Gilbert Arenas reveals the trash talk that led to the 2009 locker room gun incident

Yahoo Sports
Former <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/was" data-ylk="slk:Washington Wizards">Washington Wizards</a> star Gilbert Arenas pled guilty in court to a gun charge for the 2009 locker room incident. (AP)
Former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas pled guilty in court to a gun charge for the 2009 locker room incident. (AP)

Gilbert Arenas presented a more detailed account of the infamous 2009 confrontation that resulted in former Washington Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton pulling a loaded gun on him in a locker room.

In an interview with freelance writer Jon Gold for sports gambling website The Action Network, Arenas said his dispute with Crittenton stemmed from an intense bout of trash-talking during a game of Bourré on the team plane and not, as ex-teammate Caron Butler suggested in his 2015 book, over an $1,100 debt from the game.

According to Arenas, when he joined the table and doubled the pot from $1,100 to $2,200, Crittenton was already irritated from a string of tough losses in a game that also included JaVale McGee. Arenas claimed McGee made it clear he was holding an unbeatable hand, so he folded, flashing his own impressive hand for all to see. Except, Crittenton stayed in the game and proceeded to lose the hand.

And here’s how Arenas detailed the ensuing conversation to Gold:

“They figured it out, JaVale wins,” Arenas said. “The plane lands and now Javaris says to JaVale, ‘So you just gonna let me lose my money like that? You ain’t even gonna be a real n—- and give me a chance to get my money back? Aw hell naw, this is the type of s— that gets you f—ed up in these streets.’ I was like, ‘Javaris, I will burn your car, while you’re in it. Then we’ll find an extinguisher to help ya ass out,’ and he says, ‘Well, I’ll just shoot you then.’ I said, ‘Man, I’ll bring you the guns to shoot me!’”

[…]

“It was about me calling his bluff,” Arenas said. “You say you’re going to shoot me? Fine, I’ll bring you the guns to do it.”

Arenas then laid out the case that was reported at the time: He laid out four guns in front of his locker, told Crittenton to pick one, dared his teammate to follow through on his threat, and that’s when Crittenton allegedly unveiled his own loaded gun, cocked it and pointed it at Arenas’ head.

The official 2009 account in court

Both players were suspended for the remainder of the season. Already hampered by knee injuries, Arenas never could not replicate the All-Star form he displayed earlier in his career upon returning in 2010. Crittenton never played again and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to multiple charges stemming from the 2011 drive-by shooting death of an Atlanta woman.

Arenas pled guilty to illegal possession of an unlicensed handgun in the District of Columbia as a result of the December 2009 incident. He was ordered to serve two years of probation. Here is how prosecutors characterized the confrontation in a 2010 press release announcing Arenas’ guilty plea:

According to the government’s proffer of evidence, on or about December 19, 2009, during a chartered flight from Phoenix, Arizona, Arenas and a fellow teammate became involved in a verbal exchange following a card game. Although Arenas maintains that the statements he made during this exchange were made in jest, the exchange between Arenas and the teammate involved mutual threats to shoot one another. Arenas also told the teammate that he would burn the teammate’s Cadillac Escalade.

On the morning of December 21, 2009, Arenas arrived at the Verizon Center, and entered the team’s locker room. When Arenas entered the locker room that morning he was carrying at least one firearm in his backpack. Once Arenas entered the locker room, he placed four firearms on the chair located directly in front of the locker of the teammate with whom he had the prior verbal exchange. Arenas then wrote the message “PICK 1” on a piece of paper, and placed it on the teammate’s chair near the firearms. Arenas remained in the locker room.

Moments later, the teammate walked into the locker room and approached his locker. He saw the handguns and he and Arenas once again exchanged words. During this exchange, Arenas stated, “You said you were going to shoot me, so I thought you would like some firepower. Pick one.” The teammate picked up one of Arenas’s firearms from his chair, threw it across the locker room, then reportedly took out what appeared to Arenas to be a silver-colored semi-automatic handgun.

Crittenton initially denied bringing his own loaded handgun to the locker room.

Caron Butler’s 2015 account

Butler provided a different account in his 2015 book “Tuff Juice,” excerpted by The Washington Post. The former Wizard said the argument began when Arenas pocketed $1,100 and told Crittenton, “Might or fight or whatever you got to do to get your money back.” The dispute spilled over onto the shuttle van from the team plane, where both players told each other, “I play with guns,” according to Butler.

And here’s how Butler characterized the moments leading up to the locker room exchange:

“Hey, MF, come pick one,” Gilbert told Javaris while pointing to the weapons. “I’m going to shoot your [expletive] with one of these.”

“Oh no, you don’t need to shoot me with one of those,” said Javaris, turning around slowly like a gunslinger in the Old West. “I’ve got one right here.”

Arenas disputed Butler’s account in a since-deleted October 2015 Instagram post, calling his former teammate a “snitch.” He accused Butler of hiding Crittenton’s gun and added, “I took a felony because you told them Crit didn’t have anything and I pointed the gun at him. That’s why the world thinks I’m the one who pulled the gun on my teammate and that’s the story the team thought was correct.”

In a podcast appearance this past January, Arenas made a point of noting that he asked Crittenton to choose the gun he would like to shoot his teammate with, not the other way around. Whatever account you believe, it seems clear that Arenas threatened to burn Crittenton inside his car, and then presented his teammate with a choice of guns. Knowing what we know now, he really dodged a bullet.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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