Originally published in SLAM 62

Michael Finley knew something was up when the security gate didn’t open for his Escalade. Pulling into American Airlines Arena wasn’t normally this difficult. “Louie!” he yelled. “What’s the deal?” The security guard ambled over, brushing Twinkie crumbs from his pants. “Name?” “I’m Michael Finley.” “Uh-huh,” the guard responded, slowly reading down his clipboard. “I play for the Mavs,” Finley offered. “Sure. Can I see some ID?” Incredulous, Finley dug through his Vuitton bag, finally coming up with ID. The guard scrutinized. “OK. Go ahead.”

In the locker room, Mike saw wires. His personal HDTV screen was gone, as was his Playstation 2. Seeing him, assistant equipment manager Dwayne Wilson shouted across the room, “Sorry Mike…Nick’s broke… you understand, right? We also lost your shoes. You’ve got extra, right?” Grumbling, Finley walked through the tunnel toward the court, greeted as usual by screams and Sharpies. “Mike! Mike!!!” Turning to sign, he heard, “Hey Mike, could you get Dirk to sign this?” A chorus joined in, “Could you get Dirk to sign this, please? Please!!!” Finley just turned back toward the court.

Minutes before gametime, Mark Cuban stopped him in the tunnel. “I just want you to know how much you mean to this team, and that if you ever need anything—anything—you can just call.” “Thanks, Mark.” “Sure, Greg. “Uh, it’s Mike.” “Whatever. Hey, did you see Steve on Letterman?”

“This needs to stop,” Finley thought as the opening tip went up. “I gotta do something so I’m not completely forgotten.” Sorry, Rasho.

Russ Bengtson