PISTONS LETTER-PERFECT:IT’S SIMPLE AS A,B,C

OK. You’re at a cocktail party. You’re standing on the table. You’re waving your arms, howling like a moose, you’ve got the whole room listening to you. . . .

And you blank out. You were about to tell them why the Pistons will win their third straight NBA championship, starting with Game 1 of the playoffs tonight at the Palace. You were about to tell them why the other NBA teams are not that good, why the Pistons have nothing to fear, now that Earl Strom has retired.

But you blank out. Your mind goes dead. You’re standing there, mumbling,
“I . . . uh . . . wait a second. . . .”

Never fear. I have prepared the following alphabetical list of reasons why the Pistons can indeed three-peat — 26 reasons from A to Z. This way, all you need do is remember the alphabet, which you already know. I hope.

Ready? Here we go. A is for Atlanta, the Pistons’ first opponent; if they’re so tough, how come Detroit swept them this season? B is for Boston, the likely second-round opponent; if they’re so tough, how come everyone keeps picking Indiana to upset them? C is for Chicago, the likely third-round opponent; if they’re so tough . . . um . . . if they’re so tough . . . um . . . well . . . let’s come back to this one. D is for Denver. Or dead. Same thing. E is for Earvin, as in Johnson, and we don’t have to worry about him until the Finals, right? F is for forward, where the Celtics were always the strongest. But right now, with Kevin McHale a bench player and Larry Bird in perpetual back spasms, the top starting forward on that team is . . . Kevin Gamble. G is for . . . Gamble?

No, G is for guard, where the Pistons have been thin all year. But the fact is, tonight, they open the playoffs with Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Vinnie Johnson and Gerald Henderson, the same quartet they had last June, when everyone was calling them “the backcourt of the century.” H is for Hastings, Scott, who really ought to introduce himself to Chuck Daly. Just in case Daly says, “Who’s that tall guy that just got on our bus?” I is for inexperience, which will bring down any western team the Pistons face in the Finals. Except for LA or Portland. And because I haven’t reached the L’s or P’s yet, why worry about them? J is for Jordan, Michael Jordan, king of the universe, ruler of the planet, master of all he surveys. But if he’s so tough . . . um . . . we’ll get back to this one. K is for Koncak, Jon Koncak, the Atlanta center, who, for all that money, still averages a whopping 4.1 points. Here is what I want to know: When Jack McCloskey watches this guy play, does he have to cover his mouth to keep from laughing? L is for Lakers, who don’t all have the same desire as Magic Johnson, no matter how much of his salary he gives them. M is for Moses Malone, once unstoppable at center. Tonight, however, you’ll see an older, slower version sitting on the Atlanta bench, giving new meaning to the phrase, “Go down, Moses.” N is for New York Knicks, who ought to be eliminated from the playoffs in, oh — let me check my watch — about five minutes. O is for Olden Polynice. He doesn’t have anything to do with the playoffs. I just like saying his name. P is for Portland. And for pray. And for please. As in, “Let us pray someone beats Portland, please. Amen.” Q is for, um . . . Q . . . let me see . . . Q. R is for Rollins, Tree Rollins, who really should introduce himself to Chuck Daly. Just in case Daly says, “Who’s that tall guy sitting next to Hastings?” S is for Sam Perkins, also known as Sam (Has The Game Started Yet?) Perkins. And if he’s the guy to lead the Lakers back to the title, I’m Meryl Streep. T is for toe. Joe Dumars’ toe. Step on it, we kill you. U is for the Utah Jazz, who would probably have to beat Phoenix, Portland and

LA just to reach the Finals. By that time, they’d be dead from exhaustion. V is for Vinnie. Don’t forget, everyone wrote him off last year, too, and there he was, in the final game, hitting that jumper with :00.7 on the clock. W is for wrist. Isiah’s wrist. Touch it and we kill you. X is for Xavier McDaniel of the Phoenix Suns. I have nothing to say about him, but he was the only X. Y is for young players. The Pistons don’t have any. Good. They only get in the way during the playoffs. Z is for Zincus Cum Pistoniauns Trias, which, in Greek, means “Pistons win three in a row.”

Actually, I made that last one up. But if they’re still listening to you at this point, they’ll believe anything.

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