Gilbert Says Wiz Are Better Without Him
Like everyone else in the world, I've said less-than-complimentary things about Gilbert at various points this season. But last night was just classic Gil. When the locker room opened before the game, he was lounging around and laughing and acting like a goof. I asked about his health, since this was clearly not his usual pre-game mood. "I'm done," he said. Then he began talking about whatever--"Harold and Kumar," for example. Then there was a pause. And then he spent 30 minutes with the media discussing his health, his blog, his knee tattoo and every other topic under the sun.
And then he went out there in his crazy yellow coat and cheered the team on, including a post-game leap. After the game, I told him I had gotten an e-mail during the game, praising the coat. And, I swear, he thought I meant I had gotten e-mails praising my plain gray Jos. A. Bank blazer. "Oh, really?" he said, of my blazer. No, silly; your yellow plaid coat.
Slate's Gilbert dis track made some strong points about Gilbert vs. LeBron, but I just go back to the two guys' signature moves. Gilbert throws his jersey to kids in the stands after the game is over. LeBron puts his hand in chalk, creates a theatrical puff, raises his arms and scowls before the game has even started.
Anyhow, here's how Gilbert described his role for the rest of these playoffs.
"You go out there and you cheer your team on," he said. "I'm just glad I got the opportunity to come and play in the playoffs, no matter what Skip Bayless says. No, that's ok," he said, laughing about talking head criticism. "It happens. You've got to take it like a big boy. I understand. I knew they were playing better basketball without me this year. But sometimes as a competitor, you want to go out there and play, too; you want to be a part of it. Sometimes your knee says, 'Hey, it's not your year.' "
He was asked about the reaction from his teammates; "they understand," he said. "I got an opportunity this year to play in the playoffs. I did I everything I can. I went out there, wounded and all, just to play in the playoffs. And it's my duty to go here and let these guys go ahead out there and just fight, put out some healthy bodies. We need healthy bodies to go out there and beat this team. I can't go out there hobbling, trying to help this team win, because at the end of the day it's hurting [the team]."
And he was asked whether he should have been playing at all on that knee.
"Hmmmm," he said, actually thinking about the issue. "You know, I don't know," he finally said. "One thing, I didn't want to look back here 10 years from now and say, 'Damn, I had a chance to play, and I didn't.' It's still the playoffs. There's still players in this league that haven't touched the playoffs."
Ivan Carter followed up, saying he also could be looking back 10 years from now like Grant Hill, staring at an injury that refused to go away.
"Yeah, you're right," Gilbert said. "Now I've got a chance to actually heal it before I did any big damage. But still, basketball is basketball, and at the end of the day when you look back, you're gonna say 'Hey, I went out there and gave it 110 percent.' "
I know, holding a 30-minute press conference right before an elimination game, talking about tattoos and the end of his season without even telling his coach he was done....it's still Gilbert being Gilbert. It's still all about him. But it's still bloody fun.
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