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Philadelphia, PA (The Sports Network) - Back when Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton made the mistake of taking a Boo-Ray dispute into the Washington Wizards locker room, the NBA's gun culture was front page news.
Many NBA players grew up in poverty, where everything from burglary to murder was commonplace. Arenas was the main player in the Washington scandal, a former All-Star that foolishly brought four guns to his workplace, placing them in front of Crittenton's locker with a sign telling the 6-foot-5 Atlanta native to "PICK 1."
Crittenton, perhaps taking Arenas' poor and rather dangerous attempt at levity far too seriously, pulled out his own gun in response.
Now think about your workplace. Anyone brandish their firearms so brazenly?
In the NBA, guns have become almost a fashion accessory.
Utah Jazz guard Devin Harris once told the New York Daily News that between 60 and 75 percent of the NBA's players own guns.
"I mean, look at the situation," Harris told the newspaper. "A lot of guys have been robbed. A couple of guys, God rest their souls, have passed away. I guess they feel like they need some sort of protection, I don't know. I can't speak for everybody. I'd say between 60 and 75 percent (of players own guns)."
To be fair, there is some empirical evidence to support that position. Former All-Star forward Antoine Walker was robbed at gunpoint in his Chicago home during July of 2007. Seven years earlier Walker and another NBA player, Nazr Mohammed, were robbed on a Chicago street.
The most tragic incident of all took place in football when Washington Redskins All-Pro safety Sean Taylor was murdered during a robbery of his Miami-area home on November 26, 2007. Taylor was shot in the upper leg by an armed intruder and the wound severed his femoral artery. He died a day later.
Crittenton may have not been Tupac or Biggie growing up but he came from the inner city and fought his way to the top of the food chain and therefore became a target for any miscreant on the street.
He found that out first hand in April telling police he and a friend were leaving an Atlanta-area barbershop just before 11 p.m. when two teenagers robbed them.
According to Crittenton, one of the teenagers held him at gunpoint and ordered him "give me what you got." The former Mr. Georgia Basketball that has amassed over $4 million in what has been a pedestrian pro career handed over a $25,000 black diamond necklace, a $30,000 black diamond watch, an iPhone and $25 cash.
Police speculate Crittenton was out for revenge on August 19 when he opened fire from a black Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, killing 23-year-old Julian Jones, a mother of four. He was arrested late Monday at a Southern California airport and has been charged with the murder of Jones.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones had been walking with a group of people that included the man Crittenton believed had robbed him of his jewelry in April, 18-year-old Trontavious Stephens.
For what it's worth Stephens had denied his involvement in the robbery and Crittenton's defense attorney Eldridge Suggs said his client wasn't in the vehicle at the time of the shooting and was looking forward to clearing his name.
In the end, the legal system will decide Crittenton's fate but his plight once again brings to light the NBA's significant problem with firearms.
Absent of a change in federal law there isn't much NBA commissioner David Stern can do even with a new collective bargaining agreement as long as his players who do own guns do it in a legal fashion.
Stern did try to address the issue back in October of 2006 after Stephen Jackson, then with the Indiana Pacers, shot his gun in the air outside an Indianapolis strip club.
The commish described it as an "alarming subject" and stating "that although you'll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe."
That point can be debated but one thing is certain -- if the shooter of Julian Jones, whether it was Crittenton or not, didn't have a gun on August 19, four children would still have a mother and a former first round pick that once carried a 3.5 GPA in high scho