NBA must suspend gunslinger

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

Has Gilbert Arenas made an $80-million miscalculation and violated his National Basketball Association contract by allegedly pointing a gun at teammate Javaris Crittenton at the training facility of the Washington Wizards?

That is just one of the many issues NBA commissioner David Stern must confront in light of the investigation that began with reports that Arenas not only pulled a pistol on his teammate over a gambling argument, but actually stores guns at the Wizards training facility.

Stern must act quickly, strongly, and in a Roger Goodell kind of overreaction way: He must suspend Arenas immediately pending the police investigation. He must send a message that in the hip-hop culture the NBA envelopes, guns can't ever be welcome, not in locker rooms, not in arenas, not anywhere, not ever.

This shouldn't matter whether police lay charges are not. This isn't just a legal matter. This is a huge public relations disaster for a league that has already lived through enough controversy of its own, the most recent being the Tim Donaghy fixed game allegations. It is a privilege to be a professional athlete; a privilege to be paid millions of dollars to entertain the public. If the story is proven true, then Arenas should be finished as a pro basketball player. An example needs to be made of him. It is a new year and a new decade: Time for the NBA to show some balls.

This and that

My biggest concern on Steve Yzerman's Team Canada: The apparent dependence on veterans Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger on defence. This is Pronger's fourth Olympics. This should be Niedermayer's fourth. Neither play at all-star levels anymore. Maybe they have one great tournament left in them. Maybe not ... Another area of concern: Yzerman has added the entire San Jose line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. Thornton has 10 NHL seasons with more than a point a game in the regular season, not one in the playoffs. Big games have never been his thing ... What a wasted season this is becoming for the Maple Leafs: The Eastern Conference has never been weaker. Somebody is going to make the playoffs with 85 points ... Saw the Tiger Woods '10 being sold at video stores over the holidays and couldn't help but wonder if the '10 indicated the year or the number of women for Woods ... Nobody asked but, if I'm making the pick, speedskater Clara Hughes carries the Canadian flag in the opening ceremony in Vancouver. Nobody embodies the Olympic spirit more than she does.

Hear and there

Congrats to boy GM Alex Anthopoulos, whose first big signing of the new year will be his name on a marriage certificate. And even better if one of the invited guests happens to be the hot Cuban free agent pitcher, Aroldis Chapman ... Anthopoulos will be evaluated on the Roy Halladay trade, especially the extra deal that sent Michael Taylor to Oakland in exchange for Brett Wallace. "Taylor has a chance to be a superstar," said an excited Oakland assistant GM David Forst ... In three Winter Olympics with NHL players, three different countries have won gold: Sweden, Canada, and Czech Republic. Which means, the Russians with Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeny Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk, should be favourites this time. Except the myopic Russians, incapable of leaving politics out of the equation, added KHL players ahead of NHL players, which may end up costing them in the end ... The St. Louis Blues had no choice but to fire the technocrat coach, Andy Murray. They have all kinds of talented kids on their roster like David Backes, Erik Johnson, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and soon, Alex Pietrangelo, and Murray was smothering them with details ... At first, I wasn't sold on these NHL outdoor games. Thought it was a fad that would go away quickly. But the Fenway Park game made for magical television and to quote a Boston Globe headline of yesterday, it was a "Grand Slam On Ice."

Scene and heard

What decade is this anyway? The free-agent baseball class this winter includes Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Troy Percival, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Nomar Garciaparra, Vladimir Guerrero, Carlos Delgado, Miguel Tejada and Jim Thome -- a veritable all-star team of years gone by ... Can't understand why Brian Burke left Andy Greene off his U.S. Olympic team roster. Greene plays 24 minutes a night with New Jersey, only the best defensive team in the NHL, and leads all American defencemen in scoring ... Burke would have loved to find an Olympic role for the ancient Mike Modano, but he didn't want to waste a roster spot on a player who is cooked ... Under the department of maybe the outdoor game caused brain lock: The Boston Bruins have signed Miro (The Zero) Satan ... Department of cool: Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke on the ice at the Winter Classic ... Also cool: How Tim Thomas, the biggest kid on the ice, interacted with the real kids dressed up as U.S. Olympians ... Someone has to say this: Tennis player Aleksandra Wozniak was the wrong choice for Canada's female athlete of the year. Dominant speedskater Christine Nesbitt, the only female finalist for the Lou Marsh Trophy, was the pick here.

And another thing

Eric Tillman's trial on sexual assault charges is set to begin tomorrow in Regina. Should Tillman be found not guilty, don't be the least bit surprised if he ends up leaving the Saskatchewan Roughriders to become general manager of the Toronto Argonauts ... Can't begin to take the Raptors seriously until they show they can compete with teams above them in the NBA standings. Heading into last night's game against Boston and today's game against San Antonio, the Raps are a sorry 2-12 against teams ahead of them in the standings and one of those wins came on opening night at home. More importantly, none of those wins have come on the road ... Sunday essay question: Which has more terrible teams, the NFL or the NBA? ... Is Bill Polian destined to become the Bobby Cox of football? All those great seasons, all those great teams and just one championship ring apiece. Polian should have won at least one Super Bowl with the Buffalo Bills and probably one more with the Indianapolis Colts team he is currently babying into the playoffs ... Happy birthday to Bobby Hull (71), Mike Walton (65), Rick MacLeish (60), Luis Sojo (44, and always looked older), Vincenzo Esposito (41), Drake Berehowsky (39), Eli Manning (29), David Tyree (30) and good ol' Jim Ross (58) ... And hey, whatever became of Brian Finley?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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