Wale at the Caps Game
"I don't know who Wale the rapper is," Ted Leonsis said tonight, a few minutes after the Caps' shootout win over the Hurricanes.
"You will soon," his son, Zach, said.
"He's coming to hockey games now?" Leonsis asked.
"He's the one who raps about Ovechkin," Zach explained.
"Of course," Leonsis said.
So then Wale--the D.C. rapper and sports fan--met the Leonsises. Ted asked how he liked it. Wale promised they'd be seeing a lot more of him at the Verizon Center.
"Let's have a sit-down with Dan Snyder next," Wale said as we left. "We need to have an intervention with that dude, like, Stop wasting money!"
We all went down the hall and waited outside the locker room for Ovechkin to emerge.
"That [stuff] was crazy, dog," Wale said while we waited. "Towards the end, when we had only three players? Like, was your heart beating? Man, that was the slowest two minutes ever."
One of Wale's first Twitter updates from the arena was this: "im the only black person here." Now he was saying he'd become a regular, and promising to bring more fans from "around the way." So I asked if he really planned on returning for more hockey.
"That [stuff]?" he asked. "Dog, I'll be back....The shootout was so cliche, though. Oh, Ovechkin wins it, in a shootout, in overtime, the first hockey game I go to. Like, really? Sure. I could have told you that was gonna happen before I went."
Wale told us about his single "Chillin," which drops on Friday and features an appearance from Lady Gaga. He talked about his passion for D.C. sports, and the sad state of that passion in recent months. A few minutes later, Ovechkin came out.
"I heard you put my name?" Ovechkin asked.
"In like three songs," Wale said. "You got me a lot of new fans."
Ovechkin tried giving Wale a jersey, but it turned out it was blank. Alex then took it back and told a team employee to return it to Wale with 8 and Ovechkin. He left to finish dressing. Three songs with Ovechkin's name? I only knew of the one.
"But a lot of them are underground," Wale said. "It's my alias. Wale Ovechkin's my alias."
Heck, that's even his gamer tag: Wale Ovechkin. He'd never been to an NHL game, and only occasionally watches highlights on ESPN, but he knows who Ovechkin is, and what he represents.
"He's the [stuff]," Wale said. "I want to bring what he brings to hockey to my music. He's saving D.C. sports, ain't he? If Jason Campbell was to the NFL what Ovechkin is to hockey? There wouldn't be so many long faces on Monday mornings."
So, Wale's report on his first hockey experience: the intermissions were too long. There weren't all that many black faces in the crowd. But the result on the ice, he said, was something this town needs about now: the team unity, the way the Caps "bundle up" after goals, and the way they win. Take the Wizards, for example.
"I don't want to look like I'm a Wizards hater," he said, "because I'm the ultimate D.C. supporter. I just question their effort sometimes, especially when you see them out in the club after a loss. Why are they always out in the club?"
"They're heartbreak, man," he said. "The reason why on Mondays I sometimes don't even want to get up. I don't want to watch NFL Primetime, which is my favorite show of all time."
"They're just whatever," Wale said. "They have cool hats, I can say that much."
Which is why Wale was standing in a back hallway waiting for Ovechkin to come back, thinking up with business ventures for Ted Leonsis. ("Black People Online," as I recall.) Soon, Ovechkin emerged and took some photos with Wale; "You clean up nice," Wale said. "See you boys," Ovechkin said as he cruised off.
Then Mike Green came out to visit for a few minutes.
"Thanks for keeping D.C. sports alive, man, I appreciate it," Wale told him.
"We're trying," Green said. They chatted about hockey, and Canada, and post-goal celebrations, and Wale's first game.
"Why are hockey players so much more well-mannered than all other athletes?" Wale asked Green. "Man, you're all so polite."
He then gave us a demonstration of what NBA players are like in the club; sadly, none of it was quotable. Wale gave a little speech about how hockey players need to be a bit flashier; Green told him that he's flashy, by NHL standards.
"Someone should get a chain of the Stanley Cup if you win that joint," Wale recommended.
"I'll probably be the guy," Green said.
So anyhow, that was pretty much what happened. Wale told us that he had just met the LeBron James of the NHL. He said it's been a long time since he had seen the Verizon Center like that, packed with people hollering for the home team. He said if he was a football star and was drafted by the Cowboys, he'd refuse to play because he hates them so much. He said he wishes more Redskins showed that Dallas hate. He also said he could now cross Ovechkin off the list of people he wants to meet.
"Barack Obama's next," Wale said. "We need to get Barack at a hockey game."
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