Ze­ro­ing in on the truth

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY CLIN­TON YATES clin­ton.yates@wash­post.com  Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/ dc­sports­bog

For­mer Washington Wiz­ard Caron But­ler re­leased his book, “Tuff Juice: My Jour­ney from the Streets to the NBA,” on Wed­nes­day, and it con­tained the clear­est and most de­tailed ac­count of the 2009 in­ci­dent that led to five guns show­ing up in the team’s locker room.

By But­ler’s ac­count, a card game in­volv­ing Gil­bert Are­nas and Javaris Crit­ten­ton went awry on the team plane, and it led to an ar­gu­ment that even­tu­ally spilled over to the team fa­cil­ity:

“When I en­tered the locker room, I thought I had some­how been trans­ported back to my days on the streets of Racine. Gil­bert was stand­ing in front of his two locker stalls . . . with four guns on dis­play. Javaris was stand­ing in front of his own stall, his back to Gil­bert.

“‘Hey, MF, come pick one,’ Gil­bert told Javaris while point­ing to the weapons. ‘I’m go­ing to shoot your [ex­ple­tive] with one of these.’

“‘Oh no, you don’t need to shoot me with one of those,’ said Javaris, turn­ing around slowly like a gun­slinger in the Old West. ‘I’ve got one right here.’

“He pulled out his own gun, al­ready loaded, cocked it, and pointed it at Gil­bert.”

Are­nas was sus­pended 50 games by the league for his role in the in­ci­dent, and it’s widely re­garded as one of the cra­zi­est in­ci­dents to have taken place in an NBA locker room.

Af­ter But­ler’s story was first re­ported by The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg, Are­nas took to In­sta­gram on Thurs­day to ex­plain his side of the story. In two posts, which have since been deleted, the man once known as “Agent Zero” ex­plained the tale with a rather light-hearted tone.

The two sto­ries di­verge at the point that But­ler claims he saw Are­nas lay­ing out the four guns; Are­nas says the guns were there be­fore any­one else ar­rived. Also, the spe­cific time­lines of how Crit­ten­ton came to have his gun raised are slightly dif­fer­ent.

The first In­sta­gram post was a long di­a­tribe about the specifics of the card game, ex­plain­ing how Are­nas got in­volved.

“I re­spect Caron But­ler’s book and got my copy but the guns in the locker room story is FALSE in his book,” Are­nas wrote. He then goes on to de­scribe the very spe­cific hand that Crit­ten­ton was up­set about. That’s where the ar­gu­ment started. Are­nas de­tails the rest.

“When the plane lands he walks back talk­ing tough, say­ing if we were in the streets, ‘ I’d pop you in your knees.’ I said ‘[Ex­ple­tive] I’ll give you the guns to do it on Mon­day.’ It was Satur­day, and we had Sun­day off. I get to the gym on Mon­day at 8 a.m. and put four empty guns on his chair and a note that said ‘ pick one.’ No one saw me touch a gun or put them there. [ When] Crit­ten­ton came in I was in the train­ing room. Crit­ten­ton, DeShawn Steven­son, An­dray Blatche, and Do­minic McGuire were the only ones in the locker room when I walked in.

“So Crit­ten­ton says ‘ what’s this [ex­ple­tive]?’ I said ‘ you said you were gonna shoot me so [ex­ple­tive] there go guns so pick one,’ mean­ing pick the one you are go­ing to shoot me with like you said. He said ‘ I don’t need this [ex­ple­tive].’ That’s when Caron is now in the room, and a trainer. Crit­ten­ton takes the guns off his seat and throws them on the floor, hit­ting the train­ers foot. He runs into the train­ing room and Crit­ten­ton pulls out a lit­tle sil­ver gun that Ed­die Mur­phy shot the pinkie toe off with ha­ha­ha­haha (I’m not go­ing to say if it was loaded or pointed at me, no need to bash a man who can’t de­fend his name). Let’s just say I started laugh­ing and said ‘put that Har­lem Nights gun away, look at the [ex­ple­tive] I’m GIV­ING you, imag­ine what I have at home so you can keep those.’ The [ex­ple­tive] end.

“JaVale picks up my guns and takes them to my car. Caron hides Crit­ten­ton’s gun in the locker room. I was in the jacuzzi so Crit­ten­ton comes in with me and we started talk­ing and he said I play too much, and I told him he was just a hot head.”

The posts are meant to be some sort of a self-ex­on­er­a­tion, and his light­hearted tone about the events is even a lit­tle bizarre.

What’s not funny is that Crit­ten­ton is now serv­ing a 23-year prison sen­tence for the killing of an At­lanta woman in 2011.

Are­nas, who is still get­ting paid to not play bas­ket­ball, has quite the history on so­cial media and spent the ear­lier part of the week mak­ing fun of Mem­phis Griz­zlies guard Matt Barnes for his role in an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Knicks Coach Derek Fisher and Barnes’ ex-wife, Glo­ria Go­van. Glo­ria’s sis­ter Laura is Are­nas’s ex-fi­ancee.

A tan­gled web, in­deed.

TONY GU­TIER­REZ/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gil­bert Are­nas, right, called for­mer Wiz­ard Caron But­ler’s ac­count of the in­fa­mous guns in the locker room in­ci­dent false.

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