January 06, 2010

NBA commissioner David Stern indefinitely suspended Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas without pay on Wednesday.

The three-time All-Star has admitted to bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room and is under investigation by local and federal authorities.

Stern took action the day after Arenas pretended to shoot his teammates as Washington huddled before a game in Philadelphia. The Wizards called his conduct "unacceptable" and said Wednesday that they supported Stern's decision.

The commissioner said Arenas' behavior "will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse," and that the Wizards' leading scorer "is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game."

The suspension came two days after Arenas met with law-enforcement officials. Following the two-hour interview, Arenas released a statement reiterating that he brought four unloaded guns to the Verizon Center to store in his locker and keep them away from his children at home. He also apologized for displaying the guns in a "misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate" during an incident on Dec. 21. Arenas reportedly had a dispute with Wizards guard Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt.

In a statement on Wednesday, Arenas said: "I feel very badly that my actions have caused the NBA to suspend me, but I understand why the league took this action. I put the NBA in a negative light and let down my teammates and our fans. I am very sorry for doing that.

"While I never intended any harm or disrespect to the NBA or anyone else, my gun possession at the Verizon Center and my attempts at humor showed terrible judgment. I take full responsibility for my conduct.

"Earlier today, I called Commissioner Stern to apologize, and I hope we will be able to talk soon. I look forward to the day I can return to basketball. In the meantime, I will focus on dealing responsibly with this serious situation and I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations by law enforcement and NBA authorities."

A law enforcement official told CNN that Arenas, who lives in Virginia, does not have any guns registered in Washington, D.C. According to the source, he needed to register the guns with the District of Columbia, but did not do so.

Benjamin Friedman, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in D.C., said possession of a registered firearm that has not been registered in D.C. is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. Carrying a pistol without a license is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The NBA's collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from carrying firearms at league arenas.

"The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us," Stern said in a statement.

Arenas is averaging 22.6 points and 7.2 assists this season for Washington (11-22), which lost to the Cavaliers 121-98 on Wednesday in Cleveland without its starting point guard. Arenas, who turned 28 on Wednesday, is making $16.2 million this season in the second year of a six-year, $111 million contract. Each missed game will cost Arenas about $147,000 in salary. According to the collective bargaining agreement, players suspended for more than 12 games can appeal the ban before an independent arbitrator.

On Tuesday, 14-time NBA All-Star Karl Malone said Stern needed to act forcefully in disciplining Arenas.

"I don't want to see Arenas made an example of, but this is not just a minor situation, and if we say that, it's ridiculous," Malone wrote in a story for SI.com. "This is one of those times that the league needs to say, 'We will not condone this.' "

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.



Karl Malone:Zero tolerance for guns in the locker roomIan Thomsen:Stern will make example of ArenasMichael McCann:Arenas probe could have far-reaching consequencesGeorge Dohrmann:Plaxico's downfall had no impact on ArenasPhoto Gallery:Incidents of athletes involved with guns

You May Like