NBA Commissioner David Stern has suspended Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas and his teammate Javaris Crittenton without pay for the remainder of the 2009-2010 season. The Washington Post is reporting that Arenas has told the players union not to fight the suspension.
Arenas, who pleaded guilty last week to a felony gun charge, already has missed 12 games, and the Wizards have 38 remaining, so the total suspension would be 50 games. Arenas still could face jail time; while the felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years, prosecutors have asked for six months.
The NBA has conducted a thorough investigation of events relating to this matter.
It is not disputed that, following an argument on the team’s flight home from a game in Phoenix, both Mr. Arenas and Mr. Crittenton brought guns to the Verizon Center locker room and – with other players and team personnel present or nearby – displayed them to one another in a continuation of their dispute. The players engaged in this conduct despite a specific rule set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the Players Association prohibiting players from possessing a weapon at an NBA facility, and reminders of this prohibition given annually by the NBA to players both in writing and in person.
The issue here is not about the legal ownership and possession of guns, either in one’s home or elsewhere. It is about possession of guns in the NBA workplace, which will not be tolerated.
I have met separately with Mr. Arenas and with Mr. Crittenton. Both have expressed remorse for their actions and an understanding of the seriousness of their transgressions. Both have volunteered to engage in community service in order to turn the lessons they have learned into an educational message for others. I accept fully the sincerity of their expressions of regret and intent to create something positive from this incident.
Nevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct. Accordingly, I am today converting Mr. Arenas’ indefinite suspension without pay to a suspension without pay for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, and am also suspending Mr. Crittenton without pay, effective immediately, for the remainder of the 2009-10 season.
The Wizards also released a statement:
The NBA announced today that they have suspended Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for the remainder of the season. We understand and fully support their decision.
Both players violated D.C. laws and NBA rules by bringing guns into the locker room. 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. We hope that this negative situation can produce something positive by serving as a reminder that gun violence is a serious issue.
We look forward to putting this unfortunate incident behind us and once again focusing our full attention on playing exciting basketball in front of our great fans at Verizon Center.”
Ernie Grunfeld, President, Washington Wizards
Irene Pollin, Principal Owner, Washington Sports and Entertainment (WSE)
Robert Pollin, Chief Executive Officer, WSE
James Pollin, President, WSE