There was no doubt that Arenas would be facing some form of punishment by the NBA for his part in an incident which involved bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room on December 21st. Most thought, however, that the league would wait for the authorities to complete their investigation before issuing their ruling. But recent actions by Arenas himself, including making a gun-like gesture with his hands in a pregame huddle on Tuesday, seemed to have forced the commissioner's hand.
The full statement issued by David Stern reads as follows:
"The possession of firearms by an NBA player in an NBA arena is a matter of the utmost concern to us. I initially thought it prudent to refrain from taking immediate action because of the pendency of a criminal investigation involving the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department, and the consideration of this matter by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia. For the same reason, I directed the Wizards to refrain from taking any action.
"Wizards personnel continue to be interviewed by law enforcement authorities, some are scheduled for appearance before the grand jury and the investigation is proceeding with the intensity that one would expect for such a serious incident.
"Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in 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. Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA."
The Wizards were similarly unamused by Tuesday night's antics, and the team weighed in on the matter with a statement of its own, signed by team president Ernie Grunfeld, team owner Irene Pollin and executives Robert Pollin and James Pollin.
"We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert's recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements [Tuesday] night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert's behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin's leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so."
Because Arenas currently does not employ an agent, he will likely rely heavily on the National Basketball Players Association in navigating his options. Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBPA, released the following statement acknowledging Arenas' suspension:
"The Players Association was informed today that Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely by the NBA as a result of his actions in bringing firearms into his team locker room. Gilbert has acknowledged his regret regarding this incident, and the Players Association is aware that there is an ongoing criminal investigation taking place. The Players Association will continue to monitor the investigation being conducted by law enforcement authorities and the Commissioner's office. At the conclusion of these investigations we will determine the appropriate action to take on Gilbert's behalf."
"If I really did something wrong, it would bother me," Arenas said. "I would feel remorse for what I did, but I didn't do anything.''
After learning of his suspension on Tuesday, Arenas released yet another apology through his attorney, accepting responsibility for the actions that led to his punishment.
"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.
"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. I take full responsibility for my conduct.
"Earlier today, I called Commissioner Stern to apologize, and I hope we will be able to talk soon. I look forward to the day I can return to basketball. In the meantime, I will focus on dealing responsibly with this serious situation and I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations by law enforcement and NBA authorities."