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NBA duo said to be quick on draw in locker room incident

NBA all-star Gilbert Arenas (pictured) and his Washington Wizards team-mate Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other in the team's locker room during a Christmas Eve dispute over a gambling debt, according to the New York Post.

League sources say the pistol-packing point guards had guns at the ready inside the Verizon Centre, the Washington DC home of the Wizards -- whose name was changed from the Bullets over gun-violence concerns.

It was the three-time all-star Arenas, 27, who went for his gun first, sources said, drawing on the 22-year-old Crittenton, who quickly brandished a firearm as well. It was not clear whether other team-mates saw the shocking stand-off, which happened on a practice day. The duel in DC was sparked when Crittenton became enraged at the veteran guard for refusing to make good on a gambling debt, a source said.

"I'm not your punk!" Crittenton shouted at Arenas, according to a league source close to the Wizards. That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then also grabbed for a gun, league security sources said.

A playground pal of Crittenton's from Atlanta, Kendrick 'Bookie Ball' Long, confirmed the locker room stand-off and said he learned of it directly from the third-year player out of Georgia Tech. The Wizards announced on Christmas Day that Arenas had admitted to bringing four guns to the locker room and had turned them over to team security. No ammunition was handed over. In a statement, the Wizards said they are "continuing to cooperate fully with the proper authorities".

Firearm laws in Washington are among the strictest in the US. Up until a recent US Supreme Court ruling, private ownership of guns was illegal in the nation's capital. There's no provision under current DC law for a private citizen to have a gun at work.

In 2003, Arenas pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges of carrying a concealed weapon in San Francisco.

Arenas released a written statement on Monday repeating his assertion that he brought four guns to the stadium to store in his locker in order to get them out of his house and away from his children. He said he mistakenly believed that recent changes in DC law made it legal for him to store unloaded guns there.

Arenas said he took the unloaded guns out of his locker "in a misguided effort to play a joke on a team-mate", denying what the New York Post had reported.

The whole affair does not seem to be affecting Arenas' game as he had 19 points and 14 assists in the win over Philadelphia last night.