by Nick Wilke / @njwilke1
Gilbert Arenas was back on Twitter this summer giving away his game-worn shoes to his followers. I first heard about the giveaway after reading a tweet from SLAMonline. Initially, I was a little skeptical about the whole thing. I thought that it may have just been a rumor started by Gil or one of his teammates, and I didn’t think he was serious about giving away shoes from his prized sneaker collection. On his website, Arenas claims that he is the NBA’s first true sneakerhead. His collection includes everything from Retro Jordans to original Pennys to Foamposites and FILAs.
If you were lucky enough to win, he would give you the choice to have them autographed or not, in case you wanted to wear them for yourself. Unfortunately for me, I am a size 10.5 and Gil is a size 13, so I won’t be wearing them. I wanted to get the shoes autographed anyways, so that people would believe me when I told them that Gilbert Arenas of the Orlando Magic sent me two pairs of his shoes.
The rules of the contest were simple. Almost every day between 3-4 p.m., Gil would post a basketball-related trivia question on his Twitter account, and the first person to reply with the correct answer won the shoes. The first day of the contest was June 3, and the last day was August 29. In total, Gil gave away over 100 pairs of shoes this summer.
At first I thought that winning the shoes would be easy, because I pride myself in knowing basketball trivia amongst my friends and family. I didn’t know that 13,000 other people were also trying to win the shoes.
The first few days of the giveaway were probably the best chance to win because not many people knew about the giveaway—yet.
It was very hard for me to participate in the contest on most days because I worked 9-5 every weekday and didn’t have access to a computer at my job. I still tried though, refreshing my Twitter browser on my iPhone every minute to see if the question was posted. Most of the time I would know the answer, but I wouldn’t be the first person to answer. This was because I had to manually refresh on my iPhone, and usually the new tweets wouldn’t show up right away.
After a while, I realized that I had no chance of winning while I was at work, so I focused on trying to win on the weekends. I made sure that I was at my desk with my laptop at 2:55 sharp, every Saturday and Sunday. Some times I would sit there waiting for the question to pop up for 30 minutes, but most of the time Gil would post the question before 3:20.
If you had a fast internet connection, then you would see the tweet as soon as Gil clicked on the “tweet” button, but if your connection wasn’t that fast, then the tweet might show up after a few seconds. Those few seconds are crucial because many people are reading the question before you have even gotten it. As soon as the question popped up, you had to know the answer off the top of your head to have any chance of winning. You had no time to Google the answer. My laptop didn’t have the fastest connection, so I was at somewhat of a disadvantage at first.
After the contest had been going on for a month and a half, I still hadn’t come close to winning. I knew that I had to come up with a different strategy if I wanted to actually win because what I was originally doing had gotten me nowhere.
My new strategy was to receive all of Gil’s tweets on my iPhone as text messages from Twitter, so that this way I would receive the tweets faster. Twitter offered it as a free service, so I figured that I should take advantage of it. I started this strategy in mid-July.
I had my strategy all planned out—I would receive the question on my phone and then type up the answer on my computer. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come so that I could try this new method out. Unfortunately, Gil postponed the contest two weekends in a row because he went out of town on two mini-vacations. This was devastating to me, as I had to wait two more weeks to try out my new strategy.
After what seemed like an eternity, the last weekend of July came around and Gil was going to continue the contest over the weekend. That weekend was also the weekend when I had to move into my new apartment in Orlando. I was hoping to be in Orlando early afternoon Saturday, but I had to ride up there with my dad because he was willing to help me move out of my old apartment and into the new apartment.
On the way to Orlando we stopped at a Wal-Mart in Melbourne around 2:55. I was ready for the trivia question to pop up on my iPhone, but I would also have to tweet the answer from the phone. I wasn’t too confident of my chances of winning this day. As soon as I walked into the store, my phone vibrated and the message tone sounded. I quickly reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone to read the question: “Who were the only two NBA players to win MVP and ROY in the same season?”
I immediately knew that the answer was Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld from reading Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball. I furiously but very carefully typed the answer and sent my tweet. I had to make sure my iPhone didn’t auto-correct my spelling, so I ended up just typing Wilt & Unseld. It took about 25 seconds from the time I received the tweet to the time I replied. I was praying that Gil would cut me some slack for not giving full names.
I wasn’t too confident that I was the first person to answer correctly due to the fact that I had to tweet from my iPhone in a Wal-Mart, so I carried on with my food-shopping.
About 10 minutes later Gil posted that I was the winner of a game-worn pair of Air Jordan Olympic 6’s!
This was when I started running through the aisles at Wal-Mart looking for my dad to tell what just happened. Then, of course, I had to call all my friends who claim that they know basketball trivia and brag to them.
I was surprised to win because I still hadn’t implemented my new strategy, but I still won. I was still waiting for the opportunity to try it out. That day would come three days later on Tuesday, August 2. On that day, Gil postponed the contest for a couple of hours and did it later on in the day, around 7 p.m.
The postponement allowed me to answer to question from my home computer. I was ready and very confident that I would win again. I made sure that I was at my computer with my phone on my desk at 6:55.
The question popped up on my phone at about 7:10. It read: “Who was the last player to win the NBA 6th Man Award twice in a row?”
Right away, three names came to me: Ricky Pierce, Kevin McHale and Detlef Schrempf. I knew they all won the award twice just from looking at the list of 6th man winners before, but it took me a little while to come up with my final answer. I ended up answering with Schrempf because he was the last of the three to retire.
A few minutes later as I was eating my dinner, I got the confirmation tweet from Gil saying that I just won a pair of Air Jordan 1s.
In a span of four days, I had won two pairs of Air Jordans from Gilbert Arenas’ personal shoe collection.
Gil shipped both pairs out that week, and I received both pairs from UPS on August 5. He took care of the shipping and handling. The winners didn’t have to pay a dime.
I knew some people on Twitter who would say “You’re so lucky. How did you win those shoes?” I would just answer back and say, “Strategizing and basketball knowledge.”
I stopped trying after I won the second pair because the most any person could win was two pairs. I guarantee that if there was no limit and I didn’t have to work every weekday, then I would have won at least three more pairs.
In the final weeks of the giveaway, Gil started asking the easiest questions possible just to see who had the fastest responses. This was when 13,000 people were participating in the contest daily, so in order to win you had to be really fast with the answer.
As of October 14, I still have the shoes, but looking to trade them in or sell them, so that I can get a pair in my own size.
As one of his final tweets, Gil said that if the season doesn’t start in January, then he might start giving away jerseys from his personal collection that includes about 500 jerseys. This would mean a flashback of 1999 when the season didn’t start until the beginning of February. I don’t know if I could survive for that long without any NBA basketball in my life.
Personally, I could care less about the jersey collection giveaway. I would much rather see a full NBA season. I just want the NBA lockout to end as soon as possible so that the season can start.
Thanks again Gil for the shoes, and good luck with the season. Hope to see you on the court in October.