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Gil's New Tattoo

Because I now take my assignments not from any editors but from anonymous e-mailers and deranged Eastern European-obsessed cheeseboot bloggers, I went to the Wiz game last night not to stare at Nick Rimando, but to obey my Wizznutzz masters, who sent me this cryptic mission:

steinz!! we know we have you on many assiignments to procur topsecret information, but here's another -- and the promise of more bacon (you like Canadian?) if you can figure it out. so next time gil comes out of shower, can you sketch his beautiful body and send it our way? but that's not the assignment: What's the new tattoo on Gil's neck? it sjust below tanktop neckline, as pictured on wntzdotcom, but it's all too fuzzy to read. can you go up with magnifiying glass and study? thsnaks you!!!!!

What, no obscure Finnish-poets-slash-interns were around this week? Steve Buckhantz is no longer a puppet to your every imagined whim? Anyhow, the problem is, waves and waves of media people invade Gil's corner of the locker room after games, and while I could see massive tattoo scripts all over his back last night, I didn't get a great look.

"Family is a [something or other]," the massive tattoo said. And I'm not the world's best sketcher.

So I waited while Antonio Daniels gave serious answers to serious basketball questions, and while Gil interrupted to tell A.D. that he sent his shoes to the suit man and asked the suit man to make a suit out of the shoes, causing A.D. to express mock outrage. This sounded like a reference some Dylan or Strindberg lyrics or something, which might or not have been the case, but that'll have to be explored on another day.

Anyhow, A.D. answered a few serious basketball questions, and then the hordes approached Gil.

"Man, I wish I got asked questions like that," Gil said. "I get questions about pasta--'What do you like to eat?'"

People tried to ask Gil questions, but then he saw DeShawn Stevenson.

"Man, I actually forgot you was out there tonight," Gil said to DeShawn.

"Two quarters," DeShawn said, referring to his paltry 24 minutes.

"Hey, is that why we won?" Gil asked.

Then the horde was told that Antawn Jamison was leaving soon, so the horde briefly left Gil alone, but then he became consumed with his stat line.

"Y'all just throwing turnovers my way," he complained to one of the team's PR staffers. "'Who turned it over? Gilbert did.' Y'all don't do that with assists. If it's a turnover, you best believe I get it. I used to watch John Stockton; if he passed the ball and the guy took 10 dribbles, he's still getting an assist. If I pass the ball and the guy takes two dribbles and pulls up, I'm not getting an assist. Why is that?"

The horde returned, and finally, he answered questions, very Parcells like:

"We started off rough last season," he said. "We started off rough at the beginning of every season. You know, it's not where you start; it's where you finish."

Also, he remains frustrated with the officiating:

"It's frustrating, period, just the way the game is being played now," he said. "It's not consistent, I don't think, with calls and the way the game sways back and forth, but as long as we hang in there, you know, by the time the middle of the season kicks in, the rules will be back to what they used to be and we can play basketball again."

He elaborated on this later, to a second, larger horde, when he was asked about his turnovers.

"I'm not paying attention to them," he said. "It's like [officials] are looking at the wrong things now. Truthfully, the beginning of the season's always like that.....I can't wait 'til January hits, so I can get those ticky tacks, get to the line 19 times."

He was getting ready to walk out, but then a PR guy told him something, and he headed back to his locker. "Y'all want to see something great?" he asked. And he pulled out a copy of Sports Illustrated from Feb. 9. 1976, in a plastic sleeve, featuring Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld on the cover. "Double Trouble From Tennessee," the headline said. Someone suggested that Grunfeld looked sorta like Barry Manilow in the photo.

Point being, Gil is now supplementing his massive uniform collection with a growing SI cover collection. He's getting 'em from "a guy in Detroit" who supposedly has every SI cover, ever. The "guy in Detroit" has also given Gil a Wilt cover, and several others.

My spirit was sapped by this point, but I finally got Gil alone for a moment. Official investigative journalism dialogue follows:

Me: Did you get a new tattoo?
Gil: No.
Me [Playing coy]: Some people told me you got a new tattoo, on your neck or back or something.
Gil: Oh, a while ago.
Me: When.
Gil: Damn. [Thinking.] During the preseason.
Me: Oh, before the season?
Gil: Before the season.
Me: What's it say?
Gil: "Family is a haven in this heartless world."
Me: [Momentarily silenced]
Me: What's that mean?
Gil: Huh?
Me: What's that mean?
Gil [winking]: I don't know.

Nothing further to report, sirs. Awaiting your interpretation.

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 29, 2006; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Nick Rimando Hunt: Esky's Advice

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