MAKING A LIST AND CHECKING IT TWICE

Last night I was a Piston.

I might have been Chauncey or maybe Rip. I could have been Ben. I don’t think I was Rasheed, because I would have remembered saying something. Maybe I was Tayshaun.

Anyhow, last night, as I was a Piston, just before I went to bed, I put a note on my refrigerator. A “To Do” List.

This is the first item:

1. Win tonight’s game.

When I crawled into bed, I had the nagging feeling I’d forgotten something, so I got back up and added:

2. Don’t forget: lose, you’re done.

I felt more comfortable with that. I put my head on the pillow. Still, something was nagging me. I got back up, took a pen and added:

3. Don’t do it all yourself.

4. Pass the ball around.

5. Move, don’t watch.

Five items is a lot; I was exhausted. I got under the covers. Then I remembered something else. Back to the fridge:

6. Remind Chauncey to make the easy pass not the spectacular one.

7. Remind Ben that boxing out is part of rebounding, too.

8. Remind Coach (Flip) that these are the NBA playoffs, you have to make adjustments during the game, not two days later.

There. I turned off the light.

Oops. I turned it back on.

9. Remind Rip that he is a great pull-up shooter. Do more of that and less driving the lane – especially when there is a 7-foot-3 Lithuanian in his way.

10. Tell Rasheed that being injured is one thing, but throwing lazy passes is another.

11. Tell Ben: THEY’RE FREE THROWS! THIS ISN’T FUNNY!

Don’t argue with the refs

Lights out now, I tried to fall asleep. I tossed and turned. I kept seeing LeBron James and his Abe Lincoln beard. I kept seeing Zyrdunas Ilgauskas and HIS Abe Lincoln Beard. I kept seeing Anderson Varejao and his Orphan Annie locks.

It was a night-mhair.

I got up and went to the fridge.

12. The Cavs had 86 points in Game 5 and 86 points in Game 1- but we blew them away in Game 1. It’s not them, it’s us!

13. LeBron is good. but so was Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson. Get over it.

14. They’re pretty much playing a zone against us; let’s crack it with movement and passing.

15. Let’s not act as if every foul call is a personal insult. It saps our energy.

Whew. The fridge door is almost covered. I barely can find the handle. I take out some ice cream. I notice the flavor.

Rocky Road.

Don’t act like a Wizard

I finally fall asleep. In the middle of the night, I bolt awake. I am sweating. A terrible dream.

In the dream, I am just another NBA player kicked out of the playoffs. In the dream, I am just another player on a team the Cleveland Cavaliers beat this spring – their first appearance in the postseason in … years.

In the dream, I am no better than a Washington Wizard.

I am bathed in cold sweat. I get up and go to the kitchen. I take a huge piece of paper and write:

16. We have rings. They do not.

17. We have experience. They do not.

18. We have done this. They have not.

19. I do not want to be a Washington Wizard.

I crawl back to bed. I feel better. I think back to something Chauncey said Thursday when a reporter asked if he was going to watch tapes of the times the Pistons came back from 3-2 deficits against Miami and New Jersey and Orlando.

“Not me,” he said, pointing at his cranium. “It’s all in my head.”

I write one more reminder.

20. For good luck, rub Chauncey’s head.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

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