Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gilbert's Middle Name

Gilbert's Billboard, 8th & H Street NW

There are two billboards around Chinatown with Gilbert Arenas on them asking, "What makes you different?" These are to promote Gil's foundation, ZeroTwoHero.

As well all know, Gilbert is different. His name is different. His personality is different. He rides his bike for exercise throughout DC. He doesn't hang out with a posse. He stays in during nights on road trips, opting to order colon cleansers off of infomericals rather than go to the clubs with his teammates. He wears his own bizarre shoes for Adidas. This has all been widely reported.

With everything that's been said about Agent Zero over the past two years, I've never heard mention of his middle name. This got my mind a'wondering. Could it be as unusual as 'Gilbert'? Could it possibly be 'Danger'? My money was on something glorious and fitting, something that would set the blogosphere on fire, something like 'Alfonso'.

Thanks to the wonders of Wikipedia, I found out that Gilbert Arenas' middle name is 'Jay'.

At first, this was awesome. It brought to mind the episode of The Simpsons where we learn that Homer J. Simpson's middle name is 'Jay', an ode to cartoon legends Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame. The middle name 'Jay' is a big deal in the cartoon world. It was fitting that an animated character such as Gilbert Arenas would share the classic middle name. After all, he did admit to Chuck Klosterman that he watches the cartoon Gummi Bears.

However, on second thought, the name seemed shockingly normal by Gilbert's standards. Sure he's got a nice jump shot, but 'Jay' just doesn't fit the stereotype of the "craaaazy" Arenas. That's when I realized that I've been buying into too much of the hype for Agent Zero.

Gilbert Arenas is not a cartoon character. Gilbert Arenas is not a joke.

Before the mainstream media completely turns him into a one-dimensional "character" that simply does quirky, off-the-wall things, we need to remember that it's his game and revenge mind-set that makes Gilbert Arenas an absolute assassin.

Another billboard, on the NPR building, 6th and Mass Ave NW

Before he was the blogosphere's darling, Gilbert was on a one-man mission to enact revenge on every team that skipped over him in the 2001 NBA Draft. He cried when he wasn't drafted in the first round. He has worn #0 for his entire college and professional career because that's how many minutes his critics said he would play at the University of Arizona. His blog is entitled "The Takeover." He vowed revenge on the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, and (if ever possible - and I wouldn't put it past him...) Duke University because Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski snubbed him for the U.S. Men's National Team.

Does this sound like a joke?

It's apparent that Gilbert takes every insult to heart. Everything negative said about him is taken at a deeply personal level. This is what drives Agent Zero to become #1.

This is also what makes him the player in the National Basketball Association most relatable to fans .

In his most recent blog post, Gilbert wrote, "To understand me is to understand a fan." The reason he jumped off a trampoline at the All-Star Game and did a between-the-legs dunk wasn't for the money offered by Shaq to Gilbert's foundation. It was because he wanted to know how it felt.

How does it feel to be an Elvis impersonator jumping off a trampoline and dunking?

That's the same feeling I have when I see Gilbert ball.

How does it feel to hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating, three-pointer?

That is why I can relate.

If it takes some lunatic antics to get some recognition, than that's what he's going to do. If he needs to fill out an entire box of All-Star ballots to see his name on the roster he'll do that, too. If he needs to insert an oxygen chamber in his house to increase his stamina, he's going to do that as well.

From his clutch shots to his strong personality, Gilbert Arenas stands out from the crowd of NBA players. Never in my lifetime has an athlete exposed a personality that made him more relatable to fans. In today's sports culture, every athlete tries to show their personality to win over fans. Most of the time it seems like an agent-driven plot to gain a shoe contract. This isn't the case with Gilbert. He shows his emotions, his personality, his smile, because he's geniunely having fun taking out the naysayers.

