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Agent Zero on Abe Pollin's death

(By Nick Wass - AP)

Gilbert Arenas's return to his Agent Zero persona sort of coincided with the death of Abe Pollin, which led to a surprising number of laugh-out-loud obituary moments after Tuesday night's one-point win over the Sixers. This is, apparently, how the Wizards mourn. For example, a reporter asked Gilbert for his favorite Abe Pollin memory.

"You know, after every win he would slap the [bleep] out of you in the face," Gilbert said, cracking up the room. "He'd be walking around, slapping everybody. I just remember the players used to come in, and when he was getting ready to slap you, they'd just give him the duck-in."

Then Gilbert showed us the backwards dodge move he'd use to avoid getting hammered in the face.I asked Gilbert whether he ever slapped Pollin back: "Ooooooh, no," he said.

He was also asked whether he ever engaged in one of the three-point contests with his owner that Wes Unseld once made famous.

"Yeah, we got our witness of the three-point contest here, but he didn't get close to the rim," Gilbert said. "We did it about five years ago. I mean, that was the funniest thing we ever witnessed."

Everyone laughed uncomfortably.

"I mean, it was," Gilbert said with a shrug.

And he was asked about his first meeting with the owner.

"It was kind of weird, because to be honest, I was coming off a gun charge in San Francisco, so I'm already nervous," Gilbert explained. "And I'm like, 'Aw, I don't think this guy's gonna pick me up.' And he's like, 'Oh no, we're family.' And then we just started talking about life. We started talking about family, him and my dad talked--I'm gonna take care of your son, I know he's a young kid, he's an extension of me--and from there we just bonded."

Which is not to say that Gilbert, in his own way, wasn't also touching and heartfelt and appropriate.

"It was kind of a hard evening, but at the end of the day, Abe Pollin loved us so much that we couldn't feel the pain until after the game," Gilbert said. "We had to go out there and just play. He wouldn't want us to stop doing what he loved because of what happened....We wasn't gonna try to lose this game for Mr. P. You know, he treated us like family, he [brought] us in, he believed in us. No matter what nobody was saying out there, he always believed we were his guys from the beginning."

So then, I asked, would this entire season turn into some "win one for Mr. P" crusade?

"Yeah; I mean, this was his life," Gilbert said. "You know, I felt that he held on, he tried to hold on as long as he can to see us succeed, and we're gonna have to. We're gonna have to jell together and become the dream he wanted."

Which is why players were again talking about winning championships. It seems almost absurd the way this team has been playing, but at the same time, it felt right, especially after a win.

(And I can't be the only person who was flashing back to the awful last-second dagger in the first game after Sean Taylor's death when the Sixers held the ball for that final shot.)

"He was my father away from home," Gilbert said of Pollin. "He was the one who believed in me, who took a chance on me....I couldn't do no wrong in his eyes. Ever since I've been here, he told me I just want to win one more championship. So as long as I'm here, that's what I'm gonna try to do. If I don't get a championship here, I didn't do my job in his eyes."

Caron Butler, who was still sort of emotional about the whole thing after the game, told me much the same thing.

"All he'd talk about was championships and rings," Butler said. "Obviously he wanted to win a championship. He has one, God rest his soul, but we feel like we can put this thing together and compete for another. And that's the goal."

And then there's that last shot, the long miss by Louis Williams.

"Mr. Pollin contested that last shot better than anybody," Flip Saunders said.

"Mr. Pollin's spirit blocked that last shot," Sixers Coach Eddie Jordan said.


"Um, I love Mr. Pollin, but I think good defense stopped the Williams shot," Brendan Haywood said. "But at the end of the day, this game meant a lot, because we knew how much Mr. Pollin loved this team."

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 24, 2009; 11:23 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Ben Olsen with his fans


Good to see you out at the game, Dan. I had originally planned to celebrate a man's career, but arrived to celebrate another man's life.

Posted by: sitruc | November 25, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Abe

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 25, 2009 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Abe Pollin won more championships in life then his team did on the court. Shame there aren't more owners and CEOs like him.

A question for you Dan what team was a bigger headache for the coach and Mr Pollin the 2009 Wizards or Championship winning team with the Big E and Wes? Are the egos as much of problem now as back then?

Posted by: sheepherder | November 25, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

When you hear and read about all the great things Abe did, and what a great heart he had, it seems to make the heart of a certain other someone all the more darker.

Posted by: rdpinva | November 25, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

When did Gil ever have a gun charge?? I think that's a misprint or something. Anyone???

Posted by: cj658 | November 25, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Gil had a gun charge right before he joined the team.

Posted by: HanMy | November 25, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to see ABE POLLIN's passing. He was a genuinely good guy. Rest in peace.

That said, here's hoping we get new ownership closer to TED LEONSIS than DAN SNYDER. And I certainly hope IRENE doesn't decide to pick up ABE's crusade with the WIZARDS and carry on.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 25, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

When Ted bought the Caps wasn't there an agreement that he would be the next owner of the Wizards?

Posted by: HanMy | November 25, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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