Blog Entry

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

Posted on: January 1, 2010 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2010 11:13 pm
 

UPDATED THROUGHOUT

The NBA and its players' union will investigate whether a firearms possession probe of Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas stemmed from a dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton, two sources told CBSSports.com Friday.

Once a criminal probe is completed, an investigation by league security will expand after the New York Post and Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that Arenas' possession of firearms in the Verizon Center locker room in the days before Christmas Eve was related to an argument with Crittenton, a high-level source with knowledge of the probe said. The Post reported that the players pulled guns on each other during the argument on a practice day, while Yahoo! reported that the focus of the probe was whether Arenas had accessed his firearms during the argument. 

Details of the confrontation varied widely in subsequent reports Friday. NBA.com reported that the dispute between the players stemmed from a $25,000 debt that Arenas owed Crittenton. The Washington Post, however, quoted someone who has spoken recently with Arenas about the incident who characterized it as "horseplay." The confrontation was over "who had the bigger gun," that person said. Both outlets reported that the disagreement began on the team flight from Phoenix on Dec. 19 and spilled over to a practice day at Verizon Center on Dec. 21.

Arenas denied pulling a gun on anybody, telling Washington Post reporter Michael Lee after practice Friday that he was thinking about suing the New York Post. But when asked by a TV reporter if he had a confrontation with Crittenton, Arenas said, "I don't know." In conversations with various reporters -- and on his Twitter page, which roared to life Friday after weeks of inactivity -- Arenas essentially mocked the controversy. He called the gun-play story "very compelling" and "intriguing," referring to it as "O.K. Corral stuff" and promising that the real story would come out soon. "That's not the real story," he said.

Arenas' father, Gilbert Arenas Sr., told Lee the report was "ludicrous. Gil didn't pull a gun on anybody."

But regardless of the precise details, the only thing that must have seemed ludicrous to Wizards officials was Arenas' nonchalant and borderline irresponsible reaction. Brandishing firearms, even as a joke, could carry serious penalties in the District Columbia, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.

Aside from the criminal ramifications or who's at fault, Arenas has plunged his struggling team into a maelstrom from which it will have difficulty recovering. The Wizards, one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA, are 10-20 with an already fragile locker room that is in no condition to absorb this kind of scrutiny. In fact, one player who spoke to the Washington Post Friday was unnerved by the mere presence of firearms in the locker room, which he said is supposed to be "sacred." David Aldridge, writing for NBA.com, raised the possibility -- albeit remote -- that the incident could give the Wizards cause to attempt to void the rest of the $111 million, six-year contract that Arenas signed in July 2008. The deal has three years and $68 million left after this season. 
 
NBA authorities became aware of the matter in the days before CBSSports.com first reported on Dec. 24 that Arenas was under investigation for possessing firearms in the locker room. The probe initially focused on Arenas as the only team member to have possessed guns on team property, a clear violation of NBA rules.

Wizards officials scheduled a meeting with Washington, D.C., authorities for Dec. 23 to come clean about the matter, given the District's stringent gun-control laws. The meeting couldn't be arranged that day, so the team rescheduled for Dec. 24, several hours before CBSSports.com's story was published online, one of the sources said.

After that report, the Wizards issued a statement saying that Arenas had stored unloaded firearms in a locked container in his locker at Verizon Center, and that the team was cooperating with NBA and legal authorities. Arenas told the Washington Times that he'd brought the guns to the locker room after deciding he no longer wanted them in his home after the birth of his daughter on Dec. 10. He told reporters this week that he'd removed them from his locker only to have them turned over to authorities because he didn't want them anymore.

Washington, D.C., police issued a statement Wednesday saying they were investigating the presence of firearms at Verizon Center, without providing further details. Arenas said this week that authorities inquiring about the matter were mainly interested in whether he had obtained the guns legally. Arenas, 27, has a history of flirting with firearms laws; he was suspended for the 2004-05 season opener after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to maintain proper registration of a firearm in California while with the Warriors in 2003.

Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., told the New York Post that his office was working with D.C. police on the investigation. A call to the public information office of the Metropolitan Police Department was not returned Friday. But a D.C. police official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity that reports of firearms being brandished in a dispute were news to the authorities and were being added to the criminal investigation. 

Commissioner David Stern, who has not commented publicly on the Arenas investigation, has a history of waiting for the legal process to run its course before issuing penalties -- for fear of compromising investigations by law enforcement. NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Friday that the league is not planning take any disciplinary action until the criminal investigation is completed.

"There is an active investigation by D.C. law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely," Frank said in an emailed statement. "We are not taking any independent action at this time."

