If you haven’t read Jon Gold’s in-depth feature for The Action Network on Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, stop everything you’re doing and check it out now. It tells the real story behind the high-stakes card game that rocked the NBA back in 2009.
For the TL;DR crowd, here’s a quick overview of eight things we learned from the story.
1. Booray is a poker-meets-hearts card game that is a staple in professional sports locker rooms, airplanes and buses.
2. The game was legendary among the Big 3 of the Boston Celtics and has been the cause of several of the more well-known locker room skirmishes in NBA history. Memphis Grizzlies guards O.J Mayo and Tony Allen were involved in a fist fight over the game, with Allen landing a blow to Mayo’s face and body.
3. Jason Terry, not to be outdone, claims to have witnessed a hand of booray with a pot of $1.4 million. “Can’t tell you the players, can’t tell you the place, but it was the highest level of ‘Oh shit’ in my life,’” he said. “It was like, ‘I shouldn’t even be in this hand.’”
4. The game was also at the heart of the infamous feud between Arenas and Crittenton during their time with the Wizards.
5. The beef between Arenas and Crittenton started on a December 2009 team flight. Arenas joined a booray game midway through, which doubled the pot. His shit-talking aggravated Crittenton, who got stuck with a losing hand that cost him thousands.
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6. The back-and-forth between the two on the plane ended like this, according to Arenas: “I was like, ‘Javaris, I will burn your car, while you’re in it. Then we’ll find an extinguisher to help ya ass out,’ and he says, ‘Well, I’ll just shoot you then.’ I said, ‘Man, I’ll bring you the guns to shoot me!’”
7. Two days later both Arenas and Crittenton brought guns to the Wizards locker room. Both Arenas and Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the season; Crittenton never played in the NBA again and Arenas, who was then one of the best players in the NBA, was out of the league two years later.
8. To this day, Arenas maintains that the story has been misreported for almost a decade, and that it was never about a financial debt, but about bravado and trash-talking.