Gilbert Arenas talks with David Stern
Stern spoke Tuesday with Arenas, telling him he's excited to have him back in the league after Arenas served a 50-game suspension for bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room last December. But he also advised Arenas, who has a reputation for speaking his mind, not to talk about the incident, The Washington Post first reported.
Stern also told Wizards owner Ted Leonsis that the team should not discuss the incident, either.
"It's time to move on, rather than obsess about the past," Stern said Wednesday, according to the Post.
Arenas has not spoken publicly since he was sentenced in March to one month in a halfway house and two years of probation after pleading guilty to felony gun possession.
Stern said Arenas "couldn't be more enthusiastic" about getting back in the game and rejoining the Wizards, Stern told The Post.
"I said, 'You know what Gilbert, I just want to tell you, I'm delighted to have you back, you've paid a heavy price, but you're in good standing and, as far as I'm concerned, you should be talking only about the future and not about the past. And if anyone asks you why, you can say the commissioner told you,' " Stern said, according to the report.
I said, 'You know what Gilbert, I just want to tell you, I'm delighted to have you back, you've paid a heavy price, but you're in good standing and, as far as I'm concerned, you should be talking only about the future and not about the past. And if anyone asks you why, you can say the commissioner told you.'” -- NBA commissioner David Stern
Leonsis said he would comply with the commissioner's wishes to avoid getting fined, according to the report. But the Wizards clarified Leonsis' comments on Thursday morning, saying the commissioner did not order the team to keep quiet about the matter under threat of penalty.
Nevertheless, Wizards spokesman Kurt Kehl says Leonsis agrees with the commissioner's suggestion.
"The commissioner advised and suggested that Gilbert, the Wizards and Ted look forward and not look back, and Ted agreed with that advice and suggestion," Kehl said. "The idea of being fined was never intimated to him at all."
Leonsis, who is beginning his first full season as the Wizards' owner after buying the team from the Pollin family in June, said he has no issues with Stern's directive and agrees it's time to move forward, according to the report.
Leonsis said Arenas has paid a steep price for his actions after spending most of the past three years out of the game due to injuries and the suspension.
Arenas has played in only 47 games the past three seasons. He averaged 28.4 points and 6.0 assists per game in 2006-07, his last full season.
"He's excited about the upcoming season and I want to do nothing that gets in the way of his passion and excitement and love for the game and for the fans," Leonsis said, according to the report. "The best way to re-bond with the fans is to play well. And people will sense right away, whether or not he's back. I can't talk about it, he can't talk about it, he has to do it. And what I've seen, I've been very impressed."
Team president Ernie Grunfeld gave some insight on Arenas' psyche at his state-of-the-team news conference Thursday. Grunfeld said Arenas has been very upbeat while playing pickup games at the Verizon Center for the past two weeks and was the first player to pass the Wizards' preseason conditioning test.
"Gilbert has always been a basketball junkie," Grunfeld said. "He loves the game. He loves to be in the gym. He's always been an extremely hard worker, and he's doing the same things he's done in the past. He's been in the gym. He comes back and shoots at night. He's been in the weight room. He's in outstanding shape, and I think he's really looking forward to this season."
The Wizards will hold their annual media day on Monday. But Leonsis said there are plenty of other topics Arenas can talk about, according to the report.
"It doesn't serve anyone's interest to have Gilbert talking about what happened a year ago when the focus should be on the new season," Leonsis said. "How will Gilbert work with John Wall? I think that's fair game. 'Are you healthy? Are you excited about playing again? How do you think this team has been constructed?' That's all fair game, but to talk about other matters in the past doesn't help the league or the team."
Arenas pleaded guilty to violating Washington, D.C.'s gun laws in the Dec. 21 incident at the Verizon Center. Following an argument over an unpaid gambling debt totaling a few hundred dollars, Arenas brought several guns to the team locker room and set them near then-teammate Javaris Crittenton's locker with a sign telling him to "PICK 1." He was sentenced to 30 days in a halfway house and 400 hours of community service.
Crittenton, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, has been invited to the Charlotte Bobcats' training camp on a nonguaranteed contract.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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