Toronto, Canada – WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended by the NBA indefinitely on Wednesday pending investigation into an incident in which he took guns into the team's changing room.
"Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.
"Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA," he added.
The three-times All Star met with federal prosecutors on Monday to explain why he took several weapons into the locker room. Arenas said the weapons were unloaded and he has yet to face charges.
Arenas issued a statement through his lawyers saying he understood the suspension and had apologized to Stern personally.
"I feel very badly that my actions have caused the NBA to suspend me, but I understand why the league took this action," the statement read.
"I put the NBA in a negative light and let down my team mates and our fans. I am very sorry for doing that.
"While I never intended any harm or disrespect to the NBA or anyone else, my gun possession at the Verizon Center and my attempts at humor showed terrible judgment.
"I take full responsibility for my conduct.
"Earlier today, I called Commissioner Stern to apologize, and I hope we will be able to talk soon. I look forward to the day I can return to basketball.
"In the meantime, I will focus on dealing responsibly with this serious situation and I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigations by law enforcement and NBA authorities."
The player came in for media criticism for his behavior in Tuesday's game at Philadelphia in which he appeared to make a gun sign with his fingers during the warm-up and commented on the incident on twitter.
The decision to suspend Arenas was supported by his team.
"We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert's recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable," the Wizards said in a statement signed by president Ernie Grunfeld.
"Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert's behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin's leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so."
Arenas has said he believed it was legal to store the guns in the District of Columbia and that they were unloaded when he took them out of his Verizon Center locker on December 21 after moving them from the house to get them away from his children.
The player said in a statement on Monday that he took the guns out "in a misguided effort to play a joke on a team mate."
(Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Ed Osmond/Greg Stutchbury)