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Gilbert vs. Durant (in video games)

(Update: Please read to the bottom for D.C. United-related Gilbert news.)

So anyhow, after talking about how he would have no problem beating Gilbert in video games, Kevin Durant strolled to the back room of the barbeque joint last night to test his claim. His mom had already come back earlier in the night, hugging Gilbert and calling him "sweetie." Trying to make him lower his guard, I guess. Smart family.

When Durant showed up, WaPo colleague David Betancourt had just sat down to face off against Gilbert. Betancourt was now asked to forfeit his seat and his controller in favor of Durant.

"Hopefully Greg Oden will walk in here the next time I sit down," Betancourt noted.

Anyhow, Durant was the Suns, because that was the team on the screen. Gilbert was the Wizards, and he was grinning, sure that victory would be his.

"You know what I do," he said to the gathering mob. "This is what I do."

On Durant's first possession, the Suns were charged with an offensive foul.

"You can't do that," Gilbert told Durant. "This is the NBA, not college."

He kept chattering, telling Durant not to give up on plays, advising him to double-team virtual Gilbert, telling the crowd how he was spotting Durant a lead, but in truth, things weren't going very well. The Durant Suns took a 9-3 lead. Soon, it was 19-8. Then it was 25-13.

"I think my hot spot is off," Gilbert said, but he wasn't talking much by this point. Virtual Gilbert missed a long-range shot.

"They don't have my distance on here," he complained. "You know I can shoot from the half-court area, right?"

I don't think anyone answered. Durant began some quiet fist pumps, some quiet celebrations with his dad, even a few hand slaps.

"He's been training for this all his life," his dad said. "He plays this game all the time. He played last night."

The Suns kept dunking on the Wizards, and the lead stayed in double figures. "I just don't have dunkers on my team," Gilbert said, accurately. "Let me do what I do best," he continued, and launched yet another Arenas three-point attempt.

It felt like one of those hopeless games this season, when things got out of control and the Wiz just began chucking randomly. I was ready to go back to the Verizon Center media room and see if there were any more ice cream sundaes. Somewhere, a virtual Unsilent Majority and a virtual Nate Rose were heckling the virtual refs, out of boredom. The three-point attempt missed.

"I've got the fatigue on," Gilbert said of virtual Gil. "They know I'm not in shape."

With the game out of hand, Gilbert scrolled up and down the Wizards' bench, looking for help. And good luck with that. Finally, he put in Jarvis Hayes, moved Jamison to center and benched Haywood, trying to add some three-point shooting, but it was way too late. A photographer took some shots.

"Taking more pictures of me losing," Gilbert said.

"Killing him dawg," Durant said.

The final tally was 42-29 (they were just playing a half). The mob dispersed.

"I thought he was supposed to be a gamer," Durant told me. "I just killed him. He was nothing. I just killed him. Look at the score."

"He's been here since 4 o'clock, you know what I'm saying? So he's been playing. He kind of caught me off guard," Gilbert said. "I'm not embarrassed, because once I get the game home I'm going to spend 8, 9, 10 hours on the game. So next time he plays me online...."

But what else can the veteran say when the young kid has exposed him, when the new star has ascended? Things change so fast in sports, you know? This was my first look at Gilbert at aged 33, playing spot minutes, coming off the bench for a playoff team maybe, still talking, but his mouth now advanced past his skills. I told Durant about Gilbert's excuse.

"He's supposed to be a gamer," Durant repeated. "He's supposed to adjust to that. I'm 5-0 today. I ain't lost."

Sad, really.

(By about 8 or so, Durant and his agent and family members had decamped to the front of the barbeque joint, where they spent a good 15 minutes talking on cell phones and whatnot. A few passersby recognized him and snapped a few photos. Of course, at least one passerby, Jefferson High graduate Robert Chung, recognized me, so merely being recognized was no great feat.

Some people smoking outside of Jake's Saloon next door asked me who the tall guy was. I said it was Durant. "[Expletive], he's a big kid," one of the guys said, in an Irish accent. "Who's Kevin Berand?" his friend asked.)

(Sam Rubenstein at SLAM also has some Gilbert-Durant video game play-by-play. )

(Here's the press release announcing that Gilbert and Oden signed with Spalding.)

(Dime Magazine also has a write-up, in which Gilbert says he's going to start training with D.C. United. I can't get that guy to stay away from my turf. First the almost-Fedora, now this? Actually, some birdies had whispered to me about this weeks ago, but I was supposed to keep it quiet. Thanks, Dime.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 27, 2007; 11:59 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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