WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – With the Wizards now six games into their 2014 NBA Playoff run, fostering a 1-o series lead Monday night against the Indiana Pacers, the team still finds itself devoid a fan ambassador who’s historically synonymous with the franchise.
Think Robin Ficker, the renowned D.C.-based attorney who, for years, gained notoriety for his legendary taunting tactics, as a Washington Bullets fan and season-ticket holder with seats directly behind the visiting bench at USAir Arena.
Who could forget the 2008 playoffs, when, after two straight seasons of being eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards turned up the volume on the rivalry with a little hip-hop, when DeShawn Stevenson invited rapper Soulja Boy to attend Game 3.
Scholars maintain the reason for Boy’s invite, stemmed from when Stevenson dared utter the word “overrated” about LeBron, who responded by saying acknowledging Stevenson would “be like Jay-Z saying something bad about Soulja Boy.”
And thus, a feud was born and the games took on the feeling of more than just two teams fighting for their playoff survival, with the sport seemingly embracing a culture with which it walks hand-in-hand.
As time would have it, James and the Cavaliers would emerge victorious from that feud, in both respects.
With the Wizards poised to take a 2-0 series lead, it was Game 1 which perhaps yielded the franchise’s next great courtside heel, from the most unlikely suspect.
On Monday night, while the Wizards and Pacers were battling it out in Indianapolis, and admitted still-Wizards superfan Gilbert Arenas — yes, that Gilbert Arenas — was hard at work crafting the meanest, wittiest collection of internet memes directed at struggling Pacers center Roy Hibbert he could muster on Instagram.
The internet quickly took notice, and eventually, so did television, when ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser addressed Gilbert’s epic trolling of Hibbert on “Pardon The Interruption.”
For Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, Gilbert is probably the last person he’d want to extend a Verizon Center invitation to, or in the words of Kornheiser on Tuesday:
"It took 5 years for the Wizards to recover from Gilbert Arenas. He should shut up." ~ @PTI's Tony Kornheiser on Arenas mocking Hibbert.—
Kenny Hussein Kwik (@KwikWarren) May 06, 2014
But, with an inexplicable disconnect between some Wizards fans and the roster as it’s currently constructed — Washington couldn’t sell out its first home playoff game in six years — Leonsis may want to reconsider.
Ill-will towards Gilbert’s massive $111-million contract he left hanging around the neck of the organization aside, the fact remains, he is still the last great basketball star connecting the new Wizards to the old, the latter of which had no shortage of fan support from this town.
Gilbert seems ecstatic with the idea of being brought up in the same breath as the Wizards again, announcing Tuesday night:
“I’m the new wizard heckler!! Bullets had #robinfeckerKnicks got #spike duke has #cameroncrazies the wizards are kicking ass and taking names..too all the fans out there I made it on PTI today,and u can too.”
Maybe he’d be poised to take a seat behind the Pacers bench in Game 3, when the Wizards return to D.C Friday to defend home court?
The thought is an alluring one.
Think about it. Gilbert Arenas sitting courtside, heckling opposing teams’ players. He was born for this. It only took $111 million to come to that realization of his destiny.
Now, of course Leonsis and the Wizards wouldn’t publicly endorse anyone openly mocking their opponent.
Or would they?
Wizards doing a good bit here. http://t.co/EeTZXDrzt8—
Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 16, 2014
Could Gilbert afford to buy the ticket himself? Sure.
But he’s likely weighed down by too much embarrassment of his prior actions to take that first step in doing so.
Imagine the headlines if the team extended the invitation, with the caveat that he’d have to pay his own way.
‘Gilbert Arenas Accepts Wizards Invitation to Pay Back Some of $111 Million Contract’
Everyone’s happy — the fans, Arenas, the organization, now presented with the opportunity to place a nice ribbon over a once-disgraceful memory.
For Gilbert, this could be a simple case of manifest destiny, and for the Wizards, maybe it’s the perfect opportunity to welcome their once-beloved prodigal son back into the family.
While I would never make any grand assumptions about the intent behind his recent antics, I would say it’s not beyond the realm of possibility Gil’s attempting to reconnect with a fan base which once showered him with profuse adoration, and I’d wager, still would if they could.
But since working in fact is always a far truer barometer of fan interest than wielding baseless assertions, there’s only one question left to ask.
Would you, the Wizards fan, want Gilbert Arenas sitting courtside for Game 3 of Wizards-Pacers?
(If the answer’s yes, you can message Ted Leonsis here.)
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