That's why it's a shame that Gilbert Arenas has become known more for his antics than his game. He may be funny, but he ain't no joke. With a plain old middle name like 'Jay', it's easy to see that Gilbert Arenas is human. He's one of us. He's a Clark Kent. And that makes his Superman performances even more impressive. Fans and bloggers need to focus more on Gilbert's dagger and less on his swagger, lest they feel the wrath of Agent Zero.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Georgetown outlasted North Carolina last night to win the East Regional and move on to the Final Four in dramatic fashion. Jonathan Wallace nailed a game-tying three-pointer with about 30 seconds left, and then the Hoyas clamped down to hold the Tar Heels scoreless for all but the last 8 seconds of overtime to seal the victory, 96 - 84.

This is Georgetown's first trip to the Final Four since 1985, and the first for a D.C. area team since, well, last year's George Mason squad. (We're not exactly starving for college hoops success, unlike all those Philly schools.)

I watched the game at McFadden's in Foggy Bottom then strolled through Georgetown to see the atmosphere. Suprisingly, I went to sleep last night thinking that Georgetown kids just don't know how to celebrate these days. Long story short, I was born at Georgetown Hospital the day between the Hoyas advancing to the National Championship game and the day they won it all in 1984. My mother never let me forget that she couldn't sleep a wink all weekend because of the rowdy Georgetown students. Needless to say, I was shocked to see M Street NW almost entirely empty.

Well, after checking some blogs this morning, it turns out I didn't see anyone because they had already moved down M Street onto Pennsylvania Ave and were chanting "We Want Bush!" in front of the White House.


Anyway, the Hoyas now collide with the Ohio State Buckeyes for the right to play for the National Title. I'll get a preview up later this week. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the high spirits in D.C.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Love for GDub

Lost in the hoopla of Hoya Paranoia pt. 2 is the tremendous achievement of the George Washington Colonials.

GW has made it to the NCAA Tournament three years running (a longer streak than any other DC area men's team), and they're looking to notch their second win in as many years.

Last year, in one of the most awful hose jobs on recent memory, GW was given an 8-seed after finishing 26-2. Not only were they an 8-seed, the Colonials got to face UNC Wilmington and overall 1-seed Duke in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sweet deal. Compared to that, this year's seed is a gift-wrapped basket.

Three reasons George Washington can advance to the Sweet 16...

The seed. As an 11-seed, George Washington University will play 6th-seeded Vanderbilt University in the first round. If they get past Vandy, they'll match-up with either Washington State or Oral Roberts. GW can beat all three teams. Washington State is so inexperienced that no one on their team has ever played in the NCAA tournament before. Oral Roberts, seen by many as a Cinderella candidate, is still the weakest team in this pool. Also, all these games will be played in Sacramento, California, not exactly a home-court advantage for anyone.

The athleticism. The Vanderbilt match-up is great for GW. Their athleticism could push them by the slower Commodores. I envision Regis Koundijia and Rob Diggs unleashing hell on the defensive end and when going for up-for-grab rebounds. Steals, blocks, and fast breaks will lead to big wins for GW.

The experience. Another key strength of the Colonials is their veteran experience. Carl Elliot is a senior and Maureece Rice is a junior. Never underestimate the importance of guard play in the early NCAA rounds. Never. They've been dancing three years running and a Cinderella splash is not out of reach.

Although the Colonials didn't win the Atlantic-10 regular season crown, (they finished 3rd behind Xavier and UMass), they did string enough victories together to claim the A-10 Tournament Championship. Some might say their title might be tainted because they didn't do any of the leg work. After all, Rhode Island took out Xavier and St. Louis took out UMass. However, GW opportunistically made the most of their chances by wiping both SLU and URI out. Can't blame them for that.

Normally, I don't look favorably on teams that snuck into the NCAA Tournament through the back door, but GW's speed, experience and strong back court will make them a difficult out. I got 'em dancing all the way to the Sweet 16 before bowing out to the Hoyas. But who knows, maybe this year's George Mason is the other other 'George' team from D.C.

A homer? Me? No way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

WaSHINgton, D.C.

D.C. = Docile Crowd?

