as much for tarnishing the image NBA officials desire through his tweets and aloof quotes and pregame antics as being among what some reports say are 75 percent of players who own firearms.

The character traits that made Arenas so engaging at times just might be the ones that cost him the remaining $78 million of his contract. It’s a hefty price to pay for continuing to act the part of goofball.

In the end, Arenas kept playing the role of clown even when teammates and other players began questioning his actions. He chose carefully prepared statements of apologies (translation: the kind attorneys write) over genuine comments of remorse, then continued to make light of the matter through social network tools and by waving his index fingers like pistols before a game Tuesday.

It’s not that he doesn’t get it. He does.

He just doesn’t know when to stop.

In announcing the suspension, NBA commissioner David Stern didn’t say Arenas was “not currently fit to take the court” because he owns guns. If that were the case, the league might include only two teams. Arenas is unfit because he is unwilling to conform in the slightest and treats rules as inconveniences not necessary to follow.

The NBA isn’t asking Gilbert Arenas to be something he’s not. He’s a free spirit in a sport defined by creativity and expression. It’s just asking him to finally realize a line exists out there for everyone, even goofballs, and for him to stop crossing it.

It’s asking him to grow the hell up.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He also can be heard weeknights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. On “The Sports Scribes” on KDWN-AM (720) and www.kdwn.com.

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