Listen. You want to get lost? Of course not. You are a busy journalist. You have bars to visit.
Let me help.
As a service to the many out-of-town reporters here for the NBA final, may I offer the following Step-By-Step Guide to the Pistons Locker Room at the Silverdome. We did this a few months ago for the Tigers at Tiger Stadium, and lost only two reporters.
OK. Ready? Got your pens? Let’s go.
STEP 1) Find the Silverdome.
STEP 2) Pick an entrance.
STEP 3) Pray that you are on the right side of the building. Remember that the Silverdome is not your average basketball arena. It is more like your average nuclear testing facility. If you have chosen the correct side — which, as near as I can tell, is pure luck — it will be a short walk to the Detroit locker room. If, however, you have chosen the wrong side, it will take you nine days to reach the court, and I hope you brought a sandwich.
(IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP): If you walk into a wall of amplifiers, congratulations! You have just reached the Monsters of Rock set. This is the concert that features the mellow sounds of Van Halen, Kingdom Come and Metallica, and which, because of a scheduling conflict, threatened to boot Game 5 to downtown Detroit. Now, however, both events will go on, although not simultaneously. Unless the Pistons go into overtime.
STEP 4) Eat the sandwich. You’re lost.
STEP 5) See that door? With the red, white and blue? Ta da! You’ve found it! The Pistons’ locker room! See Chuck Daly’s office? You can tell by the silk suit, the silk tie and the Italian shoes hanging on the rack. That is, you could tell. If the door was open. Which it isn’t. So much for that.
STEP 6) The trainer’s room. You are not allowed in here. Sorry. Even though the walls are all glass. So you can see the players making faces at you.
STEP 7) At last! The players’ lockers. You turn the corner and, hello — it’s Chuck Nevitt. Or Chuck Nevitt’s knees, if he’s standing. You might want to chat with Nevitt for a minute. Considering the next two players are . . .
STEP 8) Bill Laimbeer.
STEP 9) Rickey Mahorn
(IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: DO NOT STEP ON RICKEY MAHORN.) Mahorn, as you probably know, is the burly, gap-toothed forward who has been horizontal lately because of a bad back. Mahorn lies on the trainer’s table. Mahorn lies on the locker room floor. Let’s face it. Mahorn lies wherever he wants. Actually Mahorn is a decent guy. Except when you step on him. Then he’s liable to crack your skull and suck on your brains. You might want to know that in advance.
STEP 10) Continue on, past Walker Russell and James Edwards, the two latest guys to join the team. Edwards (nicknamed “Buddah”) is the droopy-eyed giant who looks like he needs a wake-up call to make the opening tap. Russell is the team cheerleader, the guy clapping and jumping and screaming, “WE CAN DO IT!” even if “it” is just taking a shower.
STEP 11) Keep walking. If you find yourself face-to-face with a tall, skinny person wearing lots of chains, you have reached either A) Eddie Van Halen or B) John (Spider) Salley.
Now. I don’t know what to tell you about Eddie, because I’ve never seen him dribble. Anyhow, if you find him, you’re in the wrong part of the building, so you might was well offer him a bite of your sandwich, because you’re history for this series.
Salley, on the other hand, is not to be missed. He rapidly is becoming the most-quoted person in this series. Ask to hear his radio rap (“I’m the man of the hour, too-sweet-to-be-sour”). Here’s a tip: Bring money. He might want to sell you a Spider pin.
STEP 12) Turn the corner. Go around the stationary bicycle (which is really stationary; in fact, I’ve never seen anyone use it). And there is Dennis Rodman, stretched out on a towel on the floor. IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: DO NOT STEP ON DENNIS. He’s liable to get Rickey.
STEP 13) SHHH! We have reached Ralph Lewis, Joe Dumars and Adrian Dantley. I don’t want to say this is the quiet corner, but I have seen people here checking out library books. Dantley and Dumars are good men and good friends. They do everything together. That’s Dumars on the left. No. The right. Wait. What the . . .?
STEP 14) Keep going. And it’s Vinnie Johnson. Also known as “the Microwave.” As far as I know, no sports writer has ever died from too much exposure to Johnson. But you never know. You might want to wear asbestos.
STEP 15) And finally, the captain, the smiling one, Isiah Thomas. He’s in there somewhere, behind the wall of reporters and TV cameras. Isiah talks softly, so you might have to get close to hear him. How close? Can you tell if he flossed his teeth this morning? That’s probably close enough.
OK. We’re almost done now. Turn left, past the giant TV set, down the corridor, and . . . ta da! You’re back where you started. That wasn’t too hard, was it? Now, let’s go enjoy the game. You turn right, and see a group of people dressed like yuppies at a cocktail party. We call them fans.
If, however, you turn left, and see a group of semi-naked screamers with colored hair, chains and earrings, I think you’ve found Metallica.
In which case, give them your sandwich. And run like hell.