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Dear Gilbert, You've really blown it now

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How did we get here?

How did the most original, authentic character in the game just three years ago -- the guy who lifted thousands out of their seats with his long-range jumpers that won games at the buzzer -- become the pariah of Washington sports?

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I know. After you signed that deal, your contract became a target more than financial security. If things went bad on the court, you were to blame. If the cheerleaders had no rhythm, it was because the organization didn't have enough left over to pay better dancers. And when you missed the past two years because of knee surgeries, people saw that as money wasted.

But bringing guns into your locker room, it's so far beyond your health now.

The good things off the court -- offering to renegotiate your contract to secure better players, all the children you've helped through your Zero Two Hero Foundation -- no one cares today. All anyone is saying is, "Gilbert went too far this time. I'm done with him."

I know you didn't sound remorseful after the win in Philadelphia. But when I talked to you before the game, you showed genuine remorse.

You told me: "I feel very bad about putting those guns in the locker room. Even though I did it to protect my kids, I put other people's kids in danger, and those are my teammates. They have parents too. That's just a fact. I shouldn't have done that."

But that contrition -- and the apology through your lawyers Monday -- came almost a week after a series of nonchalant Tweets, hiding behind the "goofball" defense, acting as if you went too far with your humor instead of just calling it for what it was: breaking the law.

You didn't just toy with the "moral turpitude" clause in your contract; you flat-out endangered your NBA career.

If the chambers in those guns were loaded instead of empty, don't think for one minute that the commissioner would not have banned you for life. If not to set an example, then to honor the memory of Mr. Pollin, who was Stern's friend before business partner -- the same Mr. P who changed the team's name from Bullets to Wizards to honor the memory of his friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated.

I keep going through stories I wrote about you over the years to find out what went wrong, play amateur psychologist one more time.

Did Bruce Bowen forecast a possible end in Washington two years ago? Remember, when I asked another NBA player, whose mother abandoned him as a child just like you, what's in store?


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