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The Fans the Wiz Deserve: No. 3

Actually, these were the guys that started me thinking about The Fans the Wiz Deserve. See, if was halftime last night. Gilbert had, I believe, 13 points. And I saw these two kids in the second row wearing towels around their necks. One had sunglasses on, despite a notable lack of sun inside the arena. And their sign, which they were thrusting in the air, said "Gilbert Drops 82." Maybe it'll happen one day, I was thinking, but odds are it won't be on a night in which he scores 13 (I believe) in the first half.

"We write it every night," explained Ross Leonhart, a high school senior at Glenelg in Howard County. "We saw Kobe score 81, and we know Gilbert's better.....Honestly, he's up there with Kobe. I think he's coming for M.J."

"If we ever need him to score 82, he'll get it," said Ross's friend, the sunglassed Billy West, another Glenelg senior. "Do you think Gilbert will get MVP? If the MVP voting was right now, he deserves it."


Ross (left) and Billy. Don't ask me how they got these second-row tickets. (By Sports Bog)

[Note: What's with the high school seniors and the Bog? In the past 24 hours, I've written on Paper Bag Head (Fairfax High), The Wizard (North Stafford) and now the Drops 82 Guys (Glenelg), all high-school seniors. It likely says something about my maturity level that I go to sporting events and write about the high school seniors sitting in the stands.]

Anyhow, I asked the Drops 82 Guys what else they've written their slogan on. They've made posters at home. They've written it on Wizard hand-outs. They've written it on napkins. Last night it was on the back of the Gilbert Donut poster.

"Just whatever's available," Ross said. "We're kind of just winging it, you know?"

Yesterday, you'll note, was a particularly exciting night for the guys. First, they had a nice chat with Michael Ruffin, who might be Ross's second-favorite player "because he's just such a Wizards guy," he said. Ross has been trying to find a 51 Ruffin jersey for ages, but has had no luck. So yesterday, with Ruff in street clothes, Ross asked for advice.

"He said, 'Let's see when I get healthy,'" Ross reported. "You think I'll get it?"

Dunno, Ross. But later on in the evening I asked Ruff about the dearth of purchasable Ruff jerseys.

"I haven't seen 'em," Ruff said. "I went to NBA City and ordered some, but I never got them. Everybody asks me for them; friends, family. All I have is the game ones."


Who wouldn't want one of those 51's? (John Froschauer - AP)

C'mon, NBA marketing people. Give us our Ruff jerseys.

Anyhow, in addition to the Ruffin conversation, Ross and Billy also scored towels from Gilbert, who tossed them a pair after pre-game warmups.

"Oh, we're wearing 'em to school tomorrow, we're rockin' them to school," Ross assured me.

"This is the night of our lives, yo," Billy said.

(Like virtually everyone I meet at these games, they also wanted to know if I had any free stuff I could give them. The only thing I could think of was these two t-shirts I had from Howie the Hype, but I had promised Howie to deliver the shirts to Gilbert. They were the classic "If no one votes for me I'm not going to do anymore blogs" shirts, which Howie made after Gil asked for some on his blog. In another fit of public service, I delivered the shirt and scored Howie an exclusive photo. It actually made me feel a little too close to being one of those media guys who asks for an autograph for his sister's friend's kid (just this once!), but since it involved blogging, I figured it was ok (just this once!). And for the record, I had two shirts, one for me and one for Gil, but Gil wanted both, so I gave mine up. "Whaddya think he wears when he's here shooting by himself at night," a team employee told me.)

Anyhow, I asked the Drops 82 Guys what they would do if Gilbert really ever Dropped 82.

"Oh my God," Ross said.

"We'd be on the court," Billy said.

"Yeah we would," Ross said.

"I would go crazy," Billy said.

"The media will be like, 'Oh my God, he scored 82,' and we'll be like, 'We had the sign, we called it,'" Ross said.

"We know it's going to happen," Billy said. "We'll make a sign every day until it happens."

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 11, 2007; 4:31 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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