A guy at the barbershop today said something about how tonight’s Pistons/Heat Game 7 “would be a war”. I’d have jumped on the insensitive, KG-style analogy, but he had one fewer arms than me and might’ve known what he was talked about. Not sure if I can say the same about the Detroit Free Press’ Mitch Albom, who spent Monday AM trying to send inspirational messages into Ben Wallace’s headphones.
Yes, you’ve drawn the worst assignment since Davy Crockett drew the Alamo. Yes, having to guard Shaq one-on-one is as unfair as William Hung having to face Luciano Pavarotti. You surrender height and width to O’Neal, 5 inches and roughly 90 pounds’ worth. Heck, 5 inches and 90 pounds is a farm animal.
And, yes, you’re out there all alone. You shove a forearm into his back, Shaq turns and fires over you. You bump your chest into his body, he spins and slams a dunk. He starts every game like a race car out of a pit stop, and you only can wait for him to run out of gas. He’s one of those monsters in “Lord of the Rings,” which can be subdued only through repeated jabs, swats and a sword through the head.
And, oh, yeah, you get no help from the referees. Heck, they don’t know what to do with Shaq, either. There’s so much commotion when that behemoth makes contact, it’s like trying to pick a side in an earthquake.
But, Ben, listen to me — you, us.
You’re not chopped liver.
You are the Defensive Player of the Year. You are a force to be reckoned with. Look at your arms, for pete’s sake! Go ahead, flex. No one’s looking. I’m in your head, remember?
You showed some of that muscle Saturday night in Game 6 at the Palace, in that fourth quarter. You blocked Shaq and started a fast break. Then you blocked Shaq again, from behind. Then you stole one of his passes and sent it to Rip Hamilton, who whipped it back to you for a slam. You had a sudden flash of energy, animation, more lift than drag.
Heck, you do rebounds like Borden’s does dairy. You are to rebounds what Ray Charles was to piano keys. You own them. You command them. Yet this hasn’t been you this series, not with seven rebounds in the Game 3 loss, or seven rebounds in the Game 5 loss, or even seven rebounds in the Game 6 victory.
Yes, I know it saps your energy when, time after time, Shaq opens with a quick 10 points over your head. But you can’t let Shaq depress you. Keep reminding yourself: you’re younger, thinner and have better hair.
Next Monday, Albom hypnotizes Steve Yzerman into cleaning out the garage.
“I don’t care if he;’s not 100 percent, even if he’s only 30 percent he will contribute,” Dwayne Wade Sr. said Sunday.
The Heat didn’t practice Sunday, and neither Wade nor coach Stan Van Gundy was available for comment.
But according to Wade Sr., there’s virtually no chance Wade, who sustained strained right rib muscles in Game 5, will miss the biggest game in Heat history and the biggest game of Wade’s life.
“He definitely will be in Game 7,” Wade Sr. said. “I’m positive. That’s my son; shouldn’t I know?”
No word from Dwayne Sr., however, on the condition of Kellen Winslow Jr.