For those of you who do not remember, Chris Gatling was the Golden State Warrior's power forward in the early 1990's, although he may be best remembered now for getting dunked on mercilessly by Shawn Kemp and then giving the Rainman a congratulatory handshake once Kemp returned to earth. You can watch it on this top 10 video of Kemp's best dunks. The one where Gatling gets dunked on is #5.
I find this interesting considering Gatling had a couple of the best dunks of the 90's as far as I'm concerned, one a two handed rip off a missed three where he took off just inside the free throw line and threw down on David Robinson and another one on Manute Bol circa 1992 at a game I was at at the Arena that I still remember vividly.
This random encounter actually occurred just a few months ago in Vegas during the now infamous NBA All-Star weekend. I was out there primarily for a friend's bachelor party weekend that he scheduled months in advance not realizing that it was going to be one of the more insane weekends in Vegas history. Accordingly, we were forced to stay at the Hooters Casino behind the MGM which I now fully and quite surprisingly recommend. After the first night there where we entertained the bachelor at a fine Gentleman's establishment for a few hours (thank God not the Minxx where Pacman Jones had his little run-in with club security) we were all feeling quite unmotivated the next morning. Not being one to be easily deterred while having only a couple days in Vegas, I quickly ordered up a couple bloody mary's to get me going the next morning while almost everyone else in my party decided to get some food and just pass out for a few hours. With only a couple of us semi-conscious, I found out one of my buddies was betting on horse-races at the MGM sports book and realized this was the perfect way to spend my pre-All Star game Sunday. This is mostly because horse-racing is the only form of betting I ever manage to come out ahead in, blackjack's about even and poker I always get cleaned out.
So I get to the MGM sports book and my friend's got a nice little set up at the personal monitors and they have about 8 different races you can switch between so I get set up and begin a furious pattern of scoping out the ponies in the various races and running back and forth so that I get my bets in before the ponies start racing. Somehow in my ecstacy I failed to realize that two guys about 6'5 and 6'10 had sat down right next to me. So I'm ordering free Corona's and getting animated about these horses and I realize one of the guys next to me keeps happening to be betting on the same horses as I am by chance. On the first bet we both had a nice win on the same horse and we start talking and he says it's the first time he's ever bet on horses and he pulled out the win and I thought he looked familiar but I had horses to focus on... this was serious business. So we're yelling at the horses as they win and lose, just enjoying a typical Vegas Sunday, and then some more of my friends start showing up to say what's up and join us betting on horses, including another huge Warrior's fan. He looks over and tells me that the guy I'm betting on horses with is Chris Gatling.
Now, for most of you, seeing Chris Gatling would be probably not be a huge deal. But for me, I first started getting into basketball just when Gatling came into the league so I totally reverted back to my childhood and, not to mention the inspiration from the free Coronas, I was stoked. So I look over at him and say "dude, are you Chris Gatling?" - kind of like I was addressing the King of Spain. He looks over clearly surprised at being recognized and considering every living basketball celebrity was in Vegas that weekend and I'm clearly very excited at seeing him, he was just like "yeah." So I was like, "man, I remember going to a game in Oakland and seeing you dunk over Manute Bol when I was a kid. F'ing awesome!" And he replied "Cool" and I swear he gave me the same handshake he gave Shawn Kemp after getting dunked on back in 1993. Gotta say that made my weekend and even though some of my friends saw Jordan, and Nique, and Daryl Dawkins, etc, I couldn't have been happier than to have been betting on horses with Chris Gatling. And to put my excitement in perspective, one of my friends saw me that next week back from Vegas and all he could ask me about the weekend was "so, dwyermaker... did you get Gatling's digits or what?" All I can is that's life as a Golden State Warriors Fan, for better or worse!
Editor's note: We're gonna see if we can do a weekly post about random athlete encounters. Hopefully yours are more exciting than ours. If it's a decent story, we'll post it and link it up with our other buddy sites. We won't name you of course, we'll keep you completely anonymous. We also have no way of proving if any of the stories are true, but that's ok. We have diplomatic immunity. If you have pictures, even better.
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