The Shins played DAR Constitution Hall last night, performing to a sold out, but rather tame, crowd of DC hipsters.

Aptly opening with "Sleeping Lessons," the first track off their most recent album, Wincing the Night Away, the band tried to get the audience into the show early. Since the venue is an all-seater, the crowd had to be implored to stand and get into the groove. This led to the awkwardness of some sections standing, some sitting, and some complaining either way. One positive result of this was clearly hearing the band, especially singer James Mercer's voice, in the better-than-advertised acoustics of Constitution Hall.

After all was said and done, the Shins played 18 songs (a 70-minute, 16 song set and then a two song encore). The setlist mostly comprised of their two most recent albums, Wincing the Night Away and Chutes Too Narrow. They did sneak in earlier tracks "Caring is Creepy," "Know Your Onion!," and "New Slang."

Although the performance made me more appreciative of the new album, the real highlights of the show were almost exclusively songs from their second album, Chutes Too Narrow. The Shins nailed a more aggressive version of "Saint Simon" and "Turn a Square" pleased the crowd more than any other.

It seems the band has two strengths in their live show. First, getting into the zone in some songs and rocking out, as evident in their cover of Modern Lover's "Someone I Care About." The other is the thought-provoking lyrics in slower songs, as heard in "A Comet Appears," the Wincing closer.

The between song banter was mostly filled with references to American history, you know, because nothing ever happens in DC unrelated to government/history/politics. Even still, the band missed so many puns, (Daughters of the American RevoluSHIN, ConstituSHIN Hall, WaSHINgton, D.C.) that I don't think I'll ever forgive them.

Probably wouldn't matter anyway, since they'd be lost on the emoSHINless crowd.

01. Sleeping Lessons
02. Australia
03. Pam Berry/Phantom Limb
04. Kissing the Lipless
05. Mine's Not a High Horse
06. Girl Inform Me
07. Girl on the Wing
08. New Slang
09. Saint Simon
10. Turn on Me Girl Sailor
11. Turn a Square
12. Gone for Good
13. A Comet Appears
14. Turn on Me
15. Know Your Onion!
16. Caring is Creepy
17. Someone I Care About (Modern Lovers Cover)
18. So Says I

Thanks to for helping me finish the setlist.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can Georgetown Win it All?

23 years ago the Hoyas brought the NCAA Championship to Washington, D.C. This year they have the best shot to bring home the title since the heyday of Hoya Paranoia. They are a trendy pick to make the Final Four, but can they win it all?

The Hoyas are capable of complete domination. There are other teams capable of domination (Ohio State, Florida, Texas), but not to the extent of Georgetown. They could realistically steam roll their way to the National Championship.

Jeff Green is a machine. Roy Hibbert is a monster. John Thompson III is a genius. This does not bode well for the 63* other teams in the tournament.

When clicking on all cylinders (late January-now) they have been a force to be reckoned with. Despite a hiccup against Syracuse, they have been straight killing teams, winning 15 of 16. In those 15 wins, all against Big East opponents, they've won by an average of almost 13 points.

The Georgetown Hoyas can win it all for three reasons:

The experience. They made it to the Sweet 16 last year, giving eventual champion Florida their toughest test by far. Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert know how to get this done. A tough Big East regular season and tournament also prepared them well.

The offense. JT III employs an offense that is Georgetown's biggest tournament strength. There are very few other teams in D-1 NCAA that play the Princeton-style offense (G'Town, Princeton, Air Force, anyone else?). If their opponents haven't seen it, they could get swamped. Sure, other Big East teams have figured it out, but most of them are on the other side of the bracket (Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova) and unlikely to make it the Finals. Speaking of which, another strength for the Hoyas is...

The seed. On the downside, Georgetown got stuck with North Carolina and Texas in the same region. Fortunately, they'd only need to go through one of them to make it to the Final Four. Also on the bright side, the #3 Seed in the East, Washington State, isn't nearly as threatening as the other #3 seeds, Oregon, Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M. I think they have a clear shot at the Elite 8 before a real challenger steps into the picture. Also, the East Regionals are in East Rutherford, a loooong ways away from North Carolina or Texas.

