The investigation of Gilbert Arenas and the guns he took to the Verizon Center took a much more serious turn Friday amid a report that the Washington point guard and teammate Javaris Crittenton allegedly drew on each other during a locker-room argument over a gambling debt.
Arenas responded with a flurry of messages on Twitter, at times making light of the news but also making one tweet that read somewhat like a denial: "I understand this is serious..but if u ever met me you know i dont do serious things im a goof ball this story today dont sound goofy to me."
Arenas later tweeted he couldn't talk about the report the way he wanted to. He did not respond to a text message left by The Associated Press. A message left for Crittenton's agent also was not returned.
The NBA and the Wizards would only confirm that an investigation is taking place — and it's being led by law enforcement, not the league.
"There is an active investigation by D.C. law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in a statement. "We are not taking any independent action at this time."
D.C. police said they are assisting the U.S. Attorney's Office in the matter. The Wizards said they are co-operating and they "take this situation and the ongoing investigation very seriously." The team had no further comment.
The Wizards and Arenas have both acknowledged that Arenas kept guns in his locker. The team has said the firearms were unloaded and kept in a locked container with no ammunition. Arenas has said he took his guns to the Verizon Center because he didn't want them in his house after the birth of his latest child. He said he later handed them over to team security to give to police.
"They just want to know where I got them from," Arenas said Tuesday night after a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "They want to make sure they're not dirty guns."
Gambling debts allegedly at root of altercation
But Yahoo! Sports and the New York Post, both citing unidentified sources, reported the investigation now involves Crittenton. The Post reported Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling debt. That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then reached for a gun, league security sources told the Post.
The U.S. capital has some of the most strict gun laws in the country. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement allows for players to legally possess firearms, but prohibits them at league facilities or when travelling on league business.
Pending the outcome of the investigation, Arenas and Crittenton both could face fines or suspensions from the NBA. Commissioner David Stern has taken a strong stance on guns, saying in 2006: "We think this is an alarming subject, that although you'll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe. And it's a real issue."
Arenas was suspended for Washington's season opener in 2004 because he failed to maintain proper registration of a handgun while living in California in 2003. Arenas, in the second season of a six-year, $111-million US contract, formerly played for the Golden State Warriors.
Arenas didn't make the reports sound serious with his first tweet on the matter Friday: "i wake up this morning and seen i was the new JOHN WAYNE. … Media is too funny."
Once known for his must-read blog, he had vowed not to even use Twitter until he had one million followers. He broke his silence on New Year's Eve because he said it was taking too long to reach the goal. He had about 11,000 followers as of early Friday evening.
On Friday, he tweeted often, referencing the gun investigation while mixing in references to other topics.
"if ur not laughing i dont think u should follow me becuz im never serious and i will never not say anything dumb and silly," he wrote, before finally taking a break.
Arenas is averaging 22.7 points a game this season as he returns from knee surgeries that limited to 15 games over the previous two seasons. Crittenton has an injured left foot and hasn't played this season.
The reports are more bad news in a troublesome season for the Wizards, who are 10-20 and in last place in the Southeast Division.