WASHINGTON - -NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Washington guard Gilbert Arenas indefinitely without pay Wednesday, saying a gun incident in the Wizards' locker room last month and Arenas's behavior since had led him to conclude "that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game."
Stern's action, announced in a scathing statement issued from his office in New York, cast into doubt the future career of one of Washington's most colorful athletes, who once delighted basketball fans with his All-Star play but has been seeking to regain his form this year after missing most of the past two seasons with a knee injury.
It also came as new details emerged about the locker-room confrontation between Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, a Wizards teammate, on Dec. 21 that suggest a potentially far more volatile incident than Arenas originally reported to team officials.
The two players had been arguing during a card game on the Wizards' flight back from Phoenix on Dec. 19, and the dispute spilled into the Verizon Center locker room before practice two days later. Arenas has acknowledged bringing his handguns to the arena and displaying them in the locker room that morning in what he said was a playful gesture aimed at his teammate.
According to two firsthand accounts of the confrontation, Crittenton responded to Arenas' action - which included laying the four unloaded weapons in Crittenton's cubicle with a note that read, "Pick One" - by brandishing his own firearm, loading a clip of ammunition into the gun and cocking the weapon.
Two of the five people in the room that morning, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Arenas had originally not disclosed Crittenton's action to protect the little-used guard from prosecution and had told Crittenton he would take full responsibility for both players' actions that day.
In a two-hour interview with the district attorney Monday, Arenas, in his version of the story, spoke of Crittenton's loaded gun, a person with knowledge of Arenas' testimony said, adding that the player was told by attorneys not to lie under oath.
Mark Bartlestein, Crittenton's agent, declined to comment. Crittenton, in a series of text messages responding to a request for comment, said the account provided by the witnesses was "false."
Stern decided to act Wednesday after Arenas playfully formed his hands into pistols and pretended he was shooting his teammates as the Wizards huddled courtside before their game against the 76ers in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.