WASHINGTON — Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas says he took unloaded guns from his locker in a “misguided effort to play a joke” on a teammate.
Arenas released a written statement Monday after meeting with law enforcement officials. And Arenas’ lawyer says the player voluntarily met with prosecutors and detectives and answered every question during a two-hour interview.
In his statement, Arenas repeated his earlier assertion that he brought four guns to the Verizon Center to store in his locker in order to get them out of his house and away from his children. He said he mistakenly believed that recent changes in D.C. law made it legal for him to store unloaded guns there.
Arenas said he took the unloaded guns out of his locker on Dec. 21 “in a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate.” He denied threatening or assaulting anyone. The New York Post has reported that Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other.
“Joke or not, I now recognize that what I did was a mistake and was wrong,” Arenas said. “I should not have brought the guns to DC in the first place, and I now realize that there’s no such thing as joking around when it comes to guns – even if unloaded.”
Two officials within the league who have been briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on Saturday that the incident stemmed from a dispute over card-playing gambling debts and a heated discussion in the locker room.
The other player involved is Javaris Crittenton. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, said earlier Monday that his client did nothing wrong.
It was unclear whether Crittenton also planned to meet with authorities about the incident. His lawyer, Peter White, is on vacation and said he would not be at any meetings Monday or Tuesday.
Arenas also apologized for his actions in the statement.
“I am very sorry for the effect that my serious lapse in judgment has had on my team, my teammates, the National Basketball Association and its fans,” Arenas said. “I want to apologize to everybody for letting them down with my conduct, and I promise to do better in the future.”
NBA commissioner David Stern likely will wait until the legal process is complete before handing down penalties, but he could rule on Arenas now since league rules were broken in that instance.
At the NBA’s request, the firearms language was bolstered during collective bargaining in 2005. Players are subject to discipline if they bring guns to the arena or practice facility, or even an offsite promotional appearance.