This is Gilbert Arenas' 28th birthday, the day after he rang up 19 points and 14 assists for the Washington Wizards in a ridiculous 14-97 come-from-way-behind victory over the 76ers.
Asked by the Washington Post what he would get as a birthday present for his teammate, forward Antawn Jamison said ''A muzzle.''
That is effectively what the NBA has given him.
Commissioner David Stern, determining that Arenas ''is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game,'' has suspended him indefinitely, without pay, ''effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation'' by the league.
Arenas had to know this was coming. He just didn't know when. And with what force.
At the same time, the Wizards, as an organization, are in full agreement. In a statement signed by team president Ernie Grunfeld, Irene Pollin, principal owner, Washington Sports and Entertainment; Robert Pollin, chief executive officer, WSE, and James Pollin, president, WSE, said: "We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert's recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert's behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin's leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so.''
Who knows exactly what triggered Stern to finally step in to a situation in which Arenas has been said to have had four firearms in the Wizards' Verizon Center locker-room in mid-December. There have also been reports of a disagreement with teammate Javaris Crittenton and the existence of a gambling debt of some kind.
We know Al Sharpton asked for zero tolerance, but is it possible that the final tipping point was the outrageous way in which Arenas behaved before Tuesday night's game? After the lineups were introduced, Wizards teammates gathered around him in a circle and appeared to be chanting as he playfully finger-shot at them.
Even after the game, Arenas insisted reporters did not know ''the story'' and said ''At the end of the day, when all is said and done, all I want is a 'sorry,' (an) 'apologize.' I don't even . . . it can be small print, maybe one person do it, that's all I want. Because you guys have no idea. That's the problem. You guys are gonna do what you do; you guys don't know 'the story.'''
Not that he was sharing.
Well, here's the latest chapter in ''the story.''
Stern said in a statement that he had refrained from taking immediate action because of the criminal investigation involving the U.S. Attorney for the District Of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department, and the consideration of the matter by a D.C. grand jury. He had also asked the Wizards to refrain from taking any action, as they continue to be interviewed by law enforcement authorities.
But it was time.
Stern said in his statement: "Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct'' led to today's indefinite suspension.
Tuesday night, Arenas said "If I really did something wrong, it would bother me. I would feel remorse (for) what I did. I didn't do anything.''
But asked whom he feared more, the prosecutors or Stern, he said "I mean, Stern is mean.''
Stern's action today isn't ''mean.'' This situation was spinning out of control. This was clearly the right thing to do.