The Gilbert Arenas Gun Incident

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The Gilbert Arenas gun incident was one of the most controversial sports incidents in the NBA in the 21st century.

Gilbert Arenas is a former NBA professional basketball player who played for the Washington Wizards. In his hey days in the 2000’s Arenas was a top notch player who bagged various awards. These include: being a three time NBA all-star and NBA’s most improved player in the 2002-2003 season.

However, a bizarre gun altercation with a teammate, Javaris Crittenton earned both of them suspensions for the remainder of the 2009-2010 season.

The gun standoff had wide reaching ramifications for the professional careers of the two players and the Washington Wizards basketball team as well.

What transpired in the Incident?

In December 2009 during a team flight from Phoenix to Washington Javaris Crittenton, a guard for the Washington Wizards, was involved in a heated argument with Gilbert Arenas over a $1,100 pot in a “Booray” card game. It was reported that they had personal differences even prior to the incident. Their argument continued into the airport shuttle bus after they landed. It was at that point that they threatened each other with gunfire.

Caron Butler describes the incident in his 2015 memoir, ‘Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA.’ Not even the efforts of the team president Ernie Grunfield could cool the two down. Two days later during a routine practice session at the Verizon Center, Arenas sneaked in four guns into the locker room. When Crittenton got into the room, Arenas, using expletives taunted him to pick one of the guns and make true his earlier threats of shooting Arenas.

Crittenton, on the other hand responded by pulling out his own firearm, cocked it and pointed it towards Arenas. Other players in the locker room were stunned by the actions of the two and the impending shoot out. They all scampered out for safety. However, in his memoirs, Caron Butler indicates that he remained behind to deescalate the situation. He calmed them down telling them of the consequences if either of them pulled the trigger. In the end of it all, no shots were fired as they backed down upon the intervention and lowered their weapons.

Disciplinary Action

Following a thorough investigation of the events leading to the gun incident by the NBA and the police department, NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended both Arenas and Crittenton without pay for the remainder of the season.

Stern said that the players had grossly violated a rule outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between the Players Association and the NBA that bars players from bringing a weapon to an NBA facility. Arenas also pleaded guilty to felony weapons possession charge in a DC superior court and was sentenced to 30 days in a halfway house. Crittenton pleaded guilty to misdemeanor gun possession charges and was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation.

Effect on the Players’ Careers

The dispute over the petty pot ended up costing Arenas $7.5 million in lost income. Laden with injury, he never recovered fully after the gun incident. He was traded to the Orlando Magic in December 2010 immediately after the suspension period elapsed. Later in March 2012, he was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies. His performance was after the gun standoff was totally lackluster.

He left the NBA for good in November 2012 to sign with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Since the Wizards could not void Arenas’ $111 million six-year contract unless he was given a prison sentence, he therefore continued to live comfortably though he never lived up to the contracts worth. Crittenton who was just 21 at the time of the incident, was not so lucky. He did not play again ever in the NBA after the incident.

To add on to his misfortunes, he was in 2011 indicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. This was after a gang-land shooting he was involved in went bad leading to the death of a mother of four. The Wizard’s season was ultimately derailed by the incident.

With Arenas’ suspension, a new coach coming in and the team’s reputation and image destroyed, the franchise would not be the same again. They performed dismally that year leading to a total rebuilding of the team the next season.