Mike Wise's latest column for the Washington Post on Javaris Crittenton's murder charge is haunting for so many reasons, but few lines are as striking as the quote he got from Gilbert Arenas one year ago on Crittenton.
"You know, like some people turn over a new leaf when something bad like that changes their life. I heard Javaris went the other way - he became more 'hood, more hardened in that way. I don't know if that's the case, but that's what I heard."
Wise uses that quote as a means to argue that the allegations that Crittenton shot a 22-year old mother of four last month paint the 2009 gunplay incident between Arenas and Crittenton in the Wizards' locker room in a new light. I had been resisting making that connection, but it's hard to resist too much more.
Most importantly, Wise reminds us that Crittenton's gun was loaded at the time.
But two eyewitnesses that day in the locker room said Crittenton was contemplating pulling the trigger in response to Arenas laying out four unloaded guns on a towel with a note that read, "PICK 1" - in essence, cryptically daring the reserve guard to carry out his threat. Crittenton, the people in the room that day said, chambered a round in his own revolver. He had live ammunition, they believed, and might not be bluffing.
You could go two ways with these revelations. One is to absolve Arenas a bit and place more of the blame on Crittenton. Indeed, as Wise notes, Arenas paid for Crittenton's mother's medical bills two months after the incident.
Really, though, I think you have to go the other way with this. If anything, this proven Arenas may have messed with the wrong guy on that fateful day in December of 2009. Arenas' punishment was a long suspension, a loss of income and a declining reputation, but it could have been a whole lot worse.