The Rest of the Party Bus Story
So, first of all, when I mentioned that Kisha Bailey at Prize Patrol Stop No. 1 wasn't willing to say the Wiz had saved Christmas, I didn't mean that as a shot at the Wiz. They weren't claiming they were saving Christmas. They were just showing up around town today giving a lot of people a lot of stuff, and posing for photos, and signing autographs, and wearing Santa hats. It's just a TV person wanted Kisha Bailey to say the Wiz saved Christmas, and Kisha Bailey wasn't going to say that.
Anyhow, the most important thing that happened today, in my estimation, came at Stop No. 4, but I'll have to get to that later, so lemme go back to Stop No. 1, since I missed this earlier: Antawn had two kids in his arms outside the apartment, and Abe Pollin was chatting with Kisha, and then they had to leave.
"Give the kids back," Santa said to 'Tawn. "You can't keep the kids."
"Goodbye, Christmas," one of the kids yelled. He was probably talking to Santa, but I'd like to think he was talking to 'Tawn. Or Abe.
"The Wizards have a lot of fans, but after today, no one loves them more than the Baileys," WJLA's Greg Toland said. "The Wizards have a lot of fans, but after today no one loves them more than the Baileys," WJLA's Greg Toland said. "The Wizards have a lot of fans, but after today no one loves them more than the Baileys," WJLA's Greg Toland said. (I guess TV needs a lot of takes. Bloggers, on the other hand, are always perfect.)
Then we left for Prize Patrol Stop No. 2. As mentioned earlier, this involved a police escort that I attempted to borrow. The Party Bus rolled up 295 and up Minnesota Avenue. Finally we came to the Douglas/Payne family residence. Kids materialized everywhere. They were especially interested in G-Wiz and Santa.
"Look, he a monster," one kid said about G-Wiz.
"No he's not," a woman said. "He's a good monster."
"Hey good monster!" the kid said. "He's a Big Bird, mommy."
Santa appeared. "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas, how are you, gimme a hug," he said.
"Are you the real Santa Claus?" the kid asked.
"Of course I'm the real Santa Claus," Santa said.
"You have a fake beard on," the kid said.
"My wife said I had to shave this morning so I had to shave, so I had to put the fake beard on," Santa said.
"What is this," the kid said, grabbing at Santa's moustache.
"That's a fake moustache," Santa said.
Then he held out his hands. "These are fake hands," he said.
I have this all on video, if you don't believe me. Anyhow, the Wizards also showed up, with their Santa hats, and they carried huge numbers of presents into the house, and Santa, who had earlier introduced himself as Ebenezer Scrooge, chased Michael Ruffin's three-year-old son Javon around the yard. "C'mere you little Ruffian," Santa said. "Gimme 5. Gimme 10. Gimme 1. C'mon, gimme 1."
Dorothy Douglas, of the Douglas/Payne family, then had a moment with Abe Pollin.
"God bless you," Abe said.
"I'm Mrs. Douglas, thank you for blessing me," she said.
"I'm proud of all our people who care about you and others," Abe said. They said a lot more stuff, too, and Ms. Douglas started crying, and they hugged. And someone else, Cinderella King, got lots of autographs.
"I don't know y'all names, but when my son gets home he'll know," she said. "Thank you all for what you do, this is so beautiful."
And Roger Mason claimed he made a better Santa than James Lang, which was just clearly not true.
"If he had that weight on maybe he'd have it," Roger said. "He lost all that weight."
And then Caron convinced the NBA photographer to hand over his camera, and Caron wandered through the crowd taking pictures of his teammates signing autographs. "I want to earn my money," Caron said before finally relinquishing the camera. The photographer took a look.
"There's...something there," he said of Caron's work, attempting to be nice.
"What do they say? It's more than the picture," Caron said.
Then the bus took off for Prize Patrol Stop No. 3, which I skipped, and I met them at Stop No. 4, where, as at every stop, a huge crowd immediately appeared, including several more TV crews and a bunch of fans.
"C'mon, everyone off the bus," Santa said.
"Santa, man, you're my favorite part of this operation," I said.
"Don't encourage him," a Wiz employee said.
I asked Santa about the team; "a few games to iron out the creases and we're on our way," he said. I asked about Gil; "I'm dumbstruck, he does things that no human being should ever be allowed to do," Santa said. A real hoops fan, this Santa.
