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Monday, Jan. 4, 2010

Arenas admits 'bad judgment' in taking guns into team locker room

WASHINGTON (AP) Gilbert Arenas said Saturday he used "bad judgment" in bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room. He also denied that he gambles and said there are misconceptions in the various stories about a dispute between himself and teammate Javaris Crittenton.

News photo
Not a good call: Washington's Gilbert Arenas is at the center of a rapidly escalating investigation involving his possession of firearms. AP PHOTO

As for the rest, he said he'll tell it to authorities on Monday.

Arenas spoke following the Wizards' 97-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. His remarks came after two days of reports about the investigation into the guns he kept at the Verizon Center — and about an hour after the family of late Wizards owner Abe Pollin said it was "extremely poor judgment" that the guns were there in the first place.

"I agree," Arenas said. "That's bad judgment on my part to store them in here, and I take responsibility for that."

Arenas skirted other questions about the matter. Two officials within the league who have been briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on Saturday that it involves a dispute over card-playing gambling debts and a heated discussion in the locker room. Neither official was told of Arenas and Crittenton actually drawing guns on each other — as the New York Post has reported.

Both officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Asked about guns being drawn, Arenas said: "I can't speak on that. But if you know me, you've been here, I've never did anything (involving) violence. Anything I do is funny — well, it's funny to me."

Asked if the accounts of what happened have been blown out of proportion, Arenas laughed and said: "A little."

"I give money away for free," he said. "I think if I owed someone some money, I think I'd pay it up. I play poker on my phone or my computer. If I lose, I just reset the game. I don't gamble. I don't do anything like that."

Arenas said he was "not nervous at all" about the possible outcome of the investigation, but the implications are serious. What began with the NBA looking into a possible violation of its own rules has turned into a matter involving the U.S. Attorney's Office and District of Columbia police. The legal system, the league and the Wizards could take action if the allegations prove true.

Asked if he had met with law enforcement officials, Arenas said: "I deal with that on Monday. . . . I've got to put it in their hands and tell the story and see what they say."

Crittenton has not played this season because of a foot injury and was not immediately available to reporters in the locker room after Saturday's game.

"We were friends before; we're friends now," Arenas said. "We don't have no problem."

Pollin died Nov. 24, and his family is running the team during the transition to a new ownership group. The late owner had little tolerance for player misbehavior, and he changed the team's name from Bullets in the 1990s because of the violent connotation.

"The fact that guns were brought to the Verizon Center is dangerous and disappointing and showed extremely poor judgment," the family's statement said.

The Wizards said on Christmas Eve that Arenas stored unloaded firearms in a locked container in his locker, with no ammunition. Arenas said he wanted them out of the house after the birth of his latest child.

One of the officials who spoke to the AP offered further details on Saturday. The official said the dispute between Arenas and Crittenton began during a card game on the team's flight home from a West Coast road trip on Dec. 19, and the two players continued their dispute in the locker room when the team reconvened to practice on Dec. 21.

The nation's capital has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S., and the NBA's collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from possessing firearms at league facilities or when traveling on any league business.

Depending on the severity of the findings, the Wizards could invoke the morals clause found in standard NBA player contracts and attempt to void the remainder of the six-year, $111 million deal Arenas signed in the summer of 2008.

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