With NBA commissioner David Stern suspending Gilbert Arenas, the media has forgotten that this party got started thanks to Twitter. Gil's Arena, the great charity website that took Arenas from zero to hero can't mask the fact that the Wizards $111 million man is a Twitter addict and he buzzed up the guns and gambling himself and now it's Pete Rose x 2 in the NBA.
Twitter pioneers Ev Williams and Biz Stone have actively recruited NBA stars onto their microblogging platform. Shaq has 2.6 million followers, and Barron Davis over 800,000. yet NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, with only 15,000 Twitter followers, is probably popular enough to be elected president of the United States if he quit football and ran against Barack Obama in 2012 or maybe even George Clooney in 2016.
Twitter lists will hook you up with sites that have all the 411 on what NBA players have gang connections, though all deny membership.
But the big Tweet-up over Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton is just the tip of the iceberg. This pistol pandemic goes way beyond the NFL and NCAA with the major breakout hitting gang bangers and hip-hop promoters close to sports marketing whose products and services help promote violent class warfare on a global scale.
Brazilian authorities acknowledge that hip hop, guns and gang culture exported from the United States are a big part of the drug underworld that dominates the poor hillside favelas of Rio de Janeiro and the Sao Paulo megacity. Drug gangs shot down a police helicopter with a hand held device last October as it hovered over a Rio favela following the arrest of Brazil's most powerful- and politically influential- drug lord, Fernandino Beira-Mar ("Oceanside Freddy" to US agencies). The only thing missing on Freddy's rap sheet is a cameo on the PBS series "The Wire."
You don't hear about NBA stars like Yao Ming from China, Dikembe Mutombo from The Congo or Leandro Barbosa from Brazil carrying guns because in their home cultures it is a taboo for sports celebrities to do so. But in the US the pistol pandemic has gotten so out of hand that the Washington Wizards could probably sell more branded NBA merchandise if they change their name back to the Bullets.
Former NBA star Jayson Williams taking a plea deal on a murder rap. Playing for the Portland Trailblazers, Sebastian Telfair was removed from a charter flight after Transport Security Administration officials found a Smith & Wesson handgun in his pillowcase.
US National Security Council Director James Jones recently went public here on Huff Po with his concerns about the need to strengthen airport security. The fact that Telfair actually made it onto the flight with the gun, which he said was registered to his girlfriend, should ring some distant bells on Capitol Hill and raises the issue of whether security on charter aircraft is relaxed to accommodate the lifestyles of NBA and other pro athletes.
When Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams got on a plane, he flew it, doing tours of duty as a Marine Aviation fighter pilot during World War II and in Korea. Quaker Oats backed out of an endorsement deal with The Splendid Splinter when he elected to serve his country. Arenas has a major shoe deal with Adidas.
Box out the court, box out American justice... Bobby Knight's buddy Dave Bliss, a fixture at the sweet sixteen when coaching NCAA hoops at New Mexico, directed his players at Baylor to provide law enforcement with false information indicating that murdered star Patrick Dennehy had paid his tuition by dealing drugs. It was determined that Denehy was not a dealer and FBI and other investigators found that Baylor teammate Carlton Dotson murdered him with two shots to the head.
Bliss has since found some solace with a Christian athletic organization.
During the Cold War the sports world bad guys were the communists. "East Germany's" sports program, run by ex Nazi Manfred Ewald, a graduate of Hitler's famed NAPOLA (National Politisches Erziehungs-Anstalt) morphed into a Stalin Schueler ("East Germany's" version of a Fulbright) and after getting brainwashed in Moscow returned home to create athletes like swimmer Kornelia Ender, track star Heike Drechsler and figure skater Katrina Witt, among others. The blood doping and steroid chemistry pioneered on his watch helped establish the foundation for the multi-billion dollar global sports doping industry. But these folks carried around needles, not guns.
Football (soccer in the US), the dominant global sport, doesn't have a locker room gun problem. With the World Cup just months away the 1 Goal- Education for All global literacy campaign launched by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), reaches out to over 1 billion fans. The program is supported by presidents Lula of Brazil, Zapatero of Spain, Zuma of South Africa and British prime minister Brown. This international literacy campaign establishes football as the world's most socially responsible sport.
Gilbert Arenas, meanwhile, has retained the power law firm O'Melveny & Myers, who are hardwired into Rahm Emanuel at the White House, and CIA Director Leon Panetta ever since his days as a congressman from California. But well connected law firms and pro sports charity events can't hide the fact that the US model of bread and circus politics that banks on athletes as role models is breaking down and in no way guarantees the socialization of youth into the broader American society.
The Arenas case turning on Second Amendment rights is a political train wreck waiting to happen that could dominate and polarize US electoral politics. You've got the guys in the locker room who jokingly use the "N-word" and "Hymie" getting together with the neo-Nazis at the Reloader's Den in Boise who use both as hateful racial epithets, and the Jewish lobby for firearms ownership. Add the NRA to that mix and you've got a multicultural Molotov Cocktail.
For US president Barack Obama, who has done a few photo ops practicing his jumper, its a cue to get visibly involved. Guns and sports will certainly be a talking point when business and political leaders get together for the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month. If Obama stays on the sidelines the audacity of hope could turn into hope a dope real fast.