By the time Gilbert Arenas strode into courtroom 312 of the District of Columbia Superior Court, the line of spectators awaiting his arrival was already more than 20 deep. The curious members of the public craned for a fleeting glimpse of the Washington Wizards star as he appeared suddenly, led by his lawyer, O’Melveny & Myers partner Kenneth Wainstein.
Outside, the courthouse entrance was thronged with camera crews and television trucks, which seemed to form a wall along Indiana Avenue.
“You’d think it was the president of the United States coming,” said one man, staring at the scene from inside the building.
Events inside the courtroom unfolded much as everybody expected. Standing in a slightly baggy, gray pinstripe suit, Arenas pleaded guilty to one count of carrying a pistol without a license. While the crime comes with a maximum penalty of five years in prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said the government would ask for a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, which would be six months, including possible jail time, probation, or a split sentence.
Later, Kavanaugh recounted the details of Arenas’ now notorious, and possibly career-ending, incident. He explained how Arenas and a teammate, Javaris Crittenton, had gotten into a fight over a gambling debt while on the team plane. Arenas had threatened to blow up Crittenton’s car and shoot him in the face. Crittenton said he would shoot Arenas in his knee. (Arenas later told investigators his comments were in jest.) The next day, Dec. 21, Arenas walked into the team’s locker room at the Verizon Center with a black backpack containing four guns: a .500 magnum silver Smith & Wesson revolver, a .45-caliber black semiautomatic Kimber Eclipse, a 9 mm Browning and a gold-plated .50-caliber Desert Eagle.
Arenas laid the guns by Crittenton’s locker with a handwritten sign: “Pick 1.” When Crittenton walked by, he asked “What’s this?” He then picked up a gun and tossed it across the room, before showing his own semi-automatic.
Arenas has said since that the entire incident was a practical joke gone wrong. According to Kavanaugh, no ammunition was found in the guns.
Arenas stood stoically as Judge Robert Morin asked him a series of set questions: Do you know what the maximum sentence is? Are you satisfied with your lawyer? Throughout the hearing, the judge seemed to talk away from his microphone, making him barely audible to the crowd. At the request of the prosecution, he allowed Arenas to remain free pending his March 26 sentencing.
After the hearing, the press gathered back outside the courtroom doors, waiting for the basketball star and his lawyer. After a while of waiting, the crowd began to disperse, leaving behind those who were in court to deal with their own cases.