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Weekend of Gilbert

It's possible that no NBA player in a decade has had as awesome a non-Finals June weekend as Gilbert just concluded. He made national headlines for contract talk (he's leaving!), prompted a press release response from Team Wiz (we don't want him to leave!), spoke about homelessness at a Magic Johnson-headlined charity event (while making threes!) and then starred at a video-game tournament in the Meadowlands in which his team took home the title (final boss!). Let's recap.

Gilbert and his video gamers, during a successful weekend.

1) Hoops for the Homeless. Magic says that no one in the league can stop Gilbert, and that if they got a big man they'd be the favorites, presumably in the East. Yeah, and if LeBron James got a 1996-vintage Scottie Pippen, he wouldn't be down 2-0. Anyhow, in the celebrity-filled event, Gilbert is dubbed the No. 1 celebrity:

A slew of current and former athletes took the court [Saturday], but none heard as much clamor as Arenas. Even though an injury to his left knee kept him from playing, Arenas made one three-pointer after another to the exaltation of the crowd, which included homeless children.

2) The contract. A certain WaPo employee spoke to Gilbert at length on Thursday, but didn't choose to ask about his contract decision. (Me.) Then on Saturday, both to the Washington Times and the WaPo, he says he will opt out after next year so he can test the free-agent waters. Why wouldn't he? His quote to the Times is the best: "I'm not opting out to leave. I'm opting out to sign." I have no idea what that means.

Truthfully, this wasn't super surprising. Months ago, he told Mike Wise that if he was going to sign an extension, it would be on the last possible day, which wasn't a real promising sign. Still, this news prompts bloggers to go ga-ga (step away from the ledge, Shanoff), and leads fans to compare him to The Godfather. It also means that every single Wizards development for the next 12 months will be read through a prism of "how does this affect Gilbert's decision," which should be fun.

Finally, Ernie Grunfeld, perhaps prompted by the best PR staff in the league, releases a statement saying this is no big deal, and that everybody expected this all along, and that fans should cancel their plans to jump in front of Metro buses.

[2a) Before Gilbert leaves, you can get your Phenomenal Swag wallpaper at Bullets Forever.]

3) The video game tournament in N.J., which I couldn't attend. Gilbert does a Q&A with something called GotFrag in something called "the VIP Observation Booth" before the grand finale, between Gilbert's team (Final Boss) and its arch nemesis (Carbon). As far as I'm concerned, the interview's highlight is Gilbert's pledge to go to the future MLG events in Dallas and Chicago, allowing me to burn through my travel budget.

Also, here's a game story of the final. I don't understand a word of it, but the team referred to as "Gilbert's Boys" won, capping a remarkable weekend.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 11, 2007; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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