Gilbert Arenas does not like to be told when to shut up. Perhaps that’s one reason why he has decided to not hire a sports agent (in case you did not know, Gilbert signed and negotiated his own contract with the Wizards). But agents are known to taken on more roles than only negotiating contracts on behalf of their players. One area that agents may aid their clients is in media/public relations. Arenas could have used someone like that in his corner this past week.
Yesterday, Arenas was suspended indefinitely from playing in the NBA. David Stern used the old “not currently fit to take the court” justification. Article 35(d) of the NBA constitution lays out Stern’s powers in this circumstance (emphasis added):
(d) The Commissioner shall have the power to suspend for a definite or indefinite period, or to impose a fine not exceeding $50,000, or inflict both such suspension and fine upon any Player who, in his opinion, (i) shall have made or caused to be made any statement having, or that was designed to have, an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball or of the Association or of a Member, or (ii) shall have been guilty of conduct that does not conform to standards of morality or fair play, that does not comply at all times with all federal, state, and local laws, or that is prejudicial or detrimental to the Association.
Seems pretty broad, right? It was meant to be that way. Maybe Arenas will file a grievance. Under Article XXXI of the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, an arbitrary and capricious standard of review would be used as long as the Grievance Arbitrator finds that there is just cause for the penalty imposed. That’s a tough standard to meet.
But why did it have to get this far in the first place? Could an agent have possibly prevented this public relations nightmare? Jason Wolf says yes, but that it would not help much in dealing with the law. We can’t keep our clients out of prison after they have committed a wrongful act, but we might be able to save them from making the situation they find themselves in even worse. We can at least try to stray them away from using Twitter for the wrong purposes.