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Pistol Pete vs. Gilbert

Seriously, I didn't come up with the idea to use the publication of these two new books about Pistol Pete as justification for yet another Gilbert post. Seriously. Other people started it. The New York Press explicitly compared Maravich's brand of fun with Gilbert and Steve Nash, and one of the new book's authors, former NY Daily News columnist Mark Kriegel, went there himself:

Dime is my new favorite, as this issue's cover features Gilbert Arenas, a basketball punk himself just a couple of years ago. I mean no disrespect to Arenas'game, but I have always had a great affinity for flakes and chuckers. Arenas' qualifies on both counts. He maintains oxygen levels in his home that approximate mile-high conditions. He's an aficionado of infomercials. He's also averaging better than 30 points a game. And while that's all well and good, I wasn't much for Gilbertology, as it's called, until last year when I read of his desperate quest for an autographed Pete Maravich jersey.

(In truth, there's been quite a lot written on this quest. For example, read Chris Tomasson from the Rocky Mountain News, after Gil's 60-point game:

Arenas has a collection of nearly 400 autographed jerseys. When asked which 60-point scorers he has, he said nearly all, including deceased stars Chamberlain and George Mikan.

But he doesn't have one from Pete Maravich, who died in 1988. Maravich scored 68 for the New Orleans Jazz against New York on Feb. 25, 1977.

"I've got to get Pistol Pete, but it's hard," said Arenas, noting Maravich didn't do much signing and one jersey he once saw was advertised for about $150,000.

Fred Barnes had a slightly different take on the matter, writing that Gilbert "was eager to buy a "Pistol Pete" Maravich jersey but balked at the $100,000 price tag." The NYTimes had a third spin last year, quoting Gilbert saying "Pete Maravich is the hardest one, I can't find that one.")

So anyhow, I just talked to Kriegel, who's in D.C. for his book tour. ( He's signing books at the Adidas store on Wisconsin Ave. from 6-8 tonight )

He was a bit skeptical of the $150,000 price tag--"maybe if it was signed by God," he said--but he's all about the journey. He cautioned me several times not to make too much of this Gil-Pistol comparison, and so I won't, but let's quickly review four similarities.

1) Strong father figures. Gil was raised by his dad. Pistol's father Press decided to offer up his son, almost like a sacrifice, to the Gods of Basketball. This involved creating a profile of the perfect basketball prototype, consulting with Eastern European mind doctors, studying the moves of Hawaiian ball handlers, etc.

2) They both sorta liked to practice. Pistol dribbled until his fingers bled. Gilbert shoots late at night, especially when CSTV bloggers are around.

3) As Kobe might say, neither man is necessarily defined by a discerning eye for quality shots. Gil is averaging 21.8 shots per game, third in the league behind 'Melo and Iverson. Pistol averaged 21.3 shots per game in the pros, and something like 38 shots per game at LSU.

"Part of being a great scorer is the ability to hit terrible shots," Kriegel said. "That was a virtue that Pete had in abundance, and Gilbert has it too."

(He also said that Pistol's "most aesthetically pleasing moments" were fast-break passes, which you probably wouldn't say about Gilbert; and that his LSU career was four years of desperate striving for NCAA records; and that Pistol never had the teammates Gilbert has, but we'll ignore those facts for now.)

4) They both are known for being, you know, weird. Gilbert's eccentricities are well-documented; Kriegel attributes his popularity to "the combination of his being a great chucker and his exquisite quirkiness." And check out this passage from New York magazine's review of Kriegel's book:

[Pistol] painted TAKE ME on his roof to attract passing UFOs. He once lived for 25 days entirely on fresh-squeezed juices. He got drunk before big games, cried when he lost, and drove his alligator-skin-topped car 100 mph through downtown New Orleans. Eventually, he turned into an alcoholic insomniac shut-in who devoured survivalist magazines, played Pong for five hours at a time, and fantasized about becoming invisible so he could "kill the heads of all the rich banking families."

5) Wait, that was kind of depressing. Forget that. I'm adding a fifth similarity, which is that both are major YouTube stars. Gilbert has his DeShawn moment (270,000 views and climbing), and Pistol has tributes galore, including one I saw on Bog friend DWil's site. See below.

Anyhow, maybe Gilbert will one day wind up with a Pistol jersey, even if it costs him six figures.

"I hope that his quest ends well," Kriegel said of Arenas. "He deserves it man. He deserves to be blessed by the god of the chuckers."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 13, 2007; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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