By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 2, 2010; D01
The Washington Wizards and all-star guard Gilbert Arenas found themselves under increased scrutiny on Friday after it was disclosed that the NBA was investigating him for having firearms at Verizon Center because of a confrontation with teammate Javaris Crittenton.
Two published reports on the dispute between Arenas and Crittenton were confirmed by several people close to the Wizards, who said the incident occurred before the team held practice on Dec. 21.
The New York Post also reported that Arenas and Crittenton pulled guns on each other, but Arenas -- while he would not confirm or deny having a dispute with Crittenton -- denied brandishing a weapon toward his teammate.
"That's not the real story," Arenas said as he left practice Friday. The Wizards guard has said previously that he brought his weapons to Verizon Center to get them out of his house in Virginia following the birth of his third child on Dec. 9.
When asked what he thought about the story, Arenas laughed and said: "I saw the story. Very compelling. Some real O.K. Corral [stuff]." He later wrote on his Twitter account, "i wake up this morning and seen i was the new JOHN WAYNE..lmao media is too funny."
Arenas did not respond to text messages and phone calls seeking further comment about the incident. Yahoo Sports also reported that Arenas and Crittenton had been involved in a dispute.
A D.C. police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the report of Arenas and Crittenton pulling guns on each other was news to authorities and would be added to the investigation.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said that the league won't plan any disciplinary action until the legal investigation is completed. "There is an active investigation by D.C. law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely," Frank said in an e-mailed statement. "We are not taking any independent action at this time."
Arenas, a three-time all-star, is in the second-year of a six-year contract worth $111 million. Back after missing most of the past two seasons because of a left knee injury, Arenas is averaging a team-best 22.7 points and 6.9 assists per game.
Crittenton has not played all season because of a left ankle injury that has bothered him since last summer. He had exploratory surgery in his foot two months ago and recently experienced a setback when the team was on its Western Conference trip. He recently flew to Indianapolis to get a second opinion on his foot. The Wizards declined to pick up Crittenton's fourth-year option in late October and he will be a free agent next summer.
When contacted by phone on Friday, Arenas's father, Gilbert Sr., also denied that Arenas and Crittenton pulled weapons on each other. "From the respect of guns being pulled in the locker room and at each other, yes, that's ludicrous," Arenas Sr. said. "Him bringing the guns to the locker room to keep away from his kids, that's true. Gil did not pull a gun on anybody. That's about all that I can say."
CBSSports.com first reported the NBA investigation on Dec. 24 and the Wizards later released a statement that Arenas had unloaded guns and no ammunition in a lock box in his locker. The statement did not mention Crittenton. Both Crittenton and his agent, Mark Bartlestein, declined comment when reached by telephone.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, players cannot have weapons at NBA facilities. Arenas hasn't been charged with a crime, but he could face a league fine or suspension following the investigation. The NBA and the Wizards are waiting to see if law enforcement agencies file charges before making a decision. An NBA Players Association spokesman said that the union is "actively monitoring all aspects of the situation."
On Friday, the Wizards released another statement. "The Washington Wizards take this situation and the ongoing investigation very seriously. We are continuing to cooperate fully with the proper authorities and the NBA and will have no further comment at this time."
The Wizards (10-20) have had a disappointing season on and off the court. They are in last place in the Southeast Division.
According to two sources close to the team, Crittenton and Arenas had a disagreement on the team plane on the Wizards flight from Phoenix on Dec. 19. The reason for the dispute is unclear, but it may have been over a card game.
A person who has spoken with Arenas recently said that the incident involving Crittenton was "nothing more than horseplay" and that there was never any intent to physically harm Crittenton. The person also said the argument between Arenas and Crittenton was over "who had the bigger gun."
Regardless of the circumstances, one player said Friday that the entire incident made him feel uncomfortable because the locker room is considered "sacred."
The NBA collective bargaining agreement prohibits firearms at league facilities. The clause was added in 2005, following an incident in 2002 involving Chris Mills, who was a member of the Golden State Warriors and a teammate of Arenas at the time. After a fight with the Portland Trail Blazers' Bonzi Wells, Mills allegedly pulled a weapon on the Blazers' team bus.
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Sebastian Telfair was fined an undisclosed amount in 2006 for carrying a loaded handgun registered to his girlfriend on the team plane at Boston's Logan International Airport when he was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Arenas has a prior weapons charge and was suspended for the season opener in 2004-05 after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons and vehicle charge for possessing a concealed weapon and driving without a license in 2003.
Wizards Coach Flip Saunders declined to comment on the situation, but he said that Arenas may not be available for the game on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs after developing some soreness in his left knee this week.
Staff reporter Clarence Williams contributed to this report.