Chris Gatling (center) pleaded guilty to multiple charges after squatting in a house. (Brian Drake/Getty Images)
Former NBA All-Star Chris Gatling pleaded guilty to theft and forgery charges after he was accused of squatting in a home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.
The Associated Press reports that Gatling pleaded guilty to one count of theft and one court of forgery in Maricopa County Superior Court on Thursday and that he will be sentenced on Oct. 4. Had a plea agreement not been reached, Gatling was reportedly set to go to trial on Aug. 8.
Gatling was accused of breaking in the key box at the home and living there for about a year. Police say the homeowners lived in California but had left the power on at the Arizona home.
Gatling's attorney, Michael Alarid III, declined to comment on his client's guilty pleas.
The plea agreement comes after Gatling initially pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of theft and forgery after he was accused of living in the home and listing it for rent on Craigslist. His lawyer told the Arizona Republic in May that the case was a "misunderstanding" and added these details.
A local TV station reports that he later listed the four-bedroom house for rent for $800 and called it an “Ex-NBA” home online.
Court records say that Gatling got a down payment from one potential renter but that another got suspicious and contacted police.
Gatling, 45, spent his 11 NBA seasons with the Warriors, Heat, Mavericks, Nets, Bucks, Magic, Nuggets and Cavaliers. He holds career averages of 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
The No. 16 pick by the Warriors in the 1991 draft out of Old Dominion, Gatling made the 1997 All-Star Game while averaging a career-high 19 points and 7.9 rebounds for the Mavericks and Nets. His NBA career ended in 2002, but he went on to play professionally overseas. Basketball-Reference.com reports Gatling's NBA income topped $29.4 million.
Marty Burns wrote in the January 13, 1997, issue of Sports Illustrated that Gatling was a fan favorite in Dallas because of his signature headband and because of his off-the-bench energy that landed him the "Energizer" nickname.
It could be the hottest head-wear in Dallas since the 10-gallon hat. We're talking, of course, about those ubiquitous headbands popularized by Mavericks forward Chris Gatling. Before a game at Reunion Arena last month, golfer Fred Couples was seen sporting a blue terry cloth number while seated at midcourt. "I'm a big Gatling fan," says Couples, who lives in Dallas. "Even before he got here, I used to check his box score every morning to see how he did. I just always liked his game."
If Couples liked the 29-year-old Gatling's game before this season, he must be loving it like a six-inch eagle putt now. A 6'10" forward who was signed as a free agent from the Heat last summer, Gatling has emerged as the front-runner for the 1996-97 Sixth Man Award. At week's end he was leading the Mavericks in scoring (19.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.1), and ranked ninth in the league in field goal accuracy (53.2%). More impressive, he was putting up those numbers in just 27.2 minutes a game. The last NBA player to lead his team in both points and boards while averaging less than 28 minutes was Hall of Fame center Harry (the Horse) Gallatin with the 1956-57 Knicks. "If he's not the best sixth man right now," says Vancouver general manager Stu Jackson, "then I don't know who is."
Before this season Gatling was known mainly for being the league's only player with a steel plate in his head. His appearance and style made him seem even more unusual. With his headband, lefthanded jumper and gangly 230-pound frame, Gatling looks as if he's first team All-Gawky. But on the court he has a sneaky arsenal of spin moves and head fakes, surprising quickness and a reliable hook shot that often leaves defenders weak-kneed. "To me, he looks kind of frail," says Grizzlies swingman Blue Edwards. "But with his athletic ability he's able to take that giant step across the lane and throw up that ugly hook. He can get to the basket on anybody, and he's able to finish."
Gatling needed the steel plate in his head after slipping and hitting his head on pavement, a fall that left him with a blood clot in his brain that required surgery.