Gun-Toting Wizards Suspended for Remainder of Season

Arenas meets with Stern

By Matthew Stabley
|  Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010  |  Updated 4:35 PM CDT
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Are the Suspensions of Arenas and Crittenton Fair?

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NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Washington Wizards guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for the remainder of the season for bringing guns to the arena.

Guns in the workplace "will not be tolerated," Stern said.

Someone familiar with Wednesday's meeting between Stern and Arenas told the Washington Post's Wizards Insider that Arenas requested he be suspended only for the remainder of this season in exchange for telling the players' union not to contest the suspension.

Stern reportedly was considering an 82-game suspension -- nine more regular season games than Ron Artest got in 2004 for going into the stands to scuffle with fans in Detroit. For Arenas, this will be a 50-game suspension, instead, including time served. It's a 38-game suspension for Crittenton, who hasn't played this season because of a foot injury.

Arenas is losing about $147,200 per game. Crittenton only about $13,435 per game.

"Both players violated D.C. laws and NBA rules by bringing guns into the locker room," read a statement the Wizards organization released Wednesday. "Their poor judgment has also violated the trust of our fans and stands in contrast to everything Abe Pollin stood for throughout his life. It is widely known that Mr. Pollin took the extraordinary step of changing the team name from 'Bullets' to 'Wizards' in 1997 precisely to express his abhorrence of gun violence in our community."

Arenas pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to a felony gun charge after an alleged confrontation with Crittenton in the Wizards' locker room at Verizon Center.

Arenas and Crittenton argued about gambling losses during a card game on the Wizards' plane as the team returned from a West Coast road trip on Dec. 19. According to court documents, Arenas threatened to shoot Crittenton in the face, and Crittenton said he'd shoot Arenas in his bad knee. Their dispute became heated when the team reconvened for practice two days later, when Arenas took the guns from his locker and Crittenton produced his gun as well.

Crittenton took an unloaded gun to the arena because he feared for his life, according to his attorney, Peter H. White.

On Tuesday, Stern met with Crittenton, who was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation after pleading guilty Monday to a misdemeanor gun charge.

Stern said both players expressed remorse, but added, "nevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct."

"The issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one's home or elsewhere," Stern said in a statement. "It is about possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated."

Arenas, who is in the second season of a six-year, $111 million contract, is scheduled to be sentenced March 26. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors recommended a sentence in the low end of guidelines. The felony charge of carrying a pistol without a license carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A TMZ report says Arenas was formally booked on Tuesday.

Arenas has said he stored four unloaded guns in his locker to keep them away from his children. He also said he didn't know he was violating D.C.'s gun laws. He defended his actions on Dec. 21 by calling it a bad attempt at a joke and referring to himself as a goofball who doesn't take anything seriously.

Stern was particularly upset that Arenas repeatedly joked about the matter with reporters, on Twitter and on the court before a game in Philadelphia. The day after that game, before which Arenas made pistols out of his hands and mimicked shooting his teammates, the commissioner suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay.

The Wizards likely will to try to void Arenas's contract. Possession of a gun at an NBA arena violates the league's collective bargaining agreement, and the Wizards could try to invoke the morals clause found in standard NBA contracts. The players' union likely would contest such a move.
 

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