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Agent Zero's Video Game Minions

Just talked to Dave Walsh, aka Walshy, one of Gilbert Arenas's sponsored video gamers. Walshy is the 22-year-old captain of Final Boss, a former student at Grand Rapids Community College who now makes well into the six figures and hangs out with NBA superstars because he's bloody good at video games. He fully realizes that this is slightly weird, but he's not complaining.

(Before I go further, if you haven't yet, please read Michael Lee's pitch perfect blog item on Gil from yesterday. Gil, as he's done several times this preseason, insists that he doesn't understand why people think he's quirky. Michael Lee and Brendan Haywood try to explain. Great stuff.)

(Walshy, as an Arenas employee, was very diplomatic when I asked whether he believed Gil to be quirky.

"You know, I don't think anyone's 100 percent normal," he said.)

(Also, rival blogger Ivan Carter and I will be front and center at the Wizards hoo-hah tonight, at which they're debuting their new alternate road jerseys in a fashion show featuring players and family members. This event has the potential to change my life. And having seen Jeffrey's win in last night's "Project Runway" finale--an event that a WaPo sportswriting colleague told me brought him more joy than any sporting event he's seen in the past decade--I feel uniquely qualified to cover the Wiz Fashion Show.)

Anyhow, Walshy. He and the fellow Final Bosses, as has previously been mentioned, were introduced to Gil through Red Bull, one of the team's other sponsors. They met when Gil was in L.A. filming a commercial, and they convened together in front of a video game screen. Gil was impressed with their skills. Final Boss was...well...

"Compared to tournament players, he's not so good, but for an NBA player I'd say he's very good," Walshy said. "You really do have to put a lot of time into it, and he really can't put as much time into it, because he has a basketball career."

(Walshy, for example, spends 30 to 40 hours a week working on his virtual game before big tournaments. So what would happen if he faced off against Gil? "It'd be kind of like me trying to play him in basketball," Walsh said. "It wouldn't be pretty." But the Final Bosses regularly meet Gil online and offer him helpful hints for improving his game.)

Anyhow, Gil heard that Final Boss had a million-dollar sponsorship deal and originally wanted to buy out their contract and own the team, but instead he decided on this sponsorship plan, in which each team member gets a few thousand dollars a month from Gil, plus some fringe benefits.

Like, Adidas jackets and Adidas pants and seven pairs each of customized Adidas sneakers that play off their Halo nicknames and their Halo symbols. Walshy's symbol, for example, is a wasp, and so he has images of wasps on several of his customized sneakers. Gil has promised that more goodies are on the way.

Plus, he flew down to Orlando and hung out with Final Boss at a tournament. They went to an arcade at a Friday's and put down some money on a basketball shooting game. Gil won. They also went to a Denny's and rolled up a tab of $60 or $70, and then Gil dropped a $100 bill as a tip and the waitress came running out of the restaurant to thank him. ("You can tell the guy's down to earth; he's happy to help other people," Walshy said.)

Plus, he's flying the Final Bosses out to D.C. for the Wiz home opener, even though Walshy admits he's a Pistons fan.

Plus, he's flying Walshy's girlfriend and relatives out to Vegas for a big tournament ($100k grand prize) next month, a tournament that the team is gearing toward.

Plus, like any true 21st century important NBA-type person, Walshy is also launching a clothing line, Kiaeneto, which he describes as like Hurley for video gamers.

Anyhow, I asked Walshy whether it was a greater thrill to get their million-dollar contract with Major League Gaming, or their more modest deal with Gilbert.

"I mean, Gilbert's something that money can't buy: a cool guy that's willing to help us in any way possible," Walshy said. "He's this huge superstar that millions and millions of people know, but he just treats you great. He's really nice. I don't know, it's weird. You expect a movie star, but he just acts like a normal guy."

So there you go. He is normal.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 19, 2006; 4:08 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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