Update: Today, Gilbert Arenas was suspended indefinitely and without pay from the National Basketball Association. Keep in mind that this article was published before the suspension was announced.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about Gilbert Arenas, calling him the true pioneer of social media. Far before Shaq had 2.7 million followers (the population of Jamaica), Arenas was blogging for the NBA. Sure, social media wasn’t quite as “social” back then. Gilbert wasn’t directly interacting with fans, but he was providing us with an inside look into his life on and off the court. Arenas wrote his last post towards the end of 2008, after he’d sustained a couple of injuries. By then, he’d already established himself as the first professional athlete to really succeed with social media.
For more than a year, Arenas stayed away from social media. Shaq exploded onto the scene with his ‘Random Acts of Shaqness’ and ‘Yo Mama’ jokes. He’s been the unquestionable sweetheart of the sports and social media world. Then, in early December, Arenas created a Twitter account, and sent out the message that he wouldn’t tweet again until he got one million followers. I was thrilled to see Gilbert back in the space, and I thought that he’d get his million in no time.
However, two weeks later, he had only gained several thousand followers, and on December 24th, he tweeted twice. Then, on the 31st, he said, “i know i said i wouldnt text til i get a mil..but shit this is takin 4ever…Happy New Years…ps who do i hav 2 sleep with 2 get a mil.” Uhhh, text? It’s official: Gilbert has no idea what he’s doing.
In the last week, Arenas has tweeted over 180 times. He’s admitted he’s clueless as far as Twitter is concerned, but he continues to tweet. So what triggered this Twitter tornado? Well, on Christmas eve, the same day that Gilbert sent his second tweet ever, reports came out that Arenas’ alleged possession of a firearm may have resulted in a violation of league rules. A few days later, it was reported that Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton were involved in a standoff in the Wizards locker room. Apparently, after a gambling dispute on the team plane, Arenas brought in three guns and laid them in front of Crittenton’s locker. Arenas has since apologized, saying it was a practical joke gone bad, but he may be in some serious trouble. Washington D.C. has very strict gun laws, and authorities are contemplating taking Arenas before a grand jury.
At this point, it’s unclear if, how, and when Arenas will be punished. However, one thing is for sure: Arenas has been in a bit of a free fall since his blogging days. He’s had injury problems, he’s been out of the spotlight, and it has been difficult for him to get back into it (at least in a positive light). He clearly needs help with his brand (call me!) and regaining his social media prowess (right now it looks like he’s using Twitter to vent), and probably will need some legal assistance in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see how things play out with Gilbert. Despite his recent troubles, I am rooting for him.