Bernard King Incident Holds Parallels to Arenas', Only Without Actual Gun

With the Gilbert Arenas locker room gun drama at the height of its scandal, The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg, with some help from colleague Tom Boswell, recounts how it's possibly not the franchise's first involving a shooting threat, playful or not, by a star. ↵

↵In the heady Bullets days of early 1993, forward Bernard King (right), whose condition was not unlike Arenas' is now, was a star with a big contract extension coming off an extended absence from a knee injury. Apparently, though, King was ready to get back. In January of that year, King stormed into the office of then-coach Wes Unseld, demanding to be activated while refusing to take a physical. Were his demands not met, he vowed, King would become a distraction. He was turned down. ↵

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↵Where media reports are aligned is that during the next practice, King shot around by himself rather than joined the team for drills. There was heated confrontation between Unseld and King, with the player demanding that the team cut him. ↵

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↵Where it diverges somewhat is in the account by USA Today's Peter Vecsey, whose work for the New York Post has been a central and controversial part of the Arenas story. Vecsey reported this shocking statement was made by King during the fracas: ↵

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↵⇥''You're a thug. You always try to settle things with violence,'' ranted King. ''Don't ever (mess) with Bernard King. I'll come back with a gun ...' ↵
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↵While Unseld has never acknowledged the gun threat, the reference has continued to circulate over the years and was eventually confirmed by the Bullets then-GM John Nash years later. Nonetheless, late owner Abe Pollin left open the possibility of King returning in the weeks after he was suspended by the team for the incident in practice. But King eventually got his wish - a release from the club in late January. Whether that becomes the fate of Gil is unclear, but some of the similarities between his incident and King's is definitely uncanny. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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