Gilbert Confronts a Heckler
So after talking to the Sixers scum guys (see below), I heard another loud Sixers anti-Gilbert heckler, wearing a pony tail and heckling from the second row near mid-court. I went down to chat at halftime, but he was gone. Instead, I met Irv "Flash" Block, who's been heckling people from the front row for 55 years.
"Who the hell's Gilbert?" he asked when I said I was looking for the heckler. "You should write about me, Flash. I was here before Wilt."
(Why is he called "Flash," you wonder? "In my neighborhood, you were flash or you were dead, right?" he told me. "North Philadelphia. Half my high school graduating class is either dead or in jail, right?")
Since he was a longtime fan, I asked whether yesterday's opera-esque crowd was particularly quiet.
"Did you say 'quiet crowd'," piped up David Braverman, another STH. "There is no crowd. If there was a crowd, you'd hear it."
Good point. There were sections in the 100-level with probably 25 people. Anyhow, Irv told me that Red Auerbach used to order his players to kick him and spit at him, "because I was an ignorant little punk." I thought he was going to tell me that he's mellowed since then, but he proceeded to call Bob Cousy "the most arrogant [very bad word]." Gotta love Philly fans.
Anyhow, the second half started, and I left, and the pony-tailed heckler returned, and he was giving Gil the business about fighting with Eddie Jordan and about how his teammates didn't like him and about how he shoots too much, and with 7:05 left in the third quarter and Andray Blatche on the line, Gilbert walked over to the pony-tailed heckler and shook his hand.
"I wanted to know who was talking, just so I knew who to respond back to," Gilbert explained after the game. "You can't just say anything and just hide. I need to know who I'm talking to. I can't yell back "Hibachi!" [if] I don't know who I'm yelling back to."
Right. Anyhow, the pony-tailed heckler turns out to be Cary Berman, who has gotten into it with Adam Morrison and Karl Malone and Jerry Stackhouse, and who takes particular pleasure in goading players into a response, although not necessarily a handshake.
"I've got to tell you, I like him for that," Berman said. "To me, he's one of those players I can't stand. [Bleep], one of these me-first players that is interested in his own stats, not in his own team. That's how I view him. But I've got to tell you, I give him a lot of respect for coming over here to shake my hand. Maybe I'll like him now, you know what I mean?"
"He feels bad now because he was yelling at him," ventured his friend, Ro Taormina, after asking me whether my notes were in "shorthand or Hebrew."
"I don't feel bad, I don't feel bad at all," Berman disagreed. "I have changed many players' games. I changed Adam Morrison's game just last week."
"My theory is [Gilbert] came over here to shut him up," Taormina said. "And now he's not heckling him because he feels bad."
"I don't feel bad," Berman said.
"He was heckling him and now he's not," Taormina said.
"Will you shut up," Berman said.
"So it was good psychology on the part of Gilbert," Taormina said.
"HEY GIL!" Berman shouted.
"Here we go," Taormina said.
"We've got The Washington Post guy here doing an article," Berman shouted, at which point I sprinted away from his row as fast as I could and decided to stop interviewing hecklers.
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