Waiting for Gilbert
I got to the NBA Store in Midtown around 6:05 last night. I had been told Gilbert was supposed to arrive around 6:00 for a VIP reception. The NBA PR people didn't know about this. There would be no champagne, they assured me. No reception.They told me Gil was running a little late and should arrive around 7.
In the meantime, I was encouraged to mingle with fans. The first fan I mingled with turned out to be from Washington. Jean Mays. She told me she reads the Washington Times. I interviewed her and her family, who were all very nice and had lots of Wizards gear for Gilbert to sign. Her 13-year-old daughter, Janelle, was wearing one Gilbert jersey and carrying another; she likes Gil because he plays point guard, just like her. Then I gave her father, Chris Mays, a little print-out with my blog address, which I carry around to make up for the sometimes hard-to-find blog placement on this Web site. He wasn't impressed with the print-out. "Are you sure it's The Washington Post and not The Olney Post?" he asked. That was about enough mingling with fans for me.
Gil's Gil-Zero shoes were prominently displayed upstairs, both the white-blue-and-orange Gil-Zero and the black-and-metallic-gold Gil-Zero, which I had never before seen. The shoes are exclusively available at the NBA Store for the next 10 days. After that (Dec. 15), the shoes will be available nationwide, for $90. There were mannequins wearing Wizards jerseys and Gil-Zeroes, and a few posters featuring Gil, plus some fans wearing Wizards clothes. Not many, though.
Around 6:35, the emcee announced that all the tickets for autographs, which required a $10 purchase, had already been distributed. "But still, take this opportunity to see a Real NBA Player in person," he urged us. "Get pictures! Get merchandise!"
There were also lots of foreigners. "Washington Wizards!" an NBA Store employee attempted to get across to one foreigner.
Soon after, I met Matt Ufford, aka WithLeather, aka Captain Caveman, aka someone whose various blogs get way more hits than mine. I convinced him that we should wait outside, so we could get the money shot of Gil entering the store. It was about 6:40. And it was cold. For the next hour or so, we watched 7,000 city buses roll by, and 43 million tourists doing their Fifth Avenue Christmas shopping, and lots of bicycle-drawn modes of transportation, none of which were carrying NBA superstars. We watched the little red Cartier jewel box open and spew cheerful music every 15 minutes, on the dot. We videotaped me feigning extreme impatience. I kept ducking into the store to make sure Gil hadn't snuck in some back entrance. During one duck-in, I asked what method of transportation Gil would be arriving in.
"Helicopter," an NBA employee assured me. "It's gonna be sick."
"You need some gloves," another NBA employee told me during another duck-in. "We have NBA gloves."
Around 7 p.m., peerless Wizards PR whiz Zack Bolno told me the team flight had been delayed by an hour, hence the delay. He said they were within four or five blocks of the Store. Unfortunately, he didn't tell me they were traveling via three-legged camel.
Around 7:17, four fans gave up. "We're giving up," Brian Hester said. "We're going to see the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree's bigger than [Gilbert]. We're Knicks fans, anyhow."
Around 7:27, an Important Person waiting at the side entrance received word that Gil and friends were stuck in traffic at Radio City Music Hall, just a few blocks away. "What's his exact location," the Important Person asked. Three security guards were dispatched to retrieve Gil from traffic. I convinced Captain Caveman that we should follow. I was sure this would be bloggable. We all walked off, briskly, down 51st Street, in search of Gil.
Around 7:32, the security guards received word that Gil was already inside the NBA Store. We all turned around and walked back.
"Nice little workout, there," a security guard said.
"Maybe we can still see the jewel box open again," Captain Caveman said.
To be cont....
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