Arenas explains guns in locker room

Updated: January 5, 2010, 5:33 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas met with law enforcement officials on Monday to explain why he had guns at the Verizon Center last month.

"As the person who caused this trouble in the first place, I thought it was my duty to be the first witness to come forward and meet with the prosecutors and detectives," Arenas said in a statement. "I told my attorney I wanted to get in for an interview as soon as we could arrange it, and that was [Monday]."

Multiple media reports over the weekend said that a dispute over a gambling debt led to a conflict between Arenas and Javaris Crittenton.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that an argument commenced during a card game on the team's overnight flight back to Washington from Phoenix on Dec. 19 and escalated into a heated exchange between Arenas and Crittenton. The Wizards had Dec. 20 off, but sources say hostilities between the two Wizards guards resumed Dec. 21 in the locker room on a practice day.

Sources say that Arenas, in response to what was said on the flight, placed the three guns on a chair near Crittenton's locker stall and invited him to pick one before practice on Dec. 21. Sources said that Crittenton subsequently let Arenas know that he had his own gun.

The Washington Post reported in Sunday's editions that Arenas, according to sources, was expecting Crittenton to see the guns on his chair as a joke based on the earlier back-and-forth on the plane, during which Crittenton allegedly said that he would shoot Arenas in his surgically repaired knee. But Crittenton, according to Post, reacted angrily and tossed one of the guns to the floor, saying he had his own.

In his statement, Arenas confirmed that the guns were brought out at the Dec. 21 practice.

"As I have said before, I had kept the four unloaded handguns in my house in Virginia, but then moved them over to my locker at the Verizon Center to keep them away from my young kids," the statement read. "I brought them without any ammunition into the District of Columbia, mistakenly believing that the recent change in the DC gun laws allowed a person to store unloaded guns in the District. On Monday, December 21st, I took the unloaded guns out in a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate. Contrary to some press accounts, I never threatened or assaulted anyone with the guns and never pointed them at anyone. Joke or not, I now recognize that what I did was a mistake and was wrong. I should not have brought the guns to DC in the first place, and I now realize that there's no such thing as joking around when it comes to guns -- even if unloaded."

Arenas' lawyer issued a statement saying that the player met with federal prosecutors at the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and detectives of the Metropolitan Police Department for more than two hours.

Authorities have not yet requested any interviews with Crittenton, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Monday.

In a phone interview Saturday with ESPN.com, Crittenton's agent, Mark Bartelstein, insisted that his client's name would eventually be cleared.

Arenas also apologized for his actions in the statement.

"I am very sorry for the effect that my serious lapse in judgment has had on my team, my teammates, the National Basketball Association and its fans," Arenas said. "I want to apologize to everybody for letting them down with my conduct, and I promise to do better in the future."

NBA commissioner David Stern likely will wait until the legal process is complete before handing down penalties, but he could rule on Arenas now since league rules were broken in that instance.

At the NBA's request, the firearms language was bolstered during collective bargaining in 2005. Players are subject to discipline if they bring guns to the arena or practice facility, or even an offsite promotional appearance.

Information from ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE