WASHINGTON — Gilbert Arenas said Saturday he used "bad
judgment" in bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room. He also
denied that he gambles and said there are misconceptions in the various stories
about a dispute between himself and teammate Javaris Crittenton.
As for the rest, he said he'll tell it to authorities on
Arenas spoke following the Wizards' 97-86 loss to the San
Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. His remarks came after two days of reports
about the investigation into the guns he kept at the Verizon Center – and about
an hour after the family of late Wizards owner Abe Pollin said it was "extremely
poor judgment" that the guns were there in the first place.
"I agree," Arenas said. "That's bad judgment on my part
to store them in here, and I take responsibility for that."
Arenas skirted other questions about the matter. Two
officials within the league who have been briefed on the investigation told The
Associated Press on Saturday that it involves a dispute over card-playing
gambling debts and a heated discussion in the locker room. Neither official was
told of Arenas and Crittenton actually drawing guns on each other – as the New
York Post has reported.
Both officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity
because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Asked about guns being drawn, Arenas said: "I can't speak
on that. But if you know me, you've been here, I've never did anything
(involving) violence. Anything I do is funny — well, it's funny to me."
Asked if the accounts of what happened have been blown
out of proportion, Arenas laughed and said: "A little."
"I give money away for free," he said. "I think if I owed
someone some money, I think I'd pay it up. I play poker on my phone or my
computer. If I lose, I just reset the game. I don't gamble. I don't do anything
Arenas said he was "not nervous at all" about the
possible outcome of the investigation, but the implications are serious. What
began with the NBA looking into a possible violation of its own rules has turned
into a matter involving the U.S. Attorney's Office and District of Columbia
police. The legal system, the league and the Wizards could take action if the
allegations prove true.
Asked if he had met with law enforcement officials,
Arenas said: "I deal with that on Monday. … I've got to put it in their hands
and tell the story and see what they say."
Arenas again stressed that he's "a jokester" and that
nothing in his life is actually serious. Many of the comments he has made on the
matter have been lighthearted.
"I'm a goof ball and that's what I am, so even doing
something like this, I'm going to make fun of it and that's how I am," Arenas
said. "Some people say I'm not taking it serious, but why be depressed at home
when I can just make myself laugh?"
Crittenton has not played this season because of a foot
injury and was not immediately available to reporters in the locker room after
"We were friends before; we're friends now," Arenas
said. "We don't have no problem."
Pollin died Nov. 24, and his family is running the team
during the transition to a new ownership group. The late owner had little
tolerance for player misbehavior, and he changed the team's name from Bullets in
the 1990s because of the violent connotation.
"The fact that guns were brought to the Verizon Center
is dangerous and disappointing and showed extremely poor judgment," the family's
statement said. "Guns have absolutely no place in a workplace environment and we
will take further steps to ensure this never happens again."
The Wizards said on Christmas Eve that Arenas stored
unloaded firearms in a locked container in his locker, with no ammunition.
Arenas said he wanted them out of the house after the birth of his latest child.
One of the officials who spoke to the AP offered further
details on Saturday. The official said the dispute between Arenas and Crittenton
began during a card game on the team's flight home from a West Coast road trip
on Dec. 19, and the two players continued their dispute in the locker room when
the team reconvened to practice on Dec. 21.
The nation's capital has some of the strictest gun laws
in the nation, and the NBA's collective bargaining agreement prohibits players
from possessing firearms at league facilities or when traveling on any league
business. Commissioner David Stern has said players should leave their guns at
home and could levy substantial fines or suspensions, pending the outcome of the
Arenas has been suspended once before because of a
gun-related matter. He sat out Washington's season opener in 2004 because he
failed to maintain proper registration of a handgun while living in California
in 2003 and playing for the Golden State Warriors.
Depending on the severity of the findings, the Wizards
could invoke the morals clause found in standard NBA player contracts and
attempt to void the remainder of the six-year, $111 million deal Arenas signed
in the summer of 2008.
Such an option might be tempting because the Wizards
have yet to get much of a return on the investment. Arenas missed all but two
games last season as he recuperated from knee operations, and has struggled to
adjust to new coach Flip Saunders' offense this season.
Arenas played Saturday despite a sore left knee. He
finished with 23 points and eight assists as the Wizards loss their fourth in a
row to drop to 10-21.
"My concern is only on the basketball court right now,"
Arenas said. "We're not performing the way we should."