Gregg Popovich woke in a green translucence of sunlight filtered through empty bottles. He raised his head to focus on a drool stained box score, a nubbed pencil, and sketches upon sketches of utter nonsense disguised as strategies:
- A five guard line up with Tony Parker, George Hill, Keith Bogans, Michael Finley, and Roger Mason Jr?
- Hill at the 4 and Timmy off the bench. Mason at center with Richard Jefferson running the point. Bonner assigned to guard the other team's best perimeter player and run off screens like a mongoloid Reggie Miller?
- Each Spurs to run side-by-side in a perfect horizontal line down the court, back-and-forth in unison, like a rake crossed with a foosball team?
One page was black with dense sketches of spirals superimposed upon the painted area of a basketball court. Another page had ideas for roster changes:
- Ask RC -- Spurs general manager RC Buford -- about signing Stephon Marbury away from his team in China. Is Steve Francis available?
- Trade Ian Mahinmi, DeJuan Blair, and the rights to Tiago Spitter -- his every big man prospect -- for Larry Hughes and Nate Robinson -- undersized, shoot-first guards?
- Ask RC about moving Manu to the Hawks for
Joe JohnsonJamal Crawford?
Pop smirked, then glanced at a note written in decisive capitals ...
He could not finish reading it. A blasphemy in his own hand from some forgotten hour? He ripped the paper to shreds, suppressing tears and nausea. He quickly tied the office trashbag. Gripping his stomach, he jogged it to the custodial closet. Pop thought twice: he removed the bag from recycling and double-bagged it. It should be brought back to his office, kept safe.
Popovich shut the door and his stomach gave way -- right on top of his Slovenian hand-woven 2003 Spurs Championship rug. The vomit shined black and smelled like flash-fried stink cheese. It clung noxiously to the weave. Pop would have to throw the the rug out.
What was in that wine?
* * * * *
Even a mid-level NBA player's salary allowed certain amenities. For that Roger Mason Jr. was grateful. The shooting range was a nice local business tax deduction. As the majority partner he could close it off for private use whenever he liked.
Mase shaded the tinted windows of the business entrance. The sun filtered in as a sad yellow, the dried tears of a departing day. Roger wanted to see Gil's gun in that light. He jacked it from its careful wrapping and held it sideways, like a still from a 90s gansta' movie. It did glisten, like super-gold!
He took a self-portrait with the gun, i-phone in his free hand. The Earl Monroe Baltimore Bullets throwback looked bad ass! The photo would be money on his Facebook page ...
Mase gave it a second thought and erased the jpg. Posing in another team's jersey might cost him some San Anotonio love.
He loaded the gun carefully with the shiny .500 S&W Magnum bullets and practiced his swag, shuffling like a mellow pendulum to the range.
Feet squared, he waited until the day's light illuminated its last grain of dust . On the bare moment between night and day he raised his hands and lined the 6.5" barrel with the distant target, custom-printed to look like a basketball rim.
BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM
Mase's arm jellied from the recoil. He laid his pistol down and ran to the target.
His closet shot just grazed the margin of the paper net. All misses: 0 for 5.
* * * * *
Coach Jackson leaned over the potential trade memos from the General Manager's office. His Master had nearly drained Pau and wanted fresh talent: Chris Bosch? Jackson grabbed a handful of crikets-and-carob and munched as he fingered his way down the list of Lakers:
Derek Fisher: The Master valued obedience and was pleased.
Ron Artest could still be useful. Jackson always led the laugher when Ron-Ron punched himself in the face. Often Jackson would still chuckle even after he silenced his team with a whistle. His Master was not the humorless drear his reputation suggested. Old nobles like to keep a jester on the court.
Adam Morrison: did he need to be two-deep at jester?
Sasha Vujacic: how did he keep forgetting about him?
Kobe Bryant ...
Jackson leaned back in his chair and worked an antenna out from between his teeth with the nail of his forefinger. Kobe was like Jordan in many ways. His time with the Master would come, soon, like it did for Jordan and all the rest.
* * * * *
Adam Morrison paused the Sega Genesis to observe the time: 4:20. He high-fived himself in the webcam and hit re-start. Lakers vs. Celtics in the '89 playoffs and he was Larry Bird!
Change history, dude.