Well, here's something I definitely didn't expect to see on "Jeopardy!" on Monday night:
This was the $800 clue in a first-round category called "Sports Jeopardy," which featured clues about teams or people placed in peril. Reigning champion Kristin Sausville, a stay-at-home mom from Newark, Del., correctly answered: The Washington Wizards. (Sorry: Who are the Washington Wizards?)
Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that the firearm-brandishing locker-room standoff between teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton wound up on the beloved quiz show; after all, as my esteemed associate Eric Freeman noted, "Jeopardy!" mentions weird events, historical occurrences and bits of cultural ephemera from all walks of life all the time. (That's kind of the show's thing, really.) It does feel pretty crazy, though, that such an insane part of recent NBA history has now been reduced to the sort of simply weird factoid that pops up on a televised trivia competition.
It occurs to me that a fair amount of our readership might not even know what we're talking about here — I am getting older and you are getting younger, always and forever — so here's the relevant context:
Early in the 2009-10 season, Crittenton, a 6-foot-5 guard out of Georgia Tech, lost a $1,100 pot to then-teammate JaVale McGee in the card game Bourré. Crittenton allegedly yelled at McGee. Arenas — at that point a pair of injury-plagued seasons removed from his swag-dipped, high-volume-shooting-and-scoring, All-Star heyday in the nation's capital — allegedly stepped into the fray. Crittenton allegedly threatened Arenas with gunfire.
Days later, Arenas reportedly brought four guns into the Wizards locker room, accompanied by a note calling on Crittenton to "PICK 1" to use in carrying out his threats of shooting Arenas. (Arenas later denied pulling a gun.) Crittenton reportedly chose to respond by pulling his own weapon in the locker room instead. No bullets flew and cooler heads eventually prevailed, but the league caught wind of the beef, and both Crittenton and Arenas were suspended for the remainder of the '09-'10 season.
It was absurd, and surreal, and frightening. It was a depressing lowlight in the unraveling of the Wizards, who had become a playoff-caliber squad in the middle of the decade before Arenas' injuries, the rise of the toxic McGee-Nick Young youth movement and the eventual trades of aging core members Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson sent Washington back to the league's basement.
It was arguably the last relevant NBA moment for Arenas, who never regained his pre-injury form, spent a couple of nondescript stints with the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies, and has been out of the NBA since the spring of 2012. It was a sad sign of things to come for Crittenton, who years later would be indicted on murder and drug charges. And while the years weren't nearly as unkind to McGee, his once-promising future never really came to pass.
The Wizards eventually flipped McGee to the Denver Nuggets in a "get rid of the knuckleheads, bring in some grownups" deal that imported Nene and helped mark a John Wall-led course-correction that's got Washington back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture for the second straight season. McGee had one good playoff series in Denver, got paid a ton of money to stay on the bench behind two better players in Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos, got hurt, got traded and got cut. He is, for the moment, like Arenas and Crittenton, out of the league.
Everyone got touched; no one came out clean. And now, all that's left is an answer in the form of a question. But then, given the individuals and circumstances involved, maybe that's fitting.
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