ALONE IN THE DARK

The other day, I played the tapes I had made of the Suns-Bulls series. I looked for Dumas.

It was sad. There he was, before the opening of the first game of the finals here against the Bulls. The crowd was going wild. The camera was on the Suns as they came down the chute and onto the floor just before the game.

Barkley led the way. Then there was Danny Ainge, and Dumas was right alongside them.

And then there were the introductions before the opening tip with the house lights turned down.

They announced Dumas' name. He jogged out onto the floor, seemingly in a trance. Negele Knight came up to Dumas and jostled him with his shoulder, once, then twice. Dumas pushed him off. He seemed annoyed, as if he were trying to remain focused. This was no time for horseplay.

Dumas headed for the spot on the floor where the rest of the starting team waited. He stood there, almost alone, chewing gum nervously.

Mark West, the giant pivot man, moved over to Dumas. He rubbed Dumas' head with affection. If Dumas was overly tense and insecure, West was letting him know that he was going to be out there on the floor with him.

They were all with him. But they couldn't be with him every minute of his life.
Some people fear success. Who knows, perhaps when Dumas signed that contract worth $9 million this past summer, it placed too much pressure upon him.

And now the sportswriters rush to their computers and tap out endless clich‚s about the horror of drug addiction. How many of them have walked the streets of a big city searching for a small bar to be alone in the dark?

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