NBA needs to return fire

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

Has Gilbert Arenas made an $80-million miscalculation and violated his NBA 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. 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 game-fixing 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. Some team is going to make the playoffs with 85 points ... 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 Blue Jays 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 ... 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? 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 ... 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 was the pick here.

One more thing

Sunday essay question: Which has more terrible teams, the NFL or the NBA? ... Happy birthday to Bobby Hull (71), Mike Walton (65), Rick MacLeish (60), Luis Sojo (44, and always looked older), 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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