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Sports and Justice: What’s With the Criminal Epidemic in the NBA?

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April 24th, 2012

One might think they have it made if they have a career where they make anywhere from $400,000 to $20 million or more a year, work about three hours a day, get to travel, are adored by fans, and you can have more or less anything (and any woman) they want. Nothing in the world could make them jeopardize that career. In want of nothing and in need of nothing, someone in that position might think to give back, or add to the base of human knowledge by getting an online Ph.D or talking to kids about how to achieve their dreams. A life on the straight and narrow.

Right?

Wrong.

For many NBA players both active and no longer active, staying out of trouble is a huge problem. They have been accused of committing crimes from drug possession to theft to assault to murder, and they have been giving NBA President David Stern a headache, especially in the past decade. NBA crime has run rampant.

The Portland Trailblazers, who made an NBA record 21 straight appearances in the play-offs up to 2003, became known in the past decade as the “Jail Blazers,” because of players’ trouble with the law. According to electro-mech.com, Cliff “Uncle Spliffy” Robinson assaulted a police officer who was giving him a ticket, sending her to the hospital. Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Isaiah Rider, Darius Miles, and Qyntel Deon Woods were all arrested at one time or another for marijuana possession. Ruben Patterson was convicted of rape, at another time was charged with assault, and received two felony domestic abuse charges.

Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber (C-Webb) was pulled over for wild driving on the freeway, assaulted the officers and refused to take any test for intoxication. They found marijuana in his car, and he was convicted of driving under the influence. Accused of perjury in 2003, he was convicted under a lesser charge of criminal contempt for lying to a grand jury; he had to pay $100,000 and do 300 hours of community service.

Javaris Crittenton averaged 5.3 points and 1.8 assists during his NBA career, which ended in 2009.

In 2011, according to The Huffington Post, he was wanted on a murder charge; a mother of four had been gunned down in Atlanta. Police didn’t believe the mother was the intended target of the drive-by, but thought Crittenton’s motive had been retaliation for an earlier robbery in which he was a victim. He had received probation in 2010 on a gun charge; he denied that he was the gunman in the murder, and is awaiting trial.

Bleacher Report says that Stephen Jackson, recently acquired by the San Antonio Spurs, was suspended for 30 days, was sentenced to a year’s probation and 60 hours of community service for his role in the 2004 Pacers/Pistons brawl. Off the court, in 2006, he was charged with two felony counts of criminal recklessness, and two misdemeanors because of an incident at a strip club where he reportedly  fired a gun in the air five times and kicked a man. With a plea, the felonies were reduced to misdemeanors; he was fined $5000, given 100 hours of community service, and suspended from the NBA for seven days.

There are many other players who have run afoul of the law. Very few have done any significant time for their behavior. Being a bad boy, when your career is pro basketball, may not be the baddest thing.

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