I don’t often dress up for Halloween, but then I don’t often lose golf games to Charles Barkley either. In 2012, I did both.
Barkley’s a bit richer than I, so when we wager, the currency is humiliation. Before we played our annual game in September, he reminded me that we’d be sitting front row with Dr. Jack Ramsay at the Sixers’ season opener on Halloween. The loser, we decided, would have to attend the game dressed as Big Shot, the former Sixers mascot.
The opening horns of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” blared tinnily from somewhere out of sight. This, I assumed, would be George Maloof’s grand entrance. He appeared on horseback, wearing shorts and a half-buttoned shirt, holding his phone high to broadcast the song. Gavin and Joe cheered.
I’d chosen not to work the investigation after the Malice at the Palace. I didn’t want any part of that hangover. Still, I ended up Detroit anyway, training police detectives and legal investigators to become basketball P.I.s for a particularly competitive lawyers’ league. Not my favorite assignment, but a basketball P.I. can’t live on love of the game alone.
The afternoon symphony of car horns below my hotel window didn’t make for much of a lullaby, but then, this hadn’t been much of an assignment. I’d come to Brooklyn as a favor, to help a rookie basketball P.I. investigate a CYO point-shaving operation, which turned out to be just one kid with an anxiety problem and another who thought it was un-Christian to blow a team out.