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Monday, January 4, 2010
Gun Mania

By Henry Abbott

Like just about everybody else, I don't know what really happened between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton involving guns.

But I can tell you that I'm amazed at the reaction.

I read in Forbes that it could change the entire course of the NBA!

Could anyone be surprised by word that NBA players have guns?

If it's news to you that a lot of basketball players carry guns, you simply have not been paying attention. Scottie Pippen was busted with a loaded gun at the height of the Bulls' fame. In 1994, when he was arrested, the Bulls had won three titles and was about as famous as NBA teams ever get. Pippen had a licensed and loaded gun. In a follow-up talk with the team, coach Phil Jackson found several of them had guns.

There has been a steady stream of gun incidents involving basketball players pretty much forever.

Steve Stipanovich shot himself by accident. Stephen Jackson fired a gun into the air at a nightclub. There was a shooting at an NBA player's house.

Somebody should make a list of every time the police have found that basketball players have been around guns.

Just off the top of my head: Dionte Christmas was cut by the Sixers recently, borrowed a teammate's car, and was pulled over. The police found ... a gun. There have been similar stories for Chris Wilcox, Alan Henderson, Shawne Williams. Sebastian Telfair and so many others.

Darryl Dawkins swears that basketball players aren't fully dressed without a pistol tucked in their trousers, which seems unlikely, but it's not entirely out of step with claims from current players like Devin Harris that most of the league owns guns.

To me the point is, if you have hundreds of people carrying hundreds of guns, is some locked in a case, unloaded, in a locker room really stunning?

Why is that the event to touch off a profound examination?

I'm with the big crowd of sports fans who prefer their stars unarmed. But I can't for a moment understand why special rules would apply to them. It's a personal choice in this country. This isn't some National Basketball Association debate, in my eyes. This is a National Rifle Association debate.

Guns are dangerous. Should people be allowed to carry them around? I don't know how best to write those rules. But for the time being, people are allowed to have guns in this country, under certain terms, in certain times, in certain places. If your employer doesn't want your guns at work, then OK, you have to leave them at home or deal with a penalty.

But if they're following those laws and rules, I can't see why athletes should be subjected to special scrutiny. There may be something dangerous going on here, but it's going on everywhere there are guns, not just in sports. There's nothing new happening in the NBA, and there were no real victims in this incident. This seems an odd event to touch off some gun mania.