Etan Thomas, on crutches, then led the parade of players into the house, and some Wizards fan outside shouted out their names. "There come Brendan Haywood!" they said. "Caron Butler! Look, that's the whole Wizards team! You need to get that ring, man! We need a championship. The coach!"
"Yeah, I'm here," said Eddie Jordan, who was carrying some sort of Elmo furniture and a whole bunch of presents. "I need another shooter. Who can shoot?"
And then the Wizards fans saw someone else; "Darvin Ham!" someone said!!!!
"Wait, did someone just say Darvin Ham?" I asked.
They were pointing at Michael Ruffin. His arms were filled with presents. I was trying to stop laughing. I asked if he's gotten that before.
"What, Darvin Ham?" he said. "Yeah. Yup."
"Why don't you tell them who you are?" I asked.
"They'll figure it out sooner or later," he said.
"Who keeps talking about Darvin Ham?" I asked the fans.
"That's my man!" one fan said. "You played for Duke, didn't you?" he asked Ruffin.
"I'm not Darvin Ham," Ruff said.
"Look like him," said the fan, who refused to give me his name. "Look like Darvin Ham, though. That's my mistake, though, that was my mistake. Damn. [Pause] We need a championship, though."
Then, after lots of gift-giving and thanks, Caron became best friends with a group of fans whose ringleader, a Mr. Allen, was calling him "Caron-ron." They all posed for photos.
"I told him every time he make a shot to tell people to call him 'Caron-ron Butler;' it sound more aggressive, like he ain't playing," Mr. Allen said. "Everybody else got a nickname. Gil's Agent Zero...."
"What????" I said.
"I heard 'Agent Zero' from, I think it was Channel 10--Comcast SportsNet--they called him that and I seen the jersey," Mr. Allen said. "So I assumed that was Gilbert Arenas, so my favorite player was Caron Butler on the Wizards so I said, 'He's the heart and soul, he need a nickname,' so I called him Caron-ron."
And since TV was there, here are your feel-good quotes:
Eddie Jordan: "This is the only time I can wear my hat and get away with it. But no....The whole community sees us; they see us come in, they come out and spread the joy and how they feel about us. It's good to be out in the neighborhood."
Antawn Jamison: "Coming up to different families and seeing the smiles on their faces, it gives you a good, warm feeling inside, and this is what the holiday season is about, so it makes it even more enjoyable for myself and my family as well. You kind of feel like Santa Claus a little bit."
Caron Butler: "I like this role; getting off the bus, going into houses and putting a smile on kids' faces. It's real big. It's heartfelt. I can't wait to go home and tell my wife about this."
Me: "Who's the best Santa on the team."
Caron: "James Lang. He's got the size. He's got the look.... [To a PR staffer: "Was that bad?"]
I missed most of Prize Patrol Stop No. 5, but I saw lots of kids outside the apartment, holding "Agent 0" t-shirts, and I couldn't stop thinking about how big the Wizznutzz apparently are in the Trinidad area. Same thing at Prize Patrol Stop No. 6, our only stop in Northwest, where some guys playing basketball at the nearby Scott Montgomery Elementary challenged the Wizards to come play five-on-five. I went to talk to them.
"I said come see me right here on Scott Montgomery, ok?" said one guy who called himself Marley. "I'm gonna bust the Wizards [bleep] right here. Yeah boy. Tell them bring their five right here. I'm gonna bust their [bleep]...Gilbert, get with [bleep bleep] LeBron and work on your free throws. Work on your free throws you [bleep bleep bleep]. And Antawn Jamison some [bleep], [bleep] North Carolina. What? Come see me [bleep], right here."
Marley was sort of playing for my video camera, but then I turned the camera off and the other guys were more serious. They wanted to play the Wizards in a fund-raiser for the playground.
"If we win, they've got to fix this up," Mohamed Fadika said, gesturing to the playground.
"Look at all this, it's cracked, that's not good for the kids," Joseph Grier agreed.
"Just tell 'em we'll have a fund-raising game; if they lose, they fix the court," Fadika said.
"What makes you think they're going to lose? They're NBA players," someone else pointed out.
"That's all we need is a fund-raiser, just to fix the court up," Fadika said. "Nothing else. Or a rec center."
"Not even a whole rec, just something nicer for the kids," Grier said.
By this point the Party Bus had rolled off, and G-Wiz had climbed into an SUV with tinted windows and seemed to be changing clothes in the back seat, and there were lots of kids roaming around with "Agent 0" t-shirts. I'd give it all about an A+.
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