Recent events in the NBA have given its commissioner, David Stern, a lot to think about in the coming months and in 2010 in general. First their is the situation regarding Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, and, more importantly, the place guns have in the league in general. Next on the agenda is the upcoming All-Star game next month. Finally, there is the looming lockout in 2011 if he can't get the players and owners to agree on a new barganing agreement. Those three things may seem like daunting tasks, but I have some simple solutions for the commish. The first is to ban both Arenas and Crittendon from the NBA indefinitely for an idiotic prank. Next, he should create incentives for superstars such as Lebron and Kobe to participate in All-Star weekend festivities other than the game. Finally, with the possibly headed for a lockout of its own, Commissioner Stern should do everything in his power to make sure the owners do force a lockout of the 2011 season in the NBA.
Much has been said of the Arenas/Crittenton fiasco as of late, but one opinion that has been seldom voiced is that of a lifetime ban for each player. If you are not aware, both Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, guards for the NBA's Washington Wizards, were recently suspended for not only bringing guns to practice but drawing them out of their bags and pointing them at each other over a gambling dispute. I will contend that the punishment meted out to these two does not go far enough; they should be banned from the game for life. Basketball stars today, like it or not Charles Barkley, are role models for young kids; as such many kids imitate what they see their NBA heroes doing. This is more so than in the NFL, as every kid wants to "be like Mike." We cannot be sending a message to the current youth that bringing guns to practice or a game will be tolerated in any form. These kids today are too impresionable. They see Gilbert Arenas bring a gun to practice one day and the next they think it's okay for them to do it. Commissioner Stern, its time to send a message not only to your players but also to today's youth that the basketball court is no place for guns. And the most effective way you can do this is by imposing a lifetime ban on both Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for their actions earlier this season.
Commissioner Stern, you need a way to improve attendance at the slam dunk and three point competitions during all-star week, you say? I have a simple solution: create incentives for player participation to entice superstars such as Lebron James and Kobe Bryant to participate. There are a number of reason these players do not wish to participate in such events ranging from they need the rest to the potential that they could get hurt. But make it worth their while to participate, and everyone wins. The players win because of course they have a reason to participate. The fans win because they get to see their favorite players perform in these contests. And the NBA wins in turn because of an increase in not only fan attendance at these events but also television viewership as well.
Finally, you need to do everything you can to avoid the impending lockout in 2011, Commissioner Stern. There is a possibility that the NFL could have its own lockout that year as well, but even without one, a lockout is a headache you don't need. Especially since the league has gone into damage control with the Gilbert Arenas debacle. You need to do anything you can to bring more fans to the NBA; while averting a lockout does not guarantee this, it does guarantee that you will not lose the fans you already have.