The light gave way gradually, almost like a normal evening, but from night's darkest moment it continued to dim. The ball bounced from hand in a syncopated rhythm deprived of sound. The quiet -- like the dark -- smothered the air at the quietest moment.
In which Tony busts beats, 50 treats, Bonner sleeps, and RJ opts out
For hours now only the feel of the ball on hand guided Tony Parker as he dribbled down IH-10 into Los Angeles.
The darkness mattered little to Tony. He tied the tricolor blindfold around his head two days ago, back in Nevada. The red, white and blue tri-color blindfold made him feel like a French resistance fighter, like his grandfather. That made up for having to wear the Team Argentina jersey. At least he got to keep Number 9.
Though he heard nothing, Tony still whistled as he jogged. Occasionally he would bust some lyrics:
Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Din, dan, don. Din, dan, don.
* * * * *
Since retiring Spurs legend David "Five-Oh" Robinson ran a school. He took the younger kids on hospital visits every Friday morning.
When they were good (as in always) they stopped for vegetable smoothies on the way back. AND THEN got to spend the rest of the afternoon playing either soccer, basketball or chess, or drawing under the trees, weather permitting.
Since May they visited the same hospital: a private wing off the Spurs practice facility. Pop, Steve Kerr and him all thought that they drove "It" from the league back in 2003. Evil is not immortal, David knew, but it will live a very long time. He absently placed a protective hand on the head of a smallest child near him.
Matt "Brother John" Bonner's suite faced the elevators. A small redheaded girl placed a broccoli rabe and bologna sandwich on the cart next to his bed. She beamed pride as she carefully unwrapped the black and silver Number 17 butcher paper she colored the night before.
Court appearances aside, Matt had not roused since three games before the Playoffs. The girl brought him a sandwich every Friday, just in case he woke up.
David only brought the children to see Roger Mason when he slept. The loud shooting noises and spasmodic wrist flicks he made every waking moment freaked them out. David came back to see Roger later without the children. Poor Roger's handle was so unsteady. He could not drink a glass of water, unaided.
Last, Richard Jefferson's room. David liked RJ, everyone did. The ready, eager-to-please smile and little ears put people at ease. The children rushed to claim seats on the rug to the side of RJ's hospital bed. "RJ's Picture Story Hour Time!" they shouted semi-confused.
The books remained on the shelf next to RJ's bed, new ones there, too. But in RJ's place lie a neatly folded Spurs Number 24 white home jersey, autographed with black sharpie:
Going to join them. --RJ