TrueHoop: Arn Tellem

Friday Bullets

February, 12, 2010
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz

Arn Tellem on NBA gun control

January, 13, 2010
Abbott By Henry Abbott
Arn Tellem, a powerful NBA agent, remembers a time when he was robbed at gunpoint in Washington D.C. A string of such incidents in the summer of 1974 led to the very kinds of District gun laws that Gilbert Arenas violated.

Tellem is, by nature and profession, an advocate of players' rights. But he's calling for new NBA rules limiting players' right to bear arms. (It's worth noting that he's also saying the Wizards should honor Arenas' contract.)

Tellem writes on Huffington Post:

So what is the appropriate penalty? Three years ago Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers was suspended for seven games after he pleaded guilty to criminal recklessness, having discharged a firearm outside a nightclub. A year later Sebastian Telfair, then of the Boston Celtics, got a three-game suspension after copping a plea to criminal possession of a weapon -- after pulling him over for speeding, New York police searched his Range Rover and found a loaded handgun under the passenger seat.

In Arenas' case, lifelong banishment is too draconian. If he were playing up to his former All Star standards, no one would be calling for the termination of his contract. Arenas' behavior should not serve as cover for the Wizards to void a deal that they now regret. His punishment should be firm and severe, but not excessive, and certainly not open-ended. Currently, the NBA's ban on guns imposes no specific penalties, and past sanctions have proven to be inadequate deterrents. Last week Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets claimed that 75 percent of NBA players, approximately 270 total, own guns. If accurate, that figure -- or even half of it -- is truly horrifying.

The NBA has a zero-tolerance policy on firearms. The league's Collective Bargaining Agreement -- implemented in 2005 -- forbids guns at any NBA venue or event. If I were writing policy, I'd go even farther: Players could own guns for hunting or to defend their homes, but they would not be allowed to pack heat. Violators would draw substantial penalties. I realize that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution, but in professional athletics, rights are sometimes limited in deference to a sport's well-being. This issue should be resolved now, while it's still Topic A. Why wait until the CBA expires in 2011? In this era of "teachable moments", there may never be a better time for the league and its players to demonstrate that toting guns is dangerous and reckless and has no place in our society.