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Gilbert Talks About Tahitian Islands and the Draft

Last night, Gilbert Arenas and Kevin Durant were available for an endless series of one-on-one interviews at Righteous Urban BBQ on 23rd Street in Manhattan. Since I was there, I queued up for a one-on-one interview with Gilbert. The place was thick with scruffy young white guys carrying notebooks and wearing nice sneakers. Gilbert was interviewed by chaps (and the occasional female equivalent) from SLAM,, ESPN the Mag, SI for Kids, Spin, Fuse, (which is why I'm guessing Gil's blog will be updated today, if you know what I'm saying), some gamer publications, and several thousand more outlets, which means that Gilbertology is going to be busy today. Actually, more than 60 media members RSVP'd, whether to check out NBA Live '08 or to eat barbequed pig, I could not say. Unbelievably, there were no rogue interns from the Wizznutzz.

Anyhow, from my few minutes with Gilbert, here's what I learned.

He's signing a four-year endorsement deal with Spalding, starting today

Gilbert said that he and Greg Oden are both signing with Spalding, and that the deals would be announced today. I pointed out that partnering with Kevin Durant and Greg Oden on consecutive days wasn't a bad idea. "I'm in the young nucleus," Arenas agreed.

He wants to buy an island

You'll recall that he just got back from a vacation in Tahiti. I asked what he did there.

"Everything," he said. "I swum with sharks, sting-rays, parasailing. A lot of stuff wasn't supposed to do. I just enjoyed myself, family vacation. You know the island [residents], they're so together, I've never seen anything like it. They have no drugs, no weapons, no crime. They've never had a murder.

"If someone comes to town, everyone knows you. Everyone owns land. There's no poor people. They said if you see a poor person in Tahiti, in that country, they're rich somewhere. So they own a few hundred acres somewhere, they own an island, but they'd rather work somewhere else. You'll see someone on the side of the street, poor? They're not poor. They own the city, they own stuff."

I just didn't have the time to ask follow-ups, although Lord knows the situation demanded it. A kind EA Sports person was over my shoulder, making sure that I cleared out in time for the reporter from, or whatever. So, moving on, I asked Gilbert if he planned to go back to Tahiti.

"Yes," he said. "I want to buy an island. Because Diana Ross has an island. Marvin Brando had an island."

"Who?" I said.

"Marvin Brando," Gilbert said. "Marvin Brando? Wasn't he the actor?"

You can make fun if you want, but I'm not, because at least 173 cultural references by members of the Wizards went over my head this year, and first names aside the Brando piece of information is true, and the real question is, hold on, is Gilbert seriously going to buy a Tahitian island, and how much would that cost?

"I would say I'm thinking about it," was the answer to the first part, and "a million dollars" was the answer to the second. "I'm just thinking about it," he continued. "Like, a million dollars, to own a whole island and do whatever you want on it?"

"Like what?" I wondered.

"Vacate," he said, justifying my multi-hundreds-of-dollars hotel room with just one word. "Whenever you go on vacation, you'd go there and just chill. Hit the beach!!!"

DeShawn Stevenson has already shaved off his mohawk

Apparently he's going to the BET Awards, and he has to look presentable.

Either Gilbert's definitely going to sign a long-term deal with the Wiz after next season, or he isn't

I'm not trying to get the Wiz PR team agitated, but since I hadn't seen Gilbert for a while, not since the whole contract kerfuffle, I asked him to estimate the chances that he would end up staying with the Wizards.

"I mean, there's a hundred percent chance," he said, again suggesting that the whole flap was overblown. "I became a max player, and the reality is if I extend, I lose roughly 70 to 80 million dollars, but if I sign my deal I get full what I'm worth, 100 percent."

I asked if he really meant there was a 100 percent chance he'd be back.

"I mean, if they go backwards then I'll leave," he said. "If they take a big step back. You know, it's time to win now. I've made the playoffs, I went to the first round, I went to the second round, I need to make some progress here."

In case you need help translating, he said nothing here he hasn't said before. Just wait until next summer, because anything else is pure guesswork. Or we could all just keep asking him what he's going to do for the next 12 months, which is the more likely scenario.

He has no players targeted for Thursday's draft

When I asked what the Wizards should do tomorrow, he gave the same answer he's given in the past.

"Depends what they do with the rest of the players.," he said. "It depends if you're bringing back Jarvis, if you're getting rid of Jarvis, if you're trading Brendan, if you're not trading Brendan, if you're trading Etan, if you're bringing back DeShawn. It depends on what you're doing. But I feel personally that we need another scorer coming off the bench, so we don't have that dead feeling when Eddie puts in a whole new five guys."

Although he admitted he's been out of the loop since going to Tahiti, so he said he's just worrying about his knee and not about the draft.

He won't be watching one moment of the coverage tomorrow night

I think he's said all this before, but it still resonates. Every single interaction the man has with professional basketball is seen through the prism of the 2001 draft. For example, this would burn his soul: of the 15 all-NBA players this spring, more were drafted in spots 9-13 (four) than in spots 4-8 (three). That right there ruins the draft for Gilbert.

"I hate drafts," he said. "I hate drafts. I don't believe in them. They're false. When they're calling players out, 1 to 16, the top 16 players, the best 16, if they don't go in the first 16 picks, that is not reality. You can't pick the 17th best player 3rd or 4th or 5th. There's no guessing, like, 'Oh, this team needs this player so they need to go after the 10th-best player.' No. The third-best player should go third, the fourth-best player should go fourth. That's how an NBA draft should be.

"Then you won't have players like Kobe Bryant going [13th.] There should be no "geniuses." GM's, they shouldn't be called "geniuses" for finding a talent at 16. No.... Like last year, they said 'Brandon Roy's gonna be rookie of the year, Brandon Roy's the best player in this draft.' Why is Brandon Roy going seventh, eighth, ninth? If he's the best player, he should go 1, 2, 3. Period. That's just reality. So it's not a fluke if he wins rookie of the year. If you said he was rookie of the year, he's rookie of the year. That means you think he's the best player.

"I haven't watched the draft since the day they called me 31. I have not watched it since, and I won't watch it. I won't. I'll be playing video games. The draft is bogus."

He wasn't interesting in trying deep-fried Oreos

"I'm on a diet," he said. "Water and salad. I've got 90 days to become Superman."

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 26, 2007; 11:57 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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