On Tuesday morning, Mike Wise did what he does best: He wrote an article about a situation that the NBA is dealing with, one that a lot of us — myself included — are reeling from. He wrote with facts, he wrote with honesty, he wrote with the same feeling of dread and confusion that I have as I struggle to understand unnecessary strife and tragedy as I tap on the keys of my computer to type this.
While he eloquently explained exactly why this situation involving Javaris Crittenton is so tough to wrap our heads around, he spelled out the truth: this is a tragedy. A tragedy that police think the former Wizard has caused, enough to release an arrest warrant and a wanted poster and to take him into custody in Los Angeles last night as he was boarding a plane to return to Atlanta where his lawyer said he would surrender to police and try to clear his name. As Wise was explaining this, he also revealed something else.
A tiny detail from nearly two years ago serving as another reminder that people are not always who we think they are nor who they sometimes seem to be. While Javaris Crittenton is either behind bars or being transported to Atlanta to speak to police about a 22-year-old mother who is no longer with us, leaving behind four children who have suddenly been orphaned, Gilbert Arenas has been tweeting and deleting, jawing with a comedian, giving away free shoes and still managing to make people cringe because they’re wondering where that lovable joker with the sweet heart has gone.
Stop for a second. Look beyond the tweets and avatars. Look within Wise’s article. Here’s your detail:
Little-known fact uncovered in court documents in the spring of 2010: Crittenton, via text message, asked to borrow thousands from Arenas to help pay his ill mother’s escalating medical bills. Just two months after their confrontation, Arenas obliged.
While Arenas has been labeled as many things over the past few years, this fact unearthed by Wise shows once again that he still has that heart we’ve been wondering about, even if he doesn’t show it. Even if his actions would sometimes make you think otherwise.
I wish this was a happy post about people sometimes proving us wrong in the good way. In a way it is, I suppose. At least where Gilbert is concerned. There isn’t anything good about where Javaris sits right now. No one can understand, could have expected nor ever imagined a day where they would see Crittenton’s face appearing on a wanted poster. No one could have believed his family would be fearing for their son’s future while another family mourns the loss of their daughter, mother and friend.
I cannot sum this up any better than Wise did in the end of his column, I simply don’t have the words yet. Maybe they’ll come. Maybe not. Regardless of that, Wise’s piece echoes everything that my heavy heart holds but cannot say; he has managed to capture the layered emotions that create shades of grey out of a previously black-and-white headline. Please read his column, and focus especially on this ending:
An NBA first-round draft choice, Crittenton, less than two years ago, laid his head on the pillows of Four Seasons and Ritz Carltons. Today, he is in custody in a homicide case.
A mother of four is gone.
And the hoop dreams of a bright, young kid, who as a teen once lofted alley-oop passes to a gangly Dwight Howard for bedazzling dunks, is all but dead.
What a vicious cycle. From nothing to something. And back to nothing again. What a sinister omen those guns in the locker room may soon turn out to be.
The invisible role player in a superstar’s demise is now the unmistakable suspect in a 22-year-old woman’s murder.
For those of us fixated on only the famous falling from grace the past 20 months, who focused on Gilbert Arenas and forgot Javaris Crittenton, tragic doesn’t begin to cover it.
Nearly two years ago two men entered a locker room, with guns. We couldn’t be sure of their intentions then, we cannot be completely sure of those intentions now. Looking at those two men today, we need to remember that how someone looks or acts on the outside isn’t always indicative of how they’re dealing or coping on the inside.
I wish I had answers. I wish even more that the questions requiring them didn’t exist. I wasn’t there on August 19th. I wasn’t in Atlanta, I wasn’t on the street, nor in a black SUV, but I wish with all of my heart that however things unfolded, however tragedy stuck, I wish that it had been different. I suppose this is where the grown up reality hits once more and I realize that there are no wishes to be willed, but instead prayers and regret that will remain.