Once upon a time, Gilbert Arenas was on track to be one of the greatest scorers the league had ever seen. But one fateful night in 2009 spelled the beginning of the end that story arc.
That was the night former teammate Javaris Crittendon pulled out a loaded handgun in the locker room and pointed it at Arenas. Neither Arenas nor Crittendon never really spoke about the incident in great detail up until yesterday when Gilbert Arenas told Action Network what really went down, or at least his version of it.
Contrary to an account from former teammate Caron Butler in his 2015 book Tuff Juice, Arenas says the confrontation had nothing to do with a gambling debt.
Arenas bristled at Butler's account of the incident in a deleted October 2015 Instagram post, calling his former teammate a “snitch" and even going so far as accusing Butler of hiding Crittenton’s gun and added, “I took a felony because you told them Crit didn’t have anything and I pointed the gun at him. That’s why the world thinks I’m the one who pulled the gun on my teammate and that’s the story the team thought was correct.”
The guys have had some amazing guests on this season, but today they welcome an original who goes by many names, including Agent Zero and the Hibachi. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only, Gilbert Arenas. Filled to the brim with character, Gil needs no introduction to basketball fans who are aware of his successful, yet tumultuous, career in the NBA.
According to Arenas, Crittendon, already upset over a string of tough losses, was upset after Gilbert joined his teammates in a game of cards and doubled the pot to $2,200. Arenas says that current Lakers big man JaVale McGee made it clear that he had an unbeatable hand. So, Arenas dropped out but Crittendon stayed in and lost the hand.
Arenas detailed the ensuing conversation to The Action Network’s Jon Gold:
“They figured it out, JaVale wins,” Arenas said. “The plane lands and now Javaris says to JaVale, ‘So you just gonna let me lose my money like that? You ain’t even gonna be a real n—- and give me a chance to get my money back? Aw hell naw, this is the type of s— that gets you f—ed up in these streets.’ I was like, ‘Javaris, I will burn your car, while you’re in it. Then we’ll find an extinguisher to help ya ass out,’ and he says, ‘Well, I’ll just shoot you then.’ I said, ‘Man, I’ll bring you the guns to shoot me!’”
“It was about me calling his bluff,” Arenas said. “You say you’re going to shoot me? Fine, I’ll bring you the guns to do it.”
In February, we featured Gilbert Arenas in our "C'Mon Son!" column, a space dedicated to folks whose foolish behaviors are questionable at best, and idiotic at worst. Formerly known by his popular "Agent Zero" nickname while in the NBA, Arenas continues to reveal himself as a mentally bankrupt real life zero.
Arenas continued by telling the tail end of the story, the part we're familiar with: He laid out four guns in front of his locker, told Crittenton to pick one, dared his teammate to follow through on his threat, and that’s when Crittenton allegedly unveiled his own loaded gun, cocked it and pointed it at Arenas’ head.
Arenas was already suffering from a knee injury and never got back to the Agent Zero form that saw him scorch defenders on a nightly basis. Crittenton never played again and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to multiple charges stemming from the 2011 drive-by shooting death of an Atlanta woman. Prior to his injury, Arenas' behavior and off the cuff quotes could be stomached because of his offensive productivity. But that apparently went out the window after the injury and the gun incident. 2012 was the last year Arenas donned an NBA uniform, and that was in very limited minutes for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Arenas pleaded guilty to illegal possession of an unlicensed handgun in the District of Columbia as a result of the December 2009 incident. He was ordered to serve two years of probation. Here is how prosecutors characterized the confrontation in a 2010 press release announcing Arenas’ guilty plea.
For some, this is indicative of young black millionaires running amuck, for others it's the entitlement of pro athletes gone awry, but when I hear names like Arenas, Crittendon, and JaVale McGee mentioned in the same incident, it's clear that this is what could happen in any pro locker room when money and privilege come into a leader-less locker room void of accountability.