And just when the Wisconsin Herd thought it was safe to dribble out the clock, thought they could come into Wayne State Fieldhouse and spoil the franchise premiere of the Motor City Cruise, none other than Ben Wallace blasted through the floor, stole the ball and scored six straight points on three thunderous dunks without a change in possession, leading the Cruise to a thrilling 122-121 debut victory over the stunned Herd—

Steve, what is this? I asked you to cover the game. Nothing you wrote here actually happened.

Exciting, right? Ben Wallace back in action, suiting up for the Pistons' G League team, leading the charge to victory against impossible odds. That's what the people want!

It would certainly be amazing if it happened, but it didn't. "Impossible odds" is just an expression. This story you concocted is actually impossible.

In what way?

For one, you can't score three baskets without possession changing.

I admit I wasn't totally confident about that part.

And why did you have Ben Wallace break through the floor? How would that even work? There would be shards of wood everywhere. They'd at least have to stop the game to fix the court.

Chief, you're too hung up on the details. No one's going to know.

They definitely will. You had the Cruise winning the game. They lost. And you don’t need to call me chief.

Come on, nobody cares about that nitty gritty stuff. Facts are boring. People hate facts. You want clicks, don't you? You gotta give folks a little sleaze.

Fake news and misinformation are dangerous. Now more than ever, people need reliable sources of information, sources they can trust. I don't know what they taught you over at The New York Times, but around here we have a little something called integrity.

You're right, Chief. I screwed up. I'm sorry. I was just trying to give the people what they want. It’s been a long time since Detroit sports fans had much to be excited about. I guess I just wanted to bring some of that magic back, but I blew it. I'll turn in my badge and gun.

I did not give you a gun.

You didn't?

No. We don't give out guns. We're an online magazine.

Then where did this gun come from?

I don't know. Please put it away. Listen, I know things haven't been great for the Pistons lately, but their future is brighter than it's been in years and having a G League team right here in the city is more important than ever to help them develop their talent.

That's an excellent point. The Pistons' former G League affiliate was all the way out in Grand Rapids. Having the Cruise right Detroit is going to be key when it comes to developing young players without the burdensome commute. Come to think of it, Luka Garza, who started the game, came off the bench for the Pistons the very next day.

See? This would have been an interesting angle for your article. You said you were looking forward to seeing these young guys up close.

Big time! And it was amazing. I'm telling you, it had the pace and excitement of an NBA game with the intimacy of almost a high school game really. It was about as close as you can get to the action of a professional sporting event without courtside seats. No matter where you were in the arena, it felt like you were practically on the court."

That does sound amazing.

It was. The brand-new Wayne State Arena is unlike any other stadium I've been in. It has an open floor plan with an entry corridor leading directly to the recessed court. The staff were friendly, the crowd was energetic. They had activities like you see at major sporting events, and even special sections overlooking the court for both VIPs and kids. There was a halftime show, and the announcer even reminded me of Mason.

It sounds like Pistons fans would love this.

Oh, they would. I'm sure of it. And you probably didn't even notice I haven't said anything about the players yet.

I did notice that.

Oh. Well, they were awesome. These second-round picks are really something. Saben Lee put up 33 points and 9 assists with a couple of blocks and steals. Luka Garza added 22 points and 9 rebounds, a block and a steal. Deividas Sirvydis had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three steals, while shooting 40% from three-point range. Garza's three-point shot was off, but the starting frontcourt can sure stretch the floor — plus they made all of their free throws.

That's intriguing. Especially since the Pistons don't have a lot of size at the moment.

Exactly. And the Cruise is still without 2021 second round pick Isaiah Livers, who starred at U of M and is still recovering from offseason foot surgery. He's going to add a whole new level of excitement for fans.

This all sounds plenty exciting even without him. You could have written this stuff and it would have been a compelling article. You didn't need to make up some fantasy about Ben Wallace being there.

Ben Wallace really was there! Although, I have a confession to make. He didn't play in the game at all. I made that part up. Because it sounded exciting.

Yes, we established that. But what was he actually doing there?

You don’t know? He's the Cruise’s basketball operations and team engagement advisor. I was five feet away from him. I swear he looked at me!"

Whoa! Did you try to get an interview?

I wanted to, but I got nervous. He's really tall. It's kind of intimidating.

He's big, but he’s not a scary person. By all accounts he's a really nice guy.

I panicked! I did get some grainy, far-away pictures of him if that helps.

Maybe a little?

Hey, what if we go the National Enquirer route and push a Bigfoot angle? Imagine the controversy! People will go to games just to try to spot him and take a blurry million-dollar photo."

Blurry photos of Ben Wallace aren’t worth a million dollars.

Not yet!

Steve, we don't need to stir the pot for clicks. Based on everything you've told me, this is a night of entertainment that sells itself. Thrilling, fast-paced action, world-class athletes, an electric atmosphere. It's affordable, family-friendly fun anyone can enjoy. And when you consider the broader implications for the Pistons and the city of Detroit, it sounds to me like the Motor City Cruise is a slam dunk!

You said it! Well, I guess I learned a thing or two about journalistic ethics today.

I hope so, because you had a very long way to go. What was all that stuff about being in good hands with Allstate, and "Once you pop you can't stop?" There were at least 50 corporate slogans scattered through your submission, none having anything to do with basketball. It was very distracting.

I thought I was pretty subtle. And lucrative.

You dedicated three paragraphs to a full review of Taco Bell's new Double Steak Grilled Cheese Burrito.

That part has to stay in the article. Yum!Brands paid me a lot of money to put that in.

I'm not publishing the article.

It’s got double the steak and double the rice!

I know, Steve. I read your review. Admirable steak-rice ratio.

Ugh. So what are you going to do? Tell your readers that you failed? The first game in Motor City Cruise history and you couldn't cover it? You’re just going to let them down?

No! I swore we’d never let our readers down. If only there was another way.

What if there was?

I’m listening.

Everybody knows that one of the many things you have in common with Richard Nixon is recording every conversation that takes place in this office.

Who told you that?

It's basically the worst kept secret in Detroit, Chief.

It was those meddling kids, wasn't it?

That's not important right now. Focus! What if you took this conversation we’re having right now and had it transcribed? Run it just like that. Sports journalism as a kind of one act play. People might think we did it on purpose. Maybe they’ll think we’re just being creative.

Hmm... That’s different. That’s meta. That's why we pay you the big bucks.

You don't pay me, unless you count the very reasonably priced Motor City Cruise tickets.

Well, keep coming up with ideas like this and someday somebody will. Ah, but it's going to take time to get this recording transcribed. The game will already be yesterday's news.

The game itself, sure, but that wasn’t just any game. It was a historical night that kicked off an exciting new era for Detroit basketball. The Cruise may have lost the game, but the night itself marked a huge win for the Pistons organization and the future of Detroit sports."

You're right, Steve. It's perfect. Heck, it’s only logical that we'd publish it around Thanksgiving since this is one thing we can all be thankful for. I'll just make sure to edit this part out and our readers will be none the wiser."

Do you think Nu?Detroit can pull it off?

I’ll just make sure to end the transcript right after "the Motor City Cruise is a slam dunk!"

That was a good line.

Which one?

"The Motor City Cruise is a slam dunk."