PR in Sports

Looking at the World of Sports from a PR Perspecitve

Is Gilbert Arenas Paying too Much of a Price?

with 7 comments

David Stern is showing fans, media and players they will be safe in NBA arenas

I owe Mike Schaffer, who runs #SportsPRChat on Twitter, a big thanks. I began participating in the chats last week, and not only are the they a great forum to connect with other sports and PR professionals, but they’re also a great source of blog ideas! With that said, another great topic was brought up last week, whether or not the NBA, fans and media are making too big a deal of the Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas bringing a gun into the locker room.

For those living under a rock, Arenas pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge for bringing an unregistered gun into the Washington Wizards locker room. Since the initial charge, Arenas has been suspended indefinitely by the NBA, been dropped by Adidas and most likely will lose the remaining $80 million he’s still owed by the Wizards.

So, between a potential short jail stint, losing $147,208 every time the Wizards step on the court and getting killed in the media and court of public opinion, is Arenas paying too much of a price, especially considering the gun wasn’t loaded and it seemed to be more of a joke than anything else?

I say absolutely not! As someone that spent over four years working in an NBA locker room almost daily, I can attest that the phrase “the locker room is a sacred place” is accurate. What some don’t always realize is that in professional sports it’s not just the players and coaches on the inside. There’s media, team PR, marketing and community relations staff, equipment staff and trainers as well as ball boys who often times are high school kids or younger.

The Arenas situation has me wondering, maybe I’ve been in a locker room that had guns inside. It’s definitely a possibility, and I can tell you I would have been very uncomfortable had I known at the time. The ball boy thing makes this especially bad in my opinion though.

During the course of a game night it’s not uncommon for a player to have a ball boy go into his personal locker. Usually it’s something like getting money for a post-game food run. But regardless of the reason, it could have been a young ball boy that found the gun Arenas’ locker! Loaded or not, the possibility of bad outcomes are endless, and Arenas definitely broke a sacred trust.

From my personal and PR perspective, the NBA, media and sponsors are handling this situation just fine. That’s not to say Arenas doesn’t deserve a second chance, but David Stern bringing down the hammer shows media, team personnel and Arenas’ peers they will be safe in the locker room. It shows fans and sponsors the NBA is taking this issue extremely seriously.

So kudos to Stern, the Wizards and media who are holding Arenas accountable. Here’s to also hoping Arenas has learned a lesson and is able to resurrect his career.

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Written by Brian Gleason

January 17, 2010 at 11:52 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I agree….I think the price he is paying as well as the price paid by Burress and even in a different degree Tiger Woods is all about showing athletes that the day of them being above the law is over. I can say that my enthusiasm for professional sports has dwindled greatly in the past few years and my main reason is the poor attitudes of the athletes.


    January 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    • How do you even bring Tiger woods into this discussion? When did cheating on your wife become illegal?


      January 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm

      • I was referencing the amount of money that pro athletes lose by their indiscrections that lose the respect of the public. This is why a said “to a different degree”…however, since you asked, ”
        Under some statutes, both parties to an adulterous relationship are guilty of a crime if either of them is married to someone else. Other statutes provide that the act is criminal only if the woman is married.

        Under the law of many states, a single act of adultery constitutes a crime, whereas in others, there must be an ongoing and notorious relationship. The punishment set by statute may be greater for an individual who engages in repeated acts of adultery than for one who commits an isolated a


        January 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

      • Thanks for checking out the post James, much appreciated! I hope you’ll check out the blog again. Like Chappy said, I think he was just referring to a change in how the public treats the transgressions of celebrities/athletes in general. It’s an interesting side topic to this post.

        Brian Gleason

        January 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    • Hey Chappy,

      Good point. I think there has definitely been a shift in recent years in how forgiving the public is too athletes transgressions. They get hit pretty hard, although the we still forgive pretty quickly as soon as they pay the price, and of course start winning again.

      Brian Gleason

      January 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm

  2. My initial reaction was that there may have been some overreaction going on…particularly with the commissioner. But I hadn’t thought about it from this perspective, and you bring up some very valid points Brian.

    The more I think about it, the more I’m ok with coming down on Gil. He’s talented enough that once this stigma wears off he’ll land another spot, and hopefully begin cranking out anti-gun PSA’s.

    Here’s hoping those closest to him are helping him understand the full gravity of his situation.

    Matt LaCasse

    January 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    • Thanks Matt! The more I thought about this situation, the more I began to wonder how easily a ball boy or a team staffer could have come across a gun in a players locker. I’ve been asked many times to get something out of a players locker, and know I would have felt wierd/uncomfortable coming across a gun.

      Good point, this a situation where the last thing Arenas needs are “yes men” around him. He needs people that are going to make him aware that this is serious, and guide him through the process of learning from it, helping others and then reclaiming his career. We’re definitely a forgiving country when people take the right steps.

      Brian Gleason

      January 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm

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