Stern Warning: Commissioner tells Arenas, Wizards to Stay Mum about Guns

Stern Warning: Commissioner tells Arenas, Wizards to Stay Mum about Guns

Can Arenas Stay Quiet As David Stern wishes? (Getty Images)

Training camps around the NBA will be gearing up soon. It's an exciting time around Washington, as the Wizards welcome #1 overall pick John Wall to its backcourt where he will team with troubled superstar Gilbert Arenas.

The former "Agent Zero" returns to the Wizards after a 50-game suspension last season for his highly-publicized gun incident in the Wizards locker room and a plea to weapons charges which lead to a 30 day-sentence in a halfway house. Expectations are high for fans in the nation's capital. They will be eager to see how Wall and Arenas will co-exist in a backcourt pairing expected to lead the Wizards back to respectability.
However, if anyone is eager about hearing what Gilbert or anyone from the Wizards organization has to say about the gun incident from last season, they might be disappointed. Commissioner David Stern has advised Arenas and the Wizards to avoid commenting on the incident and to move forward. The move is poised to help the Wizards focus on the season and avoid an awkward or embarrassing moment with the media in the days leading up to the season. It's to be understood that this was not an order from Stern. It's more so a request.
Looking at it from his perspective, you can understand where Stern is coming from. As a commissioner of a league that has as much of worldwide reach as the NBA, you want to focus on as much of positive publicity as possible. However, the players in the league haven't done much to comply with the league's offices wishes. The NBA, out of all of the major sports leagues in the U.S., probably has the worst rap among its athletes. The stigma about NBA players and their behavior is due to the numerous legal troubles that they've encountered and the negative headlines that they've been in. The problem has only gotten worse in recent years and Stern and the NBA can't seem to get its arms around the off-the-court problems.
Stern and his office have done everything to improve the image of the league. From instituting a formal dress code before and after games to banning iPods and mp3 players from the warm-up sessions, and taking strict disciplinary action for outlandish actions on the court, he's made it quite clear that he's pushing for a different image than what is portrayed. However, the off-the-court troubles are much more damning than the on-court troubles. Maybe Stern might need to take the approach that his NFL counterpart in Roger Goodell has taken. Since taking office four years ago, Goodell has made it clear that the NFL will not tolerate off-the-field nonsense from its players. Ask players like Adam "Pacman" Jones, Michael Vick, Donte Stallworth, and most recently, Ben Rothlesberger. Goodell may have his critics, but he has made his stance clear.

The wild card in this whole situation is Arenas. The question is: will he be able to keep quiet? Remember, this is the same guy that loves to blog and dabble into social networking. He loves to interact with fans and keep the public updated with his every move via Twitter or his website. This is the same guy that made headlines about purchasing a 50,000-gallon tank and buying bull sharks for the tank. Even more infamous was the $1 million dollars 25th birthday party hosted by P.Diddy, where Arenas showed up and told the partiers to "get drunk and make bad decisions." This is the same Arenas that is the big jokester and even after his gun incident, made a joke about it amongst his teammates prior to a game by shooting air pistols.

Fact: When healthy and focused, Arenas is a Top 30 player in NBA. However, he hasn't been healthy or focused in the past three and a half years. The Wizards and their fans have to hope that he shows up this season a more mature and focused Arenas in their climb back to contention. With a new young prospect and a new attitude, it's the most anyone with a stake in the situation can ask for. If you're David Stern, you hope that Arenas comes back as the player he was circa 2005-2007. But, you hope the immature jokester that might flap his gums to anyone who is willing to listen doesn't come back and wonder what the whole process was for in the first place.

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