Gilbert Thoughts, Part I: The All-Star Game
So in honor of our high-rollin' friends from the New York Times and Yahoo!!!!!!! Sports, this afternoon we were ushered into the weight room to speak with Gilbert. On the door of the weight room is a poster of Gilbert. Over the poster are out-of-date little player signs that are used to chart the team's strength and conditioning numbers. Here were the players on top of Gilbert's face: Anthony Peeler, Chucky Atkins, Jared Jeffries, Awvee Storey, Billy Thomas, Kevinn Pinkney, Peter Ramos and Mike Hall. Talk about motivation; Gil's face is blotted out by Chucky Atkins, of all people.
Then Gilbert talked for a long while. Some of the reporters were very excited to hear about Gil's MySpace page. Apparently they don't read blogs much. But he was typically brilliant, so I'll have to dole this out in pieces.
Part One. Reporters are asking Gil about his various motivations. I bring up the All-Star Game.
"What about it," Gil said.
"Does that matter?" I asked.
"I mean, if I make it I make it, if I don't, I don't," he said. "Same way every year. I can't force my hand, you know?"
I asked whom he'd vote for in the East.
"If I'm a fan? Then you go the way it is now: D-Wade, Vince, LeBron."
"Vince Carter?" someone asked.
"If you're a fan," Gil insisted. "I mean, I'm a fan. If I fill out a ballot, I'm voting Vince."
Fans vote for the big names, he explained. This is why he used to stuff the ballot box for Grant Hill and Penny Hardaway when he was a kid, even when they were past their primes. I asked for clarification on his youthful voting habits.
"Oh yeah," he said. "Because my best friends, one was an Allen Iverson fan, one was a Gary Payton fan, so it was like I had to out-beat them. So if their guy's gonna make it, my guy's gonna make it."
How many votes a year, I asked.
"To us it seemed like millions, but it was probably a hundred," he said.
Then he dropped the bombshell. (Or just repeated an old story, in case I missed this one.) He said during his first year in D.C. he gave two pairs of his shoes and a basketball to a sporting goods store in exchange for a whole box of all-star ballots. Then he filled them all out.
"I was like, 'I know I can be a starter," he said. "I was out there filling them out....Just a whole box. I was out there filling: me, Larry, Antawn, me, Larry, Antawn, me, Larry, Antawn, me, Larry, Antawn."
"I wonder if Yao Ming does that," someone said, jokingly.
"I heard there's players out there that do that," Gill said, non-jokingly. "Like, some of the guys who get voted in. Like, they paid the city to bring all the ballots. I heard back in the day they used to do that, too. It would be players, they used to have backpacks and they'd be pushing them in to Foot Locker. I heard it's always been like that. Like, old players would tell me, 'Yeah, what's-his-name used to do that, he'd be in his house and he's out there filling them out. His wife, his friends, he'd bring his friends down here, pay 'em, they'd be out there filling 'em out. Then there's just truckloads to the Foot Locker to make sure they still was there. I'm like, 'Oh that's funny. That is hilarious.'"
Posted by: Kenny | January 2, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse
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