The NBA and law enforcement officials are investigating the circumstances in which Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas carried unloaded firearms into the team’s locker room, and whether he presented any guns during an argument with his teammate Javaris Crittenton.
Arenas, a three-time All-Star who turns 28 next week, admitted to carrying firearms last week before transferring them to team security. Yahoo Sports and the New York Post were the first to report that the focus of the inquiry involveda dispute between the teammates.
After practice at the Verizon Center on Friday, Arenas sharply disputed the New York Post’s version of events.
“I saw the story,” Arenas told the Washington Post. “Very compelling. Some real OK Corral stuff.”
Arenas acknowledged storing three firearms in his locker and said he had taken them to the arena because he did not want them in his home after the birth of his third child.
When asked if he had showed the weapons to anyone, Arenas said: “Yes, I showed them to someone. I showed them to team security when I handed them to them and said give them to the police. Yes, I took them out of this locker room. I had to take them out to get them out of here to give to security. You see they didn’t take the whole locker out of here.”
The District of Columbia police and the US attorney’s office opened a joint investigation into the incident.
Their inquiry centers on whether Arenas produced any of the guns in a dispute with Crittenton before a practice at the Verizon Center on Dec. 21 as reported by Yahoo Sports. The New York Post reported that both players had drawn weapons, which Arenas denies.
“I wake up this morning and seen I was the new John Wayne.” Arenas wrote on his Twitter account, adding, “Media is too funny.”
The District of Columbia has a zero-tolerance weapons possession law similar to that of New York City, and it is a violation of the NBA’s collective-bargaining agreement to carry weapons into an arena or facility owned by the league. Charges have not been filed against Arenas.
“There is an active investigation by DC law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely,” Tim Frank, the NBA’s vice president for basketball communications, said in a statement about the Wizards situation. “We are not taking any independent action at this time.”
The Wizards said they were cooperating with the authorities, and the NBA Players Association said it was monitoring the situation.
Arenas, once the author of a popular blog, originally vowed to not interact on Twitter until his account reached 1 million followers. Far short of that mark, his feed featured a flurry of activity in a 24-hour span that began on New Year’s Eve before news broke of the argument with Crittenton.
“i understand this is serious ... but if u ever met me you know i dont do serious things im a goof ball this story today dont sound goofy to me,” Arenas wrote.
The Wizards (10-20) have struggled despite expectations of a brighter season after winning just 19 games last season. Arenas has grappled with adapting to the system of the first-year coach Flip Saunders while trying to be both a facilitator and a scorer.
Arenas signed a six-year, US$111 million contract last year. Before this season he played in 15 games the last two years while battling injuries.
He said ahead of the season that he wanted to concentrate on his court performance.
He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor weapons and vehicle charges in 2003 after being charged with carrying a .40 caliber handgun and driving without a license during a traffic stop in California. Shortly after, Arenas left the Golden State Warriors and signed a six-year, US$64 million contract with the Wizards.
The NBA suspended Arenas for the first game of the 2004 season because of the charge. Arenas said he had registered the weapon in Arizona, but not in California.
The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Crittenton in 2007 after he spent a year at Georgia Tech. They traded him as part of the deal that landed Pau Gasol.
The Wizards acquired Crittenton last season in a three-team trade with Memphis and New Orleans.
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