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Over the years I have often had the pleasure of introducing my son to significant people as politically diverse as Barack Obama and Pat Buchanan. (Welcome to my world, kid.) He turned the tables on me one day in his early teens when he rushed across
Years later I am still grateful to the rising
The slide came when Arenas was indefinitely suspended and put under a criminal investigation for allegedly bringing as many as four handguns into his team's locker room. The pre-Christmas incident was part of what Arenas called a prank that grew out of a dispute over a gambling debt with teammate Javaris Crittenton, who according to various reports, responded by pulling out a gun of his own.
Sounds like the O.K. Corral? No, it's the
Arenas made matters worse for himself at a game last week (
That little high-profile antic appears to have been the last straw for NBA Commissioner David Stern, who already was under pressure from the Rev. Al Sharpton to show Arenas no mercy.
Yes, I know. A scolding from Sharpton for flamboyant recklessness is about as credible as a lecture on loyalty from Tiger Woods. Since his rise to fame in the 1980s as a promoter of Tawana Brawley's racially charged rape case that turned out to be a hoax, Sharpton has been known for rattling more social and political bridges than he's built.
But, as President Barack Obama dominates America's left, Sharpton has shifted to the right. He recently appeared, for example, on
I understand. There's no question that Arenas' recklessness deserves to be penalized. But, I also have to ask, penalized for what? The
Arenas' reputation resembles Michael Jordan's more than Michael Vick's. He's a prankster, not a gangster. Yet he appears to be catching more punishment from Stern than others have received for worse offenses.
In September, for example,
Other voices, like Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, question whether black athletes deserve to be singled out. White athletes like Jared Allen, a
Maybe we ask too much of athletes when we expect them to be models of good behavior, but at least they should try to avoid bad behavior.