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Stern pushes for Arenas, Wizards to move past gun issue

By staff reports
Posted Sep 23 2010 10:13AM - Updated Sep 23 2010 7:05PM

WASHINGTON -- Interested in hearing Gilbert Arenas describe the lessons he learned from serving time in a halfway house? Don't hold your breath.

NBA commissioner David Stern has advised Arenas and the Washington Wizards not to talk about the former All-Star's felony gun conviction, and the Wizards say that's fine with them.

"The commissioner spoke to Gilbert," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Thursday. "His message was: 'You've paid your price, you're back in good standing, and don't feel obligated to talk about the past."'

The NBA on Thursday clarified its position, though, on what Arenas or the Wizards could say about Arenas' incident. Last December, Arenas brought guns into Verizon Center as part of a dispute with former teammate Javaris Crittenton and was suspended by the league for the final 50 games of the regular season.

League spokesman Tim Frank refuted a headline to a story in Thursday's Washington Post which claimed Stern had ordered both Arenas and the team not to discuss the gun incident any more, inferring that there would be punishments levied if either did so. New Wizards owner Ted Leonsis was quoted in the story saying he would follow Stern's edict because "I don't want to get fined."

But Frank said there will be no fine or punishment if either Arenas or the team talks about the incident.

"The Commisisoner's message was, we're supporting you," Frank said Thursday, "and you shouldn't feel obligated to talk about the past."

Frank said there was "never any inference of a fine" in Stern's conversations with Arenas. Stern has spoken with Arenas several times in the past few months as the 28-year-old guard prepares to return to the team for the start of training camp next week.

Arenas has not spoken publicly since he was sentenced in March to one month in a halfway house and two years of probation after pleading guilty to felony gun possession.

Leonsis has talked about the need for Arenas to reintroduce himself to the community so that fans can embrace him again, but that may not include any reflection or explanation about the series of events that transformed him from marketable hero to franchise embarrassment in a matter of weeks.

"The commissioner advised and suggested that Gilbert, the Wizards and Ted look forward and not look back, and Ted agreed with that advice and suggestion," Wizards spokesman Kurt Kehl said.

The Wizards clarified Leonsis' comments, saying the commissioner did not order Leonsis to keep quiet about the matter under threat of penalty.

"The idea of being fined was never intimated to him at all," Kehl said.

Leonsis said in a brief e-mail Thursday that he does not believe the team would be fined if it spoke about the incident, though he doesn't plan to do so in the future.

"I was laughing and being funny," Leonsis said about his quotes to the Post.

Arenas is expected to meet with reporters on Monday as part of the team's media day on the eve of training camp. He has been playing both in Washington and in Chicago all summer and has looked very good, according to sources. Arenas is also now two years removed from his last knee operation, on his left knee, in September of 2008. He has played in just 47 games the last three seasons while he rehabbed his knee and went through the suspension.

Stern suspended Arenas indefinitely last January, after the discovery that Arenas had brought four guns into the Wizards' locker room in December, continuing an argument he'd had with Crittenton on the team's plane a couple of days earlier as the Wizards flew back to Washington after a west coast road trip. The indefinite ban morphed into a rest-of-the-season punishment later in the month, after Arenas had pled guilty in D.C. Superior Court to a single felony charge of carrying a pistol without a license. In March, Arenas was sentenced to 30 days in a halfway house, 400 hours of community service and two years of probation.

Stern told the Post that he thought it was "time to move on, rather than obsess about the past," and said he told Arenas he "should only be talking about the future" when camp opens.

Arenas will have to adjust to a new team upon his return. The Wizards traded Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson after the suspension, bringing in forwards Josh Howard from Dallas and Al Thornton from the Clippers. Washington then won the Draft lottery in May and selected point guard John Wall from Kentucky with the first pick in June. The Wizards also traded for Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich and Nets forward Yi Jianlian and got rookies Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin in the Draft.

TNT analyst David Aldridge contributed to this report. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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