The latest athlete to get in trouble for playing with guns is Gilbert Arenas, the marquee guard for D.C.'s Washington Wizards. The NBA star pleaded guilty Friday to a felony count for carrying a pistol without a license, with the deal stipulating Arenas will serve no more than six months in prison. The charges stemmed from a Dec. 21 locker-room incident when Arenas laid four unloaded handguns in front of teammate Javaris Crittenton's locker with a note that said "pick one." The dispute began over a gambling debt.
Arenas is hardly a trendsetter. He's simply the last in a virtual assembly line of professional athletes whose gun incidents led to guilty pleas. And for every fallen sports star, there's been a columnist eager to dish some scathing social commentary.
Athlete: Stephen Jackson, forward, Golden State Warriors
Incident: Fired a gun into the air during an argument outside an Indianapolis club
Charged with: Felony criminal recklessness
Pled Down To: Misdemeanor criminal recklessness
Sentence: One year of probation, 100 hours community service
Commentary: SF Gate blogger Betting Fool argued Jackson got off virtually scot-free
What I do know is that by plea bargaining, and if the judge accepts his lawyer's offer, he will likely go from facing a year in jail to basically -- nothing. Yes, Stephen Jackson will be a free man, despite what appears to be a gross violation of the terms of his probation, a probation levied upon him because of his involvement in one of the ugliest incidents in sports history. the Pacers-Pistons brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Incident: Accidentally shot himself in the leg in a New York club
Charged with: Two counts criminal possession of a weapon, one count criminal recklessness
Pled Down To: Attempted criminal possession of a weapon
Sentence: Two-year prison term
Commentary: The Daily News' Joanne Page said Burress belonged in classrooms, not in prison
Burress committed a serious crime, but real social justice would require him to pay for his offense in a more constructive way, not simply languishing in an expensive prison cell. An example should be made of him, and he should pay the community back in service, time and money.
Athlete: Gilbert Arenas, guard, Washington Wizards
Incident: Left four unloaded handguns next to a teammate's locker with a note that said "pick one" after a gambling dispute
Charged With: Carrying a pistol without a license
Pled Down To: Same charge, with a reduced sentence
Sentence: Up to six months in jail (sentencing to take place March 26)
Commentary: The Washington Post's Tracee Hamilton writes that Arenas won't be able to laugh this off
A little jail time might have been the best thing for Arenas at this point. His first 28 years on Earth apparently failed to imbue him with even a modicum of common sense.