A full-fledged probe and penalties from the league office would have to wait until the criminal investigation is closed, since players would be unlikely to speak with league attorneys for fear that those records would be subpoenaed by law enforcement.

In addition to the NBA investigation, which could result in fines and/or suspensions, the NBA Players Association expects to initiate its own probe to ensure that "the facts are investigated and weighed," a second person with knowledge of the situation said Friday. Once it is determined that interviews with the players involved are necessary, the matter would be turned over to NBPA general counsel Gary Hall, a retired federal prosecutor, and director of security Robert Gadson, a retired New York City police detective, the source said.

Billy Hunter, the NBPA's executive director, said he was aware of the reports and was in the process of gathering facts. Wizards spokesman Scott Hall issued a statement reiterating that the team is cooperating with law enforcement and the NBA and will have no further comment.

Wallace Prather, listed in the NBPA directory as Crittenton's agent, said Friday he resigned from representing the player on Dec. 10 and had no knowledge of the allegations against his former client. Crittenton's current agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to comment. Arenas, who signed a six-year, $111 million contract with the Wizards in July 2008, has no agent listed in the NBPA directory.

NBA rules collectively bargained with the players forbid the possession of firearms on league property or in the course of league business. In 2006, Sebastian Telfair was fined an undisclosed amount after a loaded handgun registered to his girlfriend was found on the team plane at Logan Airport in Boston when Telfair played for the Trail Blazers. Cavaliers guard Delonte West has been indicted on multiple weapons counts in Maryland for riding on his motorcycle Sept. 17 with two loaded handguns, a shotgun, 112 shotgun shells, and an 8.5-inch knife.

If guns are found to have been wielded during a dispute between Arenas and Crittenton, it would be reminiscent of an incident in 2002 during which Warriors player Chris Mills allegedly pulled a gun on the Trail Blazers' team bus after an argument with Bonzi Wells. That incident led to the adoption of the league's zero-tolerance policy regarding guns on team property.

However this turns out, it's time to start wondering when the Wizards' will adopt a zero-tolerance policy for Agent Zero.

Comments

Since: Dec 5, 2009
Posted on: January 2, 2010 2:27 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

I seriously doubt there will be a lifetime ban for either player if the investigation concludes that firearms were brandished in the sacred locker room. If I were one of their teammates, I'd be very concerned about it. I certainly don't want to be around aggressive athletes with guns. As a fan, I would be worried about it too.

If this is all true, what kind of example does this set for young people? Will this escalate violence on and off the court if it's not deterred?

Arenas and Crittenton should be suspended if they indeed engage in gun horseplay, especially on team grounds.

Arenas' contract could be voided, but he will probably be fined. I think the emphasis should be put on the financial ramifications and community service. And I don't just mean public service announcements. They should pick up trash while wearing shirts that say "Guns in Locker Rooms Are Not OK".





Since: Dec 23, 2009
Posted on: January 2, 2010 10:34 am
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

exactly



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 2, 2010 2:20 am
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

stfu



Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2010 7:58 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

The Wizards should terminate Gilberts contract right now.



Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2010 7:40 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

I'm sure the NBA will look into this and try to downplay it like nothing ever happened.  Just like Tim Donaghy debacle, the NBA will be in denial, "no way our players would ever do anything wrong, sorry it was blown out of porportion, just a rogue report.  Nothing to see here, move it along now..."

thuglife IS basketball nowadays.



Since: Sep 21, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2010 7:31 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

If the story is indeed true, the Wizards should immediately release. I don't like the idea of a lifetime ban dictated by the NBA brass. Although a bit utopian, I would hope the incident would prompt all of the remaining NBA teams to simply pass on employing either of them. But, this is the "real world." I seriously doubt that's going to happen.



Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2010 3:56 pm
 

Lucky for the Wiz

After that knuckle-head move to sign an injured player to a $110 million contract, they get a chance to get out of it now.



Since: Apr 30, 2009
Posted on: January 1, 2010 3:15 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

Both players should receive a lifetime ban from the NBA and punished under all appropriate laws.  Hopefully the lifetime bans will force the rest of players to wake up and smell the coffee.



Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: January 1, 2010 2:46 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

when the same joke is said over and over, it gets to a point where it's not funny any longer.....your timing was well into that "not funny" zone.



Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: January 1, 2010 2:08 pm
 

Hold your fire!

All this gun-play makes it pretty obvious that Arenas and Crittenton are under the impression that they're playing for the Washington Bullets rather than the Washington Wizards. I assume these two were against the name change.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com