by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

BOSTON — I wear a white sheet with two holes near the eyes and I float through the streets without touching the earth. When I pass, clouds turn to sun, heads turns to tails, families with six boys suddenly give birth to girls. I am quick. I am on you like destiny. I am the Law of Averages.


“How long do you think you can escape me?” I ask the Boston Celtics as they practice for their Eastern Conference playoff series that begins tonight against the Pistons. “How long do you think you can keep pulling off this funny stuff? Bird steals the ball? Bird scores 20 points in the fourth quarter? Really, now. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?”

I have noticed. I have turned my head. I have been hearing the cries from basketball cities everywhere, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Detroit — particularly Detroit. They say: “The Law of Averages will catch up with those guys sooner or later.”

I love it when they call me by name.

“Hey, Red Man,” I say to the chubby guy with the cigar who is watching his Celtics practice, “do you think this goes on forever? Do you think you just show up and collect the banner? Do you think this is some kind of high-class soup line?”

I can change all that. I can do away with everything. I can turn the gray sky blue. Make it rain, whenever I want it to. Build a castle from a single grain of san-.

Does this sound familiar? I worked for the Bruins, right?

Never mind. I am here. I float through the rat-infested Boston Garden past the championship banners that hang from the ceiling, and across the parquet floor. They think this building has magic powers? I say this to buildings: Ptewy.

I am better than buildings. I am better than magic. I am unavoidable. Did you see what I did to the Baltimore Orioles? And you thought they’d go all year without winning. This is how I work. Trends develop. Jinxes develop. Everyone gets all excited. Then I show up. And I have tickets for the Pistons- Celtics series.


“Yo, baby-face,” I say to Danny Ainge, who is practicing his three-point shots. “Where’s your brains? You were gonna play baseball for Toronto, you picked the Celtics instead. Toronto chokes every year, and the Celtics win everything. What? You figure all of life is like this? Wake up, baby-face.”

Nothing goes on forever. Not good, not bad. I have taken nice care of Boston. Its fans were praying for me when the Bruins played Montreal again in the NHL playoffs. But they didn’t want me around when the Celtics played Atlanta last week. And they don’t want me now.

That’s OK. I look at Detroit and I smile. I look at Detroit and say:
“Come to Papa.”

This Adrian Dantley guy? He’s 32? And he never had a championship. How long should he wait?

And this Isiah Thomas guy? Nice smile. Nice mom. What was he saying the other day about his team eventually winning in Boston Garden? “Sooner or later the Law of Averages says if you’re good enough, everything will even out.”

I love it when they quote me.

How about this Chuck Daly? He’s 57, and has never won anything big as a head coach? Meanwhile, the Boston coach, K.C. Jones, has won so much he’s retiring, probably to count his rings.

“Hey, K.C.,” I say, as he folds his arms across his chest, “how about a little smile? Geez. You should be laughing. The fact is, Detroit could have beaten you last year. Atlanta could have beaten you this year. How many more of these seventh games do you think you’re going to win?

“What? You think it goes on like this forever? You think it’s just miracle after miracle and then you retire? Is that what you think?”

I shake my massive shoulders. I am getting ready. I can fly like a bird in the sky. I can buy anything that money can buy. I can turn a river into a raging fi–.

Have you heard this already? I’ve got Bird in my hand

I float into the locker room where the Celtics are discussing how they will beat the Pistons again. I watch the plays on the blackboard. I see the confident smiles. They are making a mistake. They are ignoring me.

“Hey, Bird Man,” I say. “Have I taken care of you OK? Do you have enough rings? Do you have enough money? What? You think it goes on like this forever? You ride off into the sunset with nothing but championship and heroic memories?”

Know whom you are dealing with here: I am snake eyes when you haven’t seen snake eyes in an hour. I am the winning lottery number when you’ve lost for 10 years straight. When I pass, snow melts, someone hits a jackpot, DNA mixes with RNA and goes crazy.

I am the Law of Averages. Here is what I will do: This six- year Detroit losing streak in Boston Garden? History. Over. Maybe even in Game 1. This Bird who wins it in every fourth quarter? Finished. See ya’. And the little leprechaun who gets all the attention? Hey, short stuff. No one is above the Law.

“So we don’t have to worry then?” I hear you ask. “This year we’ll finally break all the jinxes? This year we beat them? This year we turn back the hands of time and make the season change and turn everything from old to new-ew?”

“No problem,” I say. “Now, let’s get started. When I finish with basketball, I have this hell freezing over thing to take care of.”


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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