NEW YORK - When Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton brought their dispute to work, they needed to leave the guns home.
Instead, the Washington Wizards guards became the first players to violate NBA rules prohibiting firearms on team property, and commissioner David Stern suspended both without pay for the remainder of the season Wednesday.
Stressing that guns in the workplace “will not be tolerated,” Stern delivered the punishment after meeting with Arenas earlier Wednesday, and with Crittenton a day before. Arenas already had been suspended indefinitely by Stern on Jan. 6.
“We have preached to (players) in writing and actually in person on this very subject and nevertheless they brandished firearms and that just can’t be tolerated,” Stern said on a conference call. “And if there’s any doubt to any of our players about it in the future, we will be dealing with this in an even more severe way.”
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Both players admitted bringing a gun or guns into the Wizards’ locker room — violating a provision added to the collective bargaining agreement in 2005 — after a dispute stemming from a card game on a team flight. Stern said the players expressed remorse, but added, “nevertheless, there is no justification for their conduct.”
Asked what message the penalties sent, Stern said: “We mean what we say when we say that guns are prohibited from being in our buildings and on team business.
“And if you violate that prohibition, which is an agreement between the players’ association and the NBA, you will be dealt with harshly because it’s very potentially dangerous to our players, to the other players and to anyone else who might be involved.”
Arenas, who is forfeiting about $147,200 per game, had already been suspended indefinitely earlier. Crittenton will lose about $13,435 per game, or $510,530, from his $1.48 million salary.
Arenas pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to a felony gun charge after a confrontation with Crittenton at the Verizon Center. Arenas, who is scheduled to be sentenced March 26, is in the second season of a six-year, $111 million contract and will be docked $7.36 million.
Arenas, a three-time All-Star and once the face of the Wizards’ franchise, will miss the final 50 games of the season.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said he isn’t ruling out the possibility of voiding the remainder of Arenas’ $111 million contract. Grunfeld says the team is exploring all its options. Of Arenas, he said: “When something serious like this happens, people have to be responsible for their actions.”