"What time is your game today?" she says.
The game. To Vlade, this year's NBA playoffs mean next to nothing. "I love basketball," he said earlier, "but it's just entertainment, just business." He longs to be with his people, to be there to do something. But one night his father, Milenko, told him, "Son, there's nothing you can do for us. Just play basketball and make us proud."
So Vlade did just that. Groggy, weakened, stressed, he went out and played the best basketball of his life. In fact, he played sensationally, helping the Kings win 10 of their last 11 in the regular season and turning the playoff series with the heavily favored Jazz into the best of the first round. How? Is it because he now knows what pressure really is? Or is it because those three hours on the court are the only joy in his day?
Ugly faxes and E-mails come to the Kings' offices, attacking Divac as the bloodthirsty enemy, but Divac deplores Milosevic's murderous ways, protested against them in the Yugoslav streets last summer. His boys are American-born. This summer Divac hopes to become a U.S. citizen. "I think God is testing us," he says, "to see how cruel we can be to each other."
Finally he sleeps a few hours. Wakes. Calls again. Takes the bus to the game. The Utah players look fresh, ready. Divac looks like hell. The crowd is nuts. Across the floor, the TV guy in the double hair spray and the silk tie looks into the camera and says, "Folks, this is do or die."