The Bullets are hot and so is Doug Hinds. Look at him. Up on his feet! Down in his seat! His $320-a-season, front-row-behind-the-bench seat. Back on his feet, screaming, always screaming: "Your prejudice against Haves is showing, Richie! You've been that way all year! It's about time you changed! It cheapens the game!"
Hinds is a lawyer, even when he berates official.
And through it all, his heart beats on. And on. He gives his heart to the Bullets, puts his heart in his favorite team. It starts up slowly Friday night, 90 beats a minute before the National Anthem. By the time Hayes shoots and the Capital Center reverberates with EEEEEEEEEEE! with 41 seconds to play, Hinds' heart is hitting 130 beats per minute.
Hinds knows what his heart is doing because he's wired to an electrocardiograph for the game. Sander Mendelson, chief of the coronary care unit at the Washington Hospital Center, is sitting next to Hinds, watching the machine whose leads he has attached to Hinds' chest.
Two minutes 43 seconds to go in the fourth period. Things are hot but Hinds is calm. Outwardly. His heartbeat is hitting 120. "It's his most excited calm," says Mendelson.
Hinds is in good shape to start with. He weighs 200 pounds, but then he stands 6-foot-5, and at 36 that's doing all right. He plays volleyball, softball, "gym-rat basketball" and runs - "getting some exercise three times a week."
But he puts his heart in the Bullets. The phrase is "a man is made out of muscle and blood," and Hinds heart works to pump that blood.
Not as hard as a coach's heart, certainly. A study a few years back of a group of coaches showed their hearts pumping during games at up to 180 beats per minute. That's real pumping!
Hinds may not become as involved in the game as, say, Dick Motta, but he's right up there. By using a formula involving Hinds' blood pressure and heart rate, Mendelson determined "he just about doubled the work of his heart. With physical activity, he could probably go considerably beyond that. I found it impossible to tell what his breathing was because he was yelling so much."
Doesn't Doug Hinds, an attorney with the General Services Administration, in a midnight blue pinstripe suit and slightly loosened tie, feel just the tiniest bit foolish jumping, screaming and waving his arms, as a result of the antics of a group of professional athletes who are paid huge sums of money to run back and forth across a wooden floor throwing balls through hoops?
"Yes! Sometimes. But you have to think about that and, 500 years from now, who's going to know? If I ever reach the point where dates won't come to a game with me because I embarrass them, then I'll stop.
"When you're down here (on the floor), you're part of the home-court advantage - if you're not going to scream, then you shouldn't be here."
And Hinds takes his advice seriously. None of this "Yer blind!" or "Whatayourcrazy!" stuff for him. He lectures with the finesse you'd expect him to save for a jury. Complete thoughts. Complete sentences. A minimum of ad hominum attacks.
"You lack consistency, Paul! Your calls aren't consistent!"
"Why don't you call them at both ends? You were right, but you have to call them at both ends!"
He doesn't want to heckle, he wants to influence, change the calls, shape the outcome of the game.
"You asked about feeling foolish. Well, the other thing about feeling foolish is that a friend of mine said he saw a Duke game on TV and he heard somebody heckling in complete sentences. And I do heckle in complete sentences. Yelling 'Yer blind!" is just pure emotionalism.
"You have to be right when you tell the ref something. When I was a student) at Duke, I could pull two or three calls out of the refs in a game," says Hinds. "But in the pros, the most you can expect is a few makeup calls."
You might think Hinds is a bit of a fanatic. But he says no. He doesn't even go to all the games.
"I split the two tickets with another guy. There are other things in life besides pro ball, like college basketball, books, good food, dates. One gal here who works-on the Hill flew to San Antonio for a game. I would no more fly to San Antonio . . . That's amazing to me!"
But Hinds was rather amazing to Dr. Mendelson. "You sweated your electrodes off in five minutes," Mendelson told him, a tone of slight disbelief in his voice.
What Hinds goes through in a game, what he puts his heart through, is much like the stress of physical exercise "without the benefit of exercise to the muscles of the body," Mendelson explained after the Bullets had defeated San Antonio, 103-100, to advance to the finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
"Total body exercise entails increased flow of blood to the muscles and skin so the (blood) pressure is up but the flow (of blood) is up, as well. With this, you have increased pressure but not nearly as much flow to the muscles and skin."
A person with a sound heart, relatively normal blood pressure and otherwise good health should have no trouble going through what Doug Hinds experiences for the Bullets.
However, said Mendelson, "I can certainly see somebody with "angina"-pain caused by insufficient blood flow to the muscle of the heart-"not being able to watch and not being able to get the numbers (blood pressure and heart rate) he got."
While it is possible to measure heart rate and blood pressure under stressful conditions like the Bullets' playoff win over San Antonio Friday night, "There really is no test for emotional stress" to tell in advance how much of his heart the individual fan can afford to give his or her favorite team.
Doug Hinds knows he'll go on giving his. But he would never want to get out on the court and take over the referee's job. "There are too many loudmouth fans in the stands" for that, he says. "I wouldn't want to be heckled by these people, particularly me."