MIAMI — Oh, so that’s Dwyane Wade. That’s the guy we’ve been hearing about up north the way we hear about tropical storms or hurricane damage. And just like those things, you really can’t appreciate the power until you’re in the middle of it.
Suffice it to say, the Pistons are now wet. And a few of their windows have been blown out as well.
Let’s get this said right now: Dwyane Wade was all the things in Game 2 that he was not in Game 1: He made baskets, he made plays, he made lay-ups, jumpers, free throws and sweet passes. He pulled up for bang-bang shots, he tipped in baskets, he saved a rebound to Shaquille O’Neal for an easy basket (isn’t that supposed to work the other way around?), and he monster-slammed the ball with more force than any of “the bigs” on either team.
He scored 20 points — in the fourth quarter! He played above the rim, above his size and above the rest of the players on the floor. I thought at times he was shooting webbing from his wrists and swinging from the rafters.
And because of Wade’s excellence, the Heat won, 92-86, and is still alive in this series. The Pistons can blame themselves for too many turnovers and too many missed free throws and too many moments in the first half when they seemed content to play from behind.
But in the end, they made the game even, and then Wade took it away. Detroit had Tayshaun Prince on him during that fourth quarter — unlike in the second quarter when he sat the entire period with two fouls — and still Wade was able to break free for every kind of basket (he looked like a one-man NBA catalogue), including 10 straight points and the game-ending slam on a fast break that was, appropriately, a solo affair.
It’s all tied up now
Here is how good Wade was: You almost forgot Shaq was on the team. Wade was there on the bust-outs, he was there on loose balls, he was above the Pistons and ahead of the Pistons and, at one point, even behind the Pistons, when he blindsided Chauncey Billups with a block from the rear. You swore he was playing with four legs and four arms. He finished with 40 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
“He’s pretty good,” said his coach, Stan Van Gundy, in perhaps the understatement of the year. Wednesday night was a special performance by a special talent.
“I helped my team get a win tonight and that’s all I can ask for,” Wade said.
Well, for one night anyhow. Wade proved that there are two sides to every story — and sometimes, a front and a back story as well. Notice has been served. The series is tied.
Miami is not hot air, even if the air is hot.
Hello, Larry; good-bye, Larry?
OK. That’s the front story. Which brings us to the back story, before the game — rumors, once again, about Larry Brown’s future. A New York Times story started it, citing an unnamed source that claimed Brown had spoken with Cleveland’s new owner, Dan Gilbert (the mortgage mogul from Michigan), about a front-office job next season.
Great. Just what Pistons fans needed.
That story was followed by more stories after Brown spoke at the early shoot-around. And those stories were buoyed by more comments Brown made during a pregame news conference.
All of a sudden, it’s not a whisper, it’s an issue.
Now, granted, the easiest way to deflate a rumor is to quit talking about it. But that goes both ways. The media could stop their yapping about Larry Brown.
But Larry could stop his, too.
Instead, what seems to happen with these “Where’s Larry Going Next?” stories is that they come out, Larry is vaguely quoted — not an admission of anything concrete, but not a true denial, either — and then the story takes wing and it starts flying and next thing you know, Larry is surrounded by reporters and he sighs and wonders how things get so out of hand.
Now, I like Larry. I truly do. I get him. I recognize his need to be appreciated, like when he made this comment Wednesday concerning his health after this season, “I already told Joe, if he wants to get another coach … (but) he told me it’s OK with him that I go see a doctor. I think within 72 hours I’ll be able to let him know. If he wants to make the change before then, I can accept that. …”
Um-hmm. In my house we called that “the guilt trip.”
Wednesday should not have been about that. It should have been about the game, and the Pistons putting a stranglehold on these Eastern Conference finals. Instead, in the TNT broadcast, there was David Aldridge telling viewers that Larry would “check into the Mayo Clinic” after the season. And he was quoting Tom Wilson as saying he’d grant permission to Larry to talk to Cleveland during the playoffs.
What does any of this have to do with playoff basketball?
The answer is nothing. So we shouldn’t be talking about it. And neither should Larry. There’s no time for distractions. No time for rumors. The Pistons, on Wednesday, saw the Heat and the Humility. It wore Wade’s number.
And it’s coming north.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or email@example.com”