However, despite the potential, flaws still exist.

The backcourt. DaJuan Summers and Jeremiah Rivers are freshmen. Jessie Sapp is a sophomore. Let that sink in. Young point guards can get trounced by experienced PGs, especially in the first two rounds.

The inevitable. All teams face adversity at some point in the tournament. The Hoyas will, too. Roy Hibbert is hit-or-miss offensively. It's hard for him to do nothing on the defensive end (he's 7'2" for crying out loud!), but if he gets in early foul trouble it could be lights out, especially against UNC or Texas. Hibbert needs to stay in the game and contain Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Durant. The Hoyas can withstand a bad offensive night from Hibbert, but if he's not clogging up the paint they're not going far.

All things considered, the Hoyas have a fantastic chance to dance all the way to the Final Four. If they get past either UNC or Texas, their toughest possible challenge in my opinion, they have a great shot of winning it all. The only team I see as flat-out better than Georgetown is Florida. Any other match up, on paper, favors the Hoyas. Which is why, if they make it to Atlanta, the Hoyas should be cutting down the nets.
* I know damn well there are 64 other teams in the tournament. However, it is straight bullshit to claim that both Florida A&M and Niagara are in the tournament. Only the winner of the play-in game is truly "dancing". This is so egregious because it's easily fixable. ELIMINATE THE PLAY-IN GAME. Florida A&M and Niagara are CHAMPIONS. (Especially Niagara, they got hosed. The MAAC is better than that.) They both deserve to be in the field of 64. Who cares if there is one less at-large spot? If anything, the play-in game should be between two at-large teams. In this year's case, I think Arkansas vs. Old Dominion would be a much more sensible and TV friendly matchup.

Friday, March 02, 2007

United Advances

DC United overcame the downpour last night to defeat CD Olimpia 3-2, advancing to the second round of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. United won this series by an aggregate score of 7-3 over the Honduran team.

Sloppy weather marred the victory, but the Black-and-Red won none-the-less. DC received two goals from recent acquisition Luciano Emilio, who tallied a total of three goals in the series against his former team. Christian Gomez, who also had three total goals in the series, netted one last night on a penalty kick.

Rainy view from 136.

Only 8,181 fans came out to see the match, an understandably low number given the poor conditions. It seemed that everyone in the crowd was either in the DC supporters' sections or hiding under the upper deck roof. Speaking of the supporters' sections...

One of the few flags.

La Barra Brava brought it last night. Despite the ugly weather, sections 135, 136, and parts of 137 were rocking. The group sang and cheered for the duration of the match. There were a bunch of attempts to wave flags, but few were successful because of the rain. I was whacked in the face quite a few times. No big whoop. In the end it was a very good turnout for the first game of the year.

Final score in favor of DC.

DC will now face CD Chivas de Guadalajara of Mexico in the semifinals. RFK Stadium will house the first leg on March 15th and the teams will meet in Guadalajara, Mexico on April 3rd for the second leg.

This match should be off the charts in terms of fan support. Chivas has HUGE fan support all over the US, and they will definitely be heard at RFK in two weeks. Hopefully the weather is nicer so DC can show them how we do.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

DC United vs. CD Olimpia, 2nd Leg

Round 2...Fight!

DC United takes on CD Olimpia tonight at RFK Stadium for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup first round. DC holds an almost insurmountable lead in the series, having won 4 - 1 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras last week.

As long as DC doesn't lose by three goals or more, they're advancing to the second round and will face CD Guadalajara (MEXICO) in the second round. Guadalajara, aka Chivas, defeated W Connection (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO) in the first round to advance.

For the first time since last season's disappointment in the MLS playoffs, the Black-and-Red will take the field at RFK in front of the homes fans. I can't wait to get back in the thick of things. The off-season has been too long!

Party time!