WASHINGTON - Straight-faced and subdued, Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas pleaded guilty yesterday to a felony gun charge connected to a locker-room argument, leaving his all-star career in limbo and his freedom in doubt.
Arenas won't know whether he must serve jail time until his March 26 sentencing and remains free until then. The government indicated it will not seek more than six months, although the judge can give Arenas anywhere from probation to the charge's maximum term of five years. Guidelines call for six to 12 months.
Arenas did not speak to reporters on the way into D.C. Superior Court - only shaking his head when asked if he wanted to tell fans anything - or when he walked down the block to police headquarters after his 20-minute hearing.
In court, Arenas was barely audible, offering mostly terseanwers such as "Yes, your honor" or "No, sir." Those hands that have made so many shots and earned Arenas millions of dollars were shoved into the pockets of his gray, pinstriped suit. His demeanor stood in stark contrast to the gregarious, blog-writing, jersey-tossing persona that made the player known as "Agent Zero" a fan favorite. It also contrasted with the player who cracked jokes with reporters and on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 21 confrontation with a teammate that ended with guns being displayed.
Indeed, the loudest words yesterday came in a statement issued by the Wizards about 2 1/2 hours after the hearing ended.
"We are deeply saddened and disappointed in his actions that have led to the events of this afternoon," the team said. "Gilbert used extremely poor judgment and is ultimately responsible for his own actions."
Arenas' NBA future could hinge on the league's investigation, and it's possible the league will wait until the sentence is issued before deciding his punishment.