NEW YORK — Gilbert Arenas tried joking about his gun trouble. NBA commissioner David Stern found none of it funny.
Arenas was suspended indefinitely without pay Wednesday by Stern, who determined the player’s behavior made him “not currently fit to take the court.”
A day after the Washington Wizards guard was photographed before a game in Philadelphia playfully pointing his index fingers at his teammates as if they were guns, Stern warned the former All-Star that his conduct will “ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse.”
Arenas is under investigation by federal and local authorities after admittedly bringing guns into the Wizards’ locker room. The Wizards’ troubles may not end there. Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that according to first-hand accounts, teammate Javaris Crittenton, whose disagreement with Arenas reportedly fueled the incident, loaded and cocked his own gun in response to Arenas. In text messages, Crittenton called that account “false,” according to the report.
Though Arenas first apologized Monday for his poor judgment and promised “to do better in the future,” he also joked on Twitter about the incident and the media firestorm it spawned. Tuesday, the day after meeting with investigators, Arenas said he feared Stern more than the authorities because the commissioner was “mean.”
But Stern apparently had enough of Arenas’ often-flippant response to a situation that has dealt the league a public relations blow.
League sources said Stern’s decision to suspend Arenas now, rather than await the results of local and federal investigations, was a direct result of Arenas’ flippant comments and attitude. Those sources also said it’s “fair to say” Arenas’ actions on Tuesday expedited the process. League officials were incensed by the way Arenas mocked the reactions of the media and public toward his behavior on his Twitter page and in comments to reporters — even before Tuesday’s actions in Philadelphia, the sources said.
“The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us,” Stern said.
“Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game,” Stern said. “Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA.”
The Wizards said they supported the suspension, calling Arenas’ behavior “unacceptable.” According to The Washington Post, Arenas said he “respected” Stern’s decision.