PORTLAND, Ore. – NBA players union executive director Billy Hunter said he has tried unsuccessfully to reach suspended Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas(notes) to show support and plans to wait until law-enforcement authorities complete their investigation before deciding whether to challenge Arenas’ punishment.
“We just wait to see the outcome, wait to see the punishment the league is inclined to impose,” Hunter said. “If we think it’s a bit heavy we’ll do what we normally do, which would be challenge it. If it’s excessive, we’ll challenge it.”
The NBA suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay on Wednesday pending the outcome of an investigation into his admitted possession of guns in the Wizards’ locker room. Commissioner David Stern declared Arenas “not currently fit to take the court” after the Wizards guard mimicked firing guns with his fingers prior to the team’s game in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Hunter said the league had the right to suspend Arenas given that he was in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and called his decision to bring unloaded guns into the locker room a “stupid error.”
“We’re taking it day by day,” Hunter said. “I think Gilbert finds himself in a difficult situation, and we are going to represent Gilbert like we would any other player in any other instance.
“There is nothing to do right now. … It’s not a complex matter. It’s a situation where you got one, two witnesses in each responsible party. It’s pretty simple, straightforward. It’s just how soon the government decides, if anything, that he is in violation of the law.”
The Washington Post also reported Wizards guard Javaris Crittenton(notes) brandished and loaded his own gun in the locker room on Dec. 21. Crittenton denied the Post’s account. Hunter said he had read the report and didn’t want to speculate on its veracity.
“I think there are too many stories out there and every day you find out that a lot of the stories and the facts are not correct at all or consistent with what happened,” Hunter said. “That’s why I’m waiting to see, and I’ll know when the authorities finish their investigation what the facts are and we will do what we have to do from that point on.”
Arenas is losing $147,208 per game during the suspension. He is in the second season of a six-year, $111 million contract. There has been speculation the Wizards could try to void the contract if Arenas is charged and convicted with a felony.
“No, I’m not concerned about that,” Hunter said. “But then again, that’s something in the future and those are things that we have to deal with as things evolve. And it all depends to a great extent what transpires with potential charges.
“In retrospect, he made a stupid error, something uncalled for, just the fact that he would possess weapons on the premises. In D.C., it’s more an issue of an unregistered firearm. It’s not out assaulting anybody or doing anything like that.”