The Fans the Wiz Deserve, Parts IV and V
In previous installments of this popular series, I've tried to gently suggest that, for a team as unique as these Wizards, it's comforting to know that their fans have followed suit; that, despite our reputation for being nothing but a bunch of suits, we actually have some real fan star power in our midst. And thus, in Parts I-III of this series, we met CQ, and Young Man Dressed as Wizard, and The Drops 82 Guys.
In a double dose today, I now present Double Jersey Man, and Merci Bien M'am.
The Wiz PR staff has figured out the sorts of things I write about, and so I was alerted to the fact that a man was watching the game last night wearing an XL blue Caron Butler jersey, directly on top of an XL white Gilbert Arenas jersey. Plus a D.C. United ski cap.
"I couldn't decide," 33-year old Bob Montcalm explained. "Actually, I have a third jersey at home, a Michael Jordan, but I can only wear two at once."
Fair enough. Although it turns out there's a more rational explanation. Bob went to the game with two friends, one of whom likes Caron Butler, so Bob brought the Caron jersey for the friend to wear, figuring the easiest way to transport it was on top of the Gilbert jersey he brought for himself. The friend, a Sixers fan, declined the offer.
"What am I gonna do with the other jersey if I'm not gonna wear it?" Bob argued.
And I have to admit, this seems to make some sense. Plus, Bob had vouchers for four photo ops with Wizards dancers but only three people in his party, so he himself posed for two pictures with the dancers; one in the blue Caron, and one in the white Gilbert. Maybe I wouldn't even have included Bob on the list of The Fans the Wiz Deserve, except mid-interview, DeShawn Stevenson made a shot, and Bob stopped talking in order to scream and wave his hand in front of his face, a la Stevenson. He told me DeShawn was actually his favorite player, so I asked why he didn't have a Stevenson jersey.
"I found these at Marshalls," he answered.
Again, fair enough. Anyhow, I proceeded from Double Jersey Man over to section 114, where I had an appointment to chat with Kim Lambert. Kim is a season ticket holder who sits in the front row and brings homemade signs to the VC. Last night's sign said "Merci Bien," which is not something you see in every NBA arena.
"I'm in a position to gauge the pulse of the players," she explained. "For example, if I bring my sign that says 'Wizards Just Do It,' it's to push their energizer button. I know they can see me. This sign is to show appreciation, that's the purpose of it. I have another one; whenever we play the elite teams, I bring my sign that says 'Virginia, Maryland D.C. Support the Wizards,' because I want to show that we're a united front."
Out of curiosity, I asked whether she was confident that the players understood her Merci Bien sign.
"They went to college, didn't they?" she sad. "Hopefully? Most of them? Isn't it a requirement to take a foreign language?"
Again, fair enough. Anyhow, in preparation for our appointment, Kim had brought along a copy of an order form that showed she had just ordered 45 tickets to the 2007 playoffs, going right through to the NBA Finals. She also brought a copy of a letter she wrote to Abe Pollin, dated June 7 2005. The letter starts thus:
Thank you so much for the wonderful gift that you have given to the Washington metropolitan area - The Washington Wizards. I would like to express my gratitude by taking the time to write a few of my thoughts to you.
Seriously, Kim is very grateful for the Wizards.
"It's the best relaxation you can get, the very best," she said. "It's a stress buster. You leave the office for two hours-plus, and you forget about the stress of life."
And I'm gonna bet that Kim's Wizards commute is probably different than the commutes of most NBA fans in the world. On weekends, she rides her new Trek bicycle from her Waldorf home to the Southern Avenue Metro stop (about 17.5 uphill miles), listening to Il Divo to get psyched up for the game. Then she takes the Metro to Ballston, showers at her office, gets dressed up (she always wears suits to the games), takes the Metro downtown, watches the game, then Metros back to Ballston, changes clothes, and bikes back to Waldorf, arriving home at 1 or 1:30 in the morning. She rides her bicycle to work on weekdays too, but still, this is dedication.
"...Now, when they go to the playoffs, you probably won't recognize me, because I wear my Indian headdress..." she said, but I figured this item was already plenty long enough.
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