Teammates pull weapons on each other
- Last Updated: 9:40 AM, January 2, 2010
- Posted: 2:53 AM, January 1, 2010
Guess they're still the Bullets at heart.
NBA all-star Gilbert Arenas and his Washing ton Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other in the team's locker room during a Christmas Eve dispute over a gambling debt, The Post has learned.
League sources say the pistol-packing point guards had heaters at the ready inside the Verizon Center, the Washington, DC, home of the Wizards -- whose name was changed from the Bullets over gun- vi olence concerns.
It was the three- time all-star Arenas, 27, who went for his gun first, sources said, draw ing on the 22-year-old Crit tenton, who quickly brandished a firearm as well.
It was not clear whether other teammates saw the shocking standoff, which happened on a practice day.
The duel in DC -- unprecedented in sports history -- was sparked when Critten ton became enraged at the vet eran guard for refusing to make good on a gambling debt, a source said.
"I'm not your punk!" Crittenton shouted at Arenas, according to a league source close to the Wizards.
That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then also grabbed for a gun, league security sources said.
A playground pal of Crittenton's from Atlanta, Kendrick "Bookie Ball" Long, confirmed the locker-room standoff and said he learned of it directly from the third-year player out of Georgia Tech.
"He [Arenas] was f- - -ing with him; he [Crittenton] was just defending himself!" declared Long, who said the dispute was over money but would not elaborate.
The Wizards announced on Christmas Day that Arenas had admitted to bringing guns to the locker room and had turned them over to team security. No ammunition was handed over.
Today, the Wizards in a statement said they "take this situation and the ongoing investigation very seriously. We are continuing to cooperate fully with the proper authorities and the NBA and will have no further comment at this time."
The NBA club's statement didn't disclose how Wizards officials discovered that Arenas was storing weapons on the job.
But a league source said Arenas' weapons were uncovered only after the confrontation with Crittenton.
Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld declined to comment. "It's in the hands of [Washington] authorities," said Grunfeld, a former star Knicks player and president. "We're going to get to the bottom of this, if there is a bottom to this."
Washington police said they were investigating Arenas for gun-possession violations. But the Wizards' gun grab has also drawn the attention of the feds.
"We're working with the Metropolitan Police Department on the investigation. That's about all we can say at his point," said Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in DC.
The feds have been investigating gambling within the NBA since disgraced ex-referee Tim Donaghy admitted betting on games and feeding information to bookies. It was not clear whether the gambling debt that sparked the Arenas-Crittenton duel had anything to do with league games.
A top players-union official said he was shocked by the allegations. "This is unprecedented in the history of sports," said Player's Association Executive Director Billy Hunter. "I've never heard of players pulling guns on each other in a locker room."
Team owner Abe Pollin -- his sensitivity heightened by the fatal shooting of his good friend Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 -- changed the club from the Bullets to the Wizards in 1997 because he didn't like the violent overtones of the original name. Pollin died in November.
Arenas, who has three kids, reportedly told team officials he brought guns to his Verizon Center locker so they wouldn't be close to his newborn at their home in Great Falls, Va.
He denied pulling a gun on Crittenton and even mocked the suggestion he would ever point a weapon at a teammate.
"You guys, I wanted to go rob banks, I wanted to be a bank robber on the weekends," Arenas said sarcastically after a game this week.
Firearm laws in Washington are among the nation's strictest. Until a recent US Supreme Court ruling, private ownership of guns was illegal in the nation's capital.
As it stands now, gun owners are allowed to transport firearms only within DC under very limited circumstances -- such as taking the weapon to be registered or to a practice range. There's no provision under current DC law for a private citizen to have a gun at work.
In 2003, Arenas pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon in San Francisco.
Arenas claimed the gun was legally registered in Arizona -- where he was star player for the University of Arizona Wildcats -- and said he forgot he needed California authorization to carry it there.
Crittenton hasn't played a minute this season for the Wizards and has struggled to overcome a bone bruise and strained tendons.
Additional reporting by Geoff Earle in Washington