Gilbert Likes Contests
Gilbert Arenas hasn't played a game of competitive basketball in calendar year 2008, and his return date has been marred by more delays and more heartburn than Opening Night at the Ben's Chili Bowl stand, but in the meantime he's managed to perfect two other skills: finding his way into the first paragraph of game stories by saying bizarre and/or outrageous things in the pre-game locker room, and supervising contests. If the whole comeback thing doesn't work, you figure Publishers Clearinghouse has got to have a place for him somewhere.
The contest mania started with GilsArena, a site meant to "showcase the special talents of all kids and young adults." The most recent challenge: "Tell me in 500 words or less what being true to the game means to you." The prize: An upgrade to your neighborhood basketball court. The fine print: a modest 1,400 words. The winners included Nick Kendall of Baltimore, who wrote that "to be true to the game is to attack on and off the court, to pursue your dreams, abuse those who get in your way and to fight for every point until your legs quit before your heart can." No mention of what it means if your meniscus quits before your mouth can.
Next came Gazo the Pranksta, Gilbert's cartoon series that sought online voiceover talent from kids presumably drawn by the flawless prose of the site's terms and conditions. For example: "By submitting your recorded auditions or other material (collectively, "Material") to us through this website (the "Website"), and in consideration of our review of the Material to consider casting you in a voiceover role in our production currently entitled "Gazo the Pranksta" (the "Program"), and for other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, you automatically and irrevocably agree (or if you are a "minor" in your primary state of residence, your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) [collectively and individually referred to herein as your "Guardian"] agree) to the following terms and conditions set forth in this agreement (the "Agreement")."
That goes on for more than 2,000 words, if you can call them that.
And now, Gilbert and his corporate sponsors are asking the citizens of greater Washington for yet more creativity in their "Make it Rain" campaign. No, really, it's called "Make it Rain." "Without Gilbert there's been a drought so we need you to make it rain," goes the refrain, which then asks residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia to upload a one-minute video of their best basketball trick shot, with the winner getting a late-night shootaround with Gilbert, plus 12 cases of Vitamin Water. This promotion is supported by point-of-sale advertising, the "Glaceau tasting vehicle" (wrapped in Gilbert decorations) and more than 2,900 words of fine print, which reveal that the official judging panel will consist of "designated representatives of Sponsor and possibly Gilbert Arenas," and that the winner and a guest will be ejected from their Gilbert shootaround if they "engage in unruly, obnoxious, anti-social or otherwise inappropriate behavior."
Like, for example, making it rain, in the colloquial.
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