How gutless are Gilbert Arenas and the online gatekeepers of NBA.com, where the Washington Wizards’ $111-million-guard is the featured NBA blogger? Arenas’ schoolyard taunt at Richard Jefferson and Milwaukee is nowhere to be found on his Agent Zero: the blogfile.
Arenas has made a little noise lately about retiring his blog, blaming “technical difficulties” with the media in America, but a globetrotting trip to China, Europe and beyond prompted a lengthy July 13 entry about his travels. Along the way he added some thoughts on summer NBA player transactions and had this to say about the trade that brought Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee:
“HAHAHA. Oh, man, now that is funny. When I heard that, I started laughing. Oh man, did I start laughing. You know why? Because every player hates Milwaukee. Nobody wants to live in Milwaukee. I’m sorry, Milwaukee, to come down hard on you, but no one in the NBA wants to play in Milwaukee. From him going from New Jersey (actually New York, because he lives in New York), from New York to Milwaukee is like going … let’s just say it’s not going to sit well with you. That was a funny one when I heard that one. I know Yi is happy though.”
Hit delete – that paragraph is now gone from Arenas’ blog, no doubt disappeared into the nether of some NBA.com flak’s hard drive.
But not before Bucks fans reacted with all sorts of discussion about diversity, quality of life, segregation, economic opportunity, crime rates, the state’s horrible black incarceration rates, Milwaukee’s black brain drain (Atlanta came up), jobs, things to do, night life, Julius Erving’s refusal to play in Milwaukee after being drafted by the Bucks in the 1970’s — yes, Bucks fans delved into it all for couple of days on Realgm.com (I admit responsibility for some of it). And trashtalked Arenas, of course, while also noting that the Bucks organization hasn’t been all that attractive to players in the last five or six years. Bucks fans had a lot to say about Milwaukee, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.
Mostly lost in the wide-ranging discussion was that the target of Agent Zero’s dis’ wasn’t Milwaukee so much as it was Jefferson, his former U. of Arizona Wildcats teammate and an increasingly unfriendly rival. (Badger fans will remember those two in passing from the 2000 NCAA West Regionals, as Wisconsin went on its way to a fourth date with the Flintstones in the Final Four.)
Last summer Jefferson and Arenas sparred in the media over a $3.5 million donation Jefferson made to build a new gym at AU. Then it got a little ugly, again on Arenas’ nba.com blog. If Arenas was joking in any of this, nobody’s getting it. And now Agent Zero is pretending his latest never happened, save for the reader comments responding to smacktalk that is no longer there.
Arenas and NBA.com ought to put Arenas’ statements back up. He thought them; he wrote them; NBA.com has (or had) given him the license to post them. Arenas and the publishers of the website — the league — should either let the statements stand and if they feel damage control is in order, reframe, respin, whatever the urge is, in a new post. It’s disrespectful to readers of his blog to simply “disappear” it all.
Yes, the NBA is a business, and, yes, it is entirely possible that the Bucks, part of NBA.com, demanded the removal of the Arenas’ comments. But the NBA and Agent Zero are in the business of developing online editorial content for fans. The honest and ethical thing to do is to stand by the content and serve the readers and NBA fans, not the interest of the business or Arenas’ image, foot-in-the-mouth though it’s been since beginning his blog two years ago.
The cat’s long out of the bag and prowling all over cyperspace, linked at Dimemag.com, Ballhype.com, JSOnline.com, hundreds of sites in between, and now the mighty Bob Boozer Jinx. Axing the comments and pretending Agent Zero never wrote them doesn’t serve Arenas or the NBA — it just makes both look bad and wastes many an NBA fan’s time.
“Technical difficulties with our media,” Gilbert? A Dikembe Mutombo finger to that. It’s hit it or quit it time.