Stan Van Gundy wiped the sweat from his eyes, took a swig of Diet Coke, and tried to focus through the smoke. Lucky we played New Orleans in the first round, he thought. Probably wouldn’t find a voodoo priestess in Detroit.
“You’re back?” The low voice swirled out of the smoke-filled room like music. “Um, yeah,” Van Gundy stammered from the doorway. “You did a terrific job with Jamal Mashburn and all—thank you—but we still have to play a Game 7 this week, and I just want to be sure.” A long sigh. “You’re telling me that with Lamar Odom, Dwyane Wade, Caron Butler, Eddie Jones, Rafer Alston and Brian Grant—and homecourt advantage—you’re still going seven? Unbelievable.” Crickets chirped. Something unidentifiable splashed in the bayou muck. A gentle breeze disturbed the humid air. Van Gundy strained his eyes to penetrate the darkness. “Well, we won all our games at home so far, we just want to be absolutely sure. You understand, right?” The sigh again, like ancient wind. “Have you brought what I need?”
Van Gundy nodded, reached into his carry-on, pulled out a teal headband wrapped around a stack of hundreds. “This should be all you need—just make his back a little worse or something. Nothing career-threatening. Just enough to make things easier.” Presuming silence to indicate consent, he tossed the offering through the doorway, and turned to go.
But one step away, he turned back. “And if you could do something for Caron, that would be nice, too.”