In fair approximation of a maiden's armor, the Fat Lady wore two Volskwagen hubcaps on her chest.
On his chest, actually. The Fat Lady was a man, a 300-pound insurance agent named Dennis Vala, 32. He showed up at Capital Centre on Sunday in a yellow wig, lime green gown and a Viking helmet with those little horns. Cute.
"The hubcaps are off my VW," said the Fat Lady, thrusting her chest forward, starlet fashion. A woman at her side used a handerchief to polish the hubcaps.
"Your hair, Fat Lady, it looks like it's fresh off a dog's back," someone said.
Tenderly touching the ratty golden wig, the Fat Lady said, "Ol' Yeller."
"And that gown - a nightgown, isn't it? Whose . . . ?"
"I found it," the Lady said quickly.
A man taking notes asked, "When your keeper lets you out, where do you work?"
"I better not tell you," the Lady said. She laughed and went off to have her picture taken with Elvin Hayes.
By 35 points the Bullets won game six of the NBA championship series Sunday. So just when folks in Peoria thought this thing would last until Christmas, the championship game comes up tomorrow night in Seattle. And if the Fat Lady and four dwarfs could have won game six, the Bullets can win tomorrow only by playing better than they did Sunday.
No way Seattle can be that bad again.
And the Bullets were not that good.
If Bobby Dandridge and Elvin Hayes shoot only 40 per cent tomorrow night, as they did Sunday, the Bullets cannot win.
If the other three starters, Wes Unseld and Kevin Grevey and Tom Henderson, score a total of only 14 points, as they did Sunday, the Bullets cannot win. We might replace Grevey there with Charles Johnson, who played most of the way, but even that raises the three-man total to only 29 - not enough.
No one can expect the Bullets' bench to score 63 points again, nor can anyone expect the Seattle starters to make only 20 of 61 shots again.
What happened Sunday was as misleading as the Fat Lady's hubcaps.
Seattle came to town sightseeing. They enjoyed the sunny day. Freddly Brown threw one in the Reflecting Pool from atop the Washington Monument, and Marvin Webster went one-on-one with the Air and Space Museum, afterward saying it's bigger than Wes Unseld but not as strong.
Having won game five for a 3-2 lead and with the final game set for their home court, the Sonics could lose Sunday and yet win the championship another day.
Not so the Bullets.
More often than not, the professional basketball team that wins on the road is not only superior in talent but also in motivation. Both ingredients must exist. Seattle on Sunday had neither. Again the Bullets demonstrated they are the better team. And Seattle simply didn't care about winning.
Paul Silas said as much. He's Seattle's old man of a forward, 34, a grandfather of two weeks. The Sonics' starters are relative babies, four of them in no more than their third pro season. They total 17 years in the NBA (the Bullets' starters have 36 seasons). For Silas, this is his 14th year. He's been places, seen things. He remembers Boston.
Silas played on two world championship teams in Boston, the '74 and '76 Celtics. "Those were veteran teams," he said. "They knew they better win every series as soon as they could.
"But this team, our team today, is young and doesn't have that playoff experience. So I'm sure that what's in the back of a young club's mind is, 'Well, even if we don't prevail today, we've always got Wednesday.'"
No one in the Seattle locker room would say it, because professional athletes don't like to admit such things, but the effect of 19,035 customers and the Fat Lady screaming for the Bullets also was an important factor in Sunday's game. The voices will roar from friendly throats tomorrow night.
And it does, in fact, matter, especially in a game like Sunday's. There the Sonics could do nothing right and the Bullets did nice things and soon enough the sounds of celebration crushed Seattle's will and lifted the Bullets on a running high.
On example of perhaps 10 such incidents . . .
The game hadn't been decided with the Bullets leading 57-48 and eight minutes to go in the third quarter. But in a minute and 18 seconds, the Bullets scored 10 straight points - and the last of those streaking points came on a play that produced thunderous noise.
Unseld couldn't get his hands on a defensive rebound, so he smartly tipped the loose ball toward Tommy Henderson, who flew downcourt, the waterfall of noise rising. Henderson missed the layup, but there came Hayes, lifted by sound, flying in behind the little man to put in the rebound.
"They wanted to win so badly," Paul Silas said of the Bullets. "They came out today and set the tempo. They were the aggressors. They said, 'I'm going to go for your jugular.' And they did."
"Both teams, not just one, will be looking for that jugular," the grandfather said.