Despite having played in three All-Star Games and having been among the NBA’s top scorers of the mid-2000s, many basketball fans still remember Gilbert Arenas for an incident in December 2009, where he and his Washington Wizards teammate, Javaris Crittenton, allegedly pointed guns at each other in the team’s locker room. It was widely thought since then that the dispute was all about money, but in a recent interview, Arenas shed light on the controversial incident and explained what started the beef between both Wizards guards in the weeks leading up to it.
In what was said to be the first time Arenas discussed the incident in depth, the former Wizards superstar spoke with the Action Network on Monday and explained that the issues with Crittenton were over a game of bourre, or booray, a popular card game among many professional athletes, especially NBA players. As Arenas recalled, the feud began when both Wizards guards were on a team flight and Crittenton was in the middle of a bad losing streak where he had repeatedly gotten “booed,” or failed to score a single trick, at the time Arenas joined in the game.
“Javaris had gotten booed twice already, and I walk into the game when he gets booed on his own deal,” Arenas related.
“Booed on his own deal! I mean, this man was bleeding. I’m already hyped because there’s $1,100 in the pot. I smell the blood. … I came in on my deal, and already he’s f**king livid. He’s all heat. ‘This is bulls**t! How you gonna get in the game now?!’ He’s upset because he started thinking about the odds, and he’s the last person to get the cards.”
???? Gilbert Arenas. Gambling. Guns. ????
Exclusive: The real story behind the high-stakes card game that rocked the NBA: https://t.co/97sroP3TmM
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) August 7, 2018
Gilbert Arenas then explained what happened next, as he entered the game and became the dealer, talking trash as he was accustomed to do whenever a teammate was having a streak of bad luck during a booray session. As then-Wizards center JaVale McGee indicated that he had a potential round-winning hand, Arenas noticed that Javaris Crittenton was getting even more frustrated, as his bad luck continued and he needed five new cards for even a small chance to beat McGee.
With Crittenton allegedly furious at McGee for “letting [him] lose [his] money” and not allowing him a chance to win his money back, Arenas then chimed in with more trash talk, which he claims directly led to the gun incident that took place a few days later.
“I was like, ‘Javaris, I will burn your car, while you’re in it. Then we’ll find an extinguisher to help ya a** out, And he says, ‘Well, I’ll just shoot you then.’ I said, ‘Man, I’ll bring you the guns to shoot me!'”
Two days after the booray session where Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton’s issues supposedly started, the former called the latter’s bluff, as he brought four unloaded guns to the Wizards’ locker room. Arenas told the Action Network that he did this as a joke to further rile his younger, more “volatile” teammate. That apparently was not how Crittenton saw it, as he supposedly turned down Arenas’ offer to choose one of the unloaded guns and pointed his own loaded gun at him, shocking their teammates and scaring them out of the locker room.
While no shots were fired and no one was hurt in the incident, the Action Network noted that this led to both Arenas and Crittenton getting suspended by the NBA for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. Arenas played for another two seasons with greatly diminished returns, while Crittenton never returned to the NBA. According to Sports Illustrated, he was sentenced to 23 years in jail in 2015, after he pleaded guilty in the accidental shooting death of a young mother during a 2011 gang-related drive-by.
As further noted by the Action Network, Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton’s apparent locker room encounter was not the last time that two NBA players got into a highly publicized incident over a game of booray. The publication recalled that then-Memphis Grizzlies guards O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen allegedly got into a fistfight in January 2011 because Mayo “continued to talk smack” despite owing Allen $7,500 from a booray game. But even with those incidents and others in mind, the card game is still a favorite among NBA players despite the potential for things to get heated when money is on the line.