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“Yes, sir.” “No, sir.”
That’s about as creative as Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas got in his appearance this afternoon in D.C. Superior Court to face a felony count of firearms possession.
His plea? Guilty, your honor. The usually ebullient Arenas entered the courtroom in a subdued posture, his hands stuffed into his pockets, clad in a gray flannel pinstriped suit. Before the hearing, he sat in the corner of a witness room, on the floor, located just outside the courtroom’s entrance.
The U.S. attorney’s office, which handles prosecution of such offenses in the District, asked for a sentence of no more than six months in prison, though Judge Robert E. Morin isn’t bound in any way by that recommendation. He’ll make his decision on March 26.
Though the plea deal is no surprise at this point, the proceeding did yield some new details on what went down between the all-star guard and teammate Jarvaris Crittenton in the Wizards’ locker room.
Let’s take it from the start: As previously reported, the troubles started out on the team plane, when Arenas was playing a card game called “bourre” with Crittenton. Things got heated, and threats started flying. The court date furnished a little more color on this part of the narrative.
Crittenton reportedly challenged Arenas to a fistfight; Arenas said he was too old to put up his dukes and countered with a threat to burn Crittenton’s car (where’d he come up with that one?); then Arenas said he’d shoot Crittenton in the face. Crittenton said he’d retaliate by shooting Arenas in the knee, hardly greater punishment than getting shot to the face, but that’s beside the point here.
Anyhow, Arenas, in a stunt true to his fun-loving and reckless character, brings four guns to work in a backpack, including: a .50-caliber gold-plated Desert Eagle, a silver-plated Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver, a .45 caliber Kimber Eclipse pistol, and a 9mm Browning with extended magazine. According to Arenas lawyer Ken Wainstein, the four guns were legally owned by Arenas in Virginia.
The legality of guns in the Old Dominion aside, Arenas’ reason for taking them to the Verizon Center, in this court account, differs from the original explanation, which is that he was trying to distance the firearms from his young children.
Arenas then places the guns in front of Crittenton’s locker, and things go crazy, just as the great Mike Wise chronicled in the Washington Post. One new detail on this clash: At one point, Crittenton apparently threw one of the guns across the locker room. Though it’s been widely reported that Crittenton chambered a round in a gun of his own, the court proceeding didn’t have anything to say about that.
What happened to the guns after the encounter is something of a farce. Arenas allegedly stuffed them into a briefcase and asked a teammate to put them in his car. The teammate followed the instructions but couldn’t find the car. He thereupon stashed the guns in a “secure place.”
Later, the Wizards brass would learn about the locker room incident. A Wizards employee, the prosecutor stated, gets the briefcase and spirits it out of the District. At that point, lawyers for the Wizards and Arenas get involved. On Christmas Eve, they tell the U.S. attorney’s office, and that same day, D.C. police go to Arenas’ home and he hands over the four guns.
Arenas described the whole affair to prosecutors as a “part of a practical joke.”
Prosecutors agreed to allow Arenas to remain free pending sentencing; he does have to give up his passport and “refrain from possessing firearms.” He left the courthouse and proceeded next door to police headquarters for booking. Arenas made no comment to reporters, aside from a written statement from his lawyer.
Reporting by Mike DeBonis