Gilbert Arenas is either a jerk, a thug, or just plain stupid.

But don't call him that to his face. He may pull a gun on you.

NBA commissioner David Stern indefinitely suspended Arenas, the Washington Wizards guard, after the player brought guns into the locker room and allegedly pointed one at a teammate in what he described as a joke.

Others said the action was the result of a bet that wasn't paid by the other player.

Whatever the reason, the act was totally out of line, and warranted severe punishment.

The topper may have come a couple nights later, when Arenas, during a game, finger-pointed in a gun-like fashion, at another player, thereby making a mockery of his original actions.

Some of these players just don't get it.

Published reports indicate the gun was unlicensed. If that's the case, the suspension is the least of Arenas' problems. He will probably face felony charges, much like New York Giants football player Plaxico Burress, who is now serving a two-year prison sentence after he accidentally shot himself in a New York nightclub with an unlicensed gun.

Arenas has a four-year contract for an obscene amount of $80 million. So, the suspension, which is expected to last the remainder of the season, will cost him about $10 million in salary, in addition to any fines the commissioner might impose.

Arenas is a popular player in the Washington area. He has been named to the NBA All-Star team several times and is a fan favorite.

But regardless of popularity, his punishment must be severe enough that it sends a message to the rest of the players in the league that such actions won't be tolerated.

One report indicates that as many as 80 percent of NBA players own firearms. Most keep them in their homes for protection. Carrying a weapon into an arena that seats 20,000 people is so totally out of line that it defies description.

The season-long suspension is justified. In fact, the actions may signal the end of Arenas' career if criminal charges are filed and if he is convicted.

The actions by the league may just make some other players think twice before they decide that packing a weapon is in their best interests.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com