The Washington Post has an excerpt of Caron Butler’s new book, Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA—Editorial Reviews on Amazon provided by Dwyane Wade, Pat Riley, and Mark Wahlberg—that delivers his account of the one time Gilbert Arenas nearly got himself shot in the Wizards locker room over a $1,100 debt. It’s worth your time.
I’m repeating myself here, but the NBA media digesting the Arenas-Crittenton standoff and then just sort of shuffling it off into the gallery of quirky things Gilbert did will always be inexplicable. Gilbert Arenas throws opulent birthday party; repairs own knee with Milton Bradley instruments and a magnifying glass; poops in shoe; is nearly murdered by teammate over welshing on a bet that represents 0.00099 percent of the gross value of his contract. You can see how one Gilbert misadventure bleeds into the next, but a loaded gun pointed at one of the best players in the NBA, in an NBA locker room, by a man who would eventually shoot someone to death 20 months later, is something I’ll always wish we knew a little more about.
Which brings us to this excerpt, which is wonderful. Caron Butler’s account is mostly about how much of a badass Caron Butler is. Here’s an, uh, excerpt from the excerpt:
“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.
Other players who had been casually arriving, laughing and joking with each other, came to a sudden halt, their eyes bugging out. It took them only a few seconds to realize this was for real, a shootaround of a whole different nature. They all looked at each other and then they ran, the last man out locking the door behind him.
I didn’t panic because I’d been through far worse, heard gunshots more times than I could count, and seen it all before. This would have been just another day on the south side.
That’s so good. The team ran away and locked the guys with the guns in a room with Caron Butler. Butler had a reputation in the NBA as one of the guys you don’t pull some shit with—his youth, which is the broader topic of the book, is one of the harder cases in the league—but there are lots of guys liable to knock you out if talk the wrong mess who aren’t going to lock themselves in a room with a loaded gun and a card-game debt. This is some Charles Oakley shit. You imagine Butler grabbing them both by the scruff of their necks and shaking them until all the bullets clattered out of their pockets.
This is the good stuff! But it’s still weird that we don’t have this sort of account from everyone on site that day—the trainers, the assistant coaches, every last jamoke hustling his ass out that door. The facts of the incident were never really in doubt. Here’s Mike Wise for the Post, back in 2010, a month or so after the incident:
The two players had been arguing during a card game on the Wizards’ flight back from Phoenix Dec. 19, and the dispute spilled into the team locker room at Verizon Center before practice two days later. Arenas has acknowledged bringing his handguns to the arena and displaying them in the locker room that morning in what he maintained was a playful gesture aimed at his teammate.
According to two first-hand accounts of the confrontation, Crittenton responded to Arenas’s action — which included laying the four unloaded weapons in Crittenton’s cubicle with a note that read, “Pick One” — by brandishing his own firearm, loading the gun and chambering a round.
The obvious note here is that Gilbert is an amazing shithead. The secondary one is that we knew this was impossibly fertile ground for a no-shit near-homicide in a locker room, and it was reported with so much remove that Caron Butler telling stories is still news to us.
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