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On Gil and Practical Jokes

Sadly, I had to go to my vault of last-week's tapes to find some playful Wiz dialogue, because let's be honest, it might be a while before everyone's all chipper again. I mean, the bad news is coming in waves: Etan and Brendan exchange blows again (and the morning after Etan was scheduled to appear in a poetry slam at Bohemian Caverns with someone named Brothas Keepa), Etan gets suspended, the AP attempts to make something of a quote from the Wizards strength coach about cocaine, Gil and Eddie Jordan trade barbs, Tom Knott manages to use the mayhem to take a shot at the WNBA (and calls the Wiz pitiful, pathetic, putrid, abysmal, painful and brutal), Wiz fans start siding with Kobe instead of Gil, SLAMOnline's Sam Rubenstein takes shot after shot at Gil and says he's "just another flashy high scoring, disposable fun personality."

Tough stuff. We will, undoubtedly, read much much more on how Gilbert's taken this whole "fun" thing too far, how the blimps and the bath tubs filled with coffee and the one-armed shooting competitions and the NBA blogs are distracting him from the work at hand. I guess columnists have to write those columns, but it strikes me as a lot of hooey. If the Wiz were having fun and their best player was acting like a nut when they had the best record in the East, why is it suddenly gonna become bad? Maybe it was bad from the beginning (for everyone except bloggers), but if so shouldn't people have been calling it bad back then? I mean, the Wiz still are who we thought they were; a team that has a zero percent chance of winning a title this year but that is two games better than at this point last season, could reach its stated goal (Eastern Conference finals) and will be entertaining in the meantime, on and off the court. Not so bad.

Anyhow, like I said, since it might be a while, here's something from last week. After I read that Gil had filled Andray Blatche's bathtub with coffee, I wanted some more details.

"Oh yeah," Blatche said when I asked if it was true. "Little prank he did. He just took the packet that was in the hotel and made coffee with it in the bathtub."

I asked how exactly one makes bathtub coffee.

"Just turn the water on," Blatche said. Right.

So it was instant coffee. Little disappointing. I was picturing an espresso machine duct-taped to the ceiling, or a coffee maker somehow rigged up behind the walls so that mocha latte spurts out of the shower head, to be accompanied by whipped cream, which Gilbert had (of course) substituted for Andray's shower gel. I asked 'Dre how one deals with coffee in the bathtub.

"Opened the plug and let it drain out," he said. (You'll note that he's not helping me make this entertaining.)

I wanted a fuller list of pranks. "I don't know, he pretty much messes with me and James [Lang]," Blatche said. "He did some stuff to James. He's been off me lately, though....He didn't bother me too much this year."

Blatche did give me one example of a prank Gil pulled last year, if throwing Gatorade bottles at a rookie's truck can be considered a prank. And he gave me an example of a prank Gil pulled on James Lang, which is really not worth repeating but was something that a middle schooler would definitely think was the funniest thing in the history of the world.

Anyhow, I asked James Lang how bad he's gotten it thus far.

"He haven't gotten me yet; he's planning it," Lang said.

I asked for specifics: "Turning my mattress inside out, putting water on my laptop and bedspread, making coffee in the tub, stuff like that," Lang said. "Go through all my clothes, take my bags, throw 'em everywhere."

Wait, turning the mattress inside out?

"Turning it on the opposite side," Lang clarified.

Still, I didn't see where this was such a bad prank. I mean, you're supposed to flip your mattress, right? Keep both sides from getting squished? Maybe Gilbert was just looking out for the health of Lang's back?

"He's gonna wet it, though; he's gonna put coffee on it, he's gonna make coffee and put it on it," Lang clarified again.

Dude's a coffee fiend. I guess this is to balance out all those donut pranks. Anyhow, I asked Lang if he were worried.

"No," he said. "I'm gonna get in my room before he do and just lock it."

See. You can look back on the days of James Lang promising to return to his hotel room early to lock the door and prevent Gilbert from going through his clothes and turning his mattress inside out and dousing it with coffee, and you can smile.

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 12, 2007; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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