Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended indefinitely without pay Wednesday by the NBA. The decision was handed down by commissioner David Stern, who seemed prompted to take immediate action in the wake of Arenas' conduct in the huddle before Tuesday's game against the 76ers in Philadelphia. Arenas pretended to spray gunfire at teammates who were circled around him.
In a statement, Stern said his initial intention was to wait for both federal and local law enforcement in the District of Columbia to complete investigations into Arenas' admitted, unlawful possession of four firearms at his locker in the Verizon Center. Stern then said that while it seemed clear Arenas was likely going to get "a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game."
Arenas, in a statement through his attorney, said, "I feel very badly that my actions have caused the NBA to suspend me, but I understand why the league took this action. I put the NBA in a negative light and let down my teammates and our fans. I am very sorry for doing that."
Arenas, who turned 28 Wednesday, added that he had called Stern to apologize.
"While I never intended any harm or disrespect to the NBA or anyone else, my gun possession at the Verizon Center and my attempts at humor showed terrible judgment," he said. "I take full responsibility for my conduct."
The Wizards, who owe $80.1 million on the remaining four years of a six-year, $111 million deal he signed in 2008, put out a statement endorsing the NBA's decision. The team could seek to void the remainder of the contract by enforcing a morality clause that is included in all player contracts. Arenas would then become a free agent.
"Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert's recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable," read a statement on the team's Web site. "Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert's behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable.''
After Tuesday's game Arenas said his teammates encouraged the pregame antics - "They said, 'Do it, do it, do it,'" Arenas told The Washington Post. - which could result in discipline to other players.
Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players association, released a statement yesterday saying the union "will continue to monitor the investigation being conducted by law enforcement authorities and the . At the conclusion of these investigations, we will determine the appropriate action to take on Gilbert's behalf."