Capers indicated that he would have—and then called one on Rothstein for asking the question.
The season already has been a long one for Rothstein, who six months ago was sitting on the Detroit bench as an assistant coach during the Pistons' championship series against the Lakers. But he has endured frustration before, notably in back-to-back winless seasons two decades ago at Eastchester (N.Y.) High. "I contemplated suicide then," says Rothstein, laughing, "but never quitting." And now?
"I guess the worst thing I think about is—what else?—actually going zero and 82," he says. "You look at the schedule and think, well, who are we going to beat? And when? Who's going to help us? It's tough."
Toughest on the Heat's veterans, who have been around too long to revel in the "Oh boy, tonight we play Michael Jordan" spirit that seems to prevail—at least for now. "We're goal-seeking individuals, like most athletes," says Sparrow, "and our self-worth is tied up in winning. It's hard to feel good about yourself when you're losing."
Adds Hastings, "Winning and losing are opposites, but the funny thing is, you can get used to both. And losing's the one thing we must never accept. We can have fun and try to look at things philosophically, but we've got to guard against a losing attitude."
Through last weekend, though, it wasn't easy for the Heat to have any other kind.