Ginobili vs. Dracula, Chapter 8

"I released the ball, I was kind of like, ‘No effing way. No way this ball’s going in,’" Kobe Bryant blinked. The shot did go in and it gave the Lakers a 103-102 victory over the Heat at the Staples center.

This time Kobe felt genuine humility. He knew the unworldly last-second shot was taken by another, a figure in black seated court-side where the cameras saw Jack Nicholson. With 3.2 seconds left and Lakers trailing by two, the Dark Prince's eyes glared crimson and his will became a left-leaning, one-legged, backboard three that just happened to leave Kobe's hands.

"It felt good." Kobe stopped himself.

"I’d like my chances if I had squared up and got the shot I’d wanted to," Kobe muttered under his breath and cut the interview short.

An empty bottle of Hennessy rolled out of the Escalade as it bumped to a stop on the wall of the Lakers Training Center in El Segundo. Out tripped Ron Artest on his way to the late night practice session.

Still elated over Kobe's impossible shot, Artest tried out some steps from the Souljah Boy dance. "They were trying to deny him, and I knew it was impossible," Artest bombasted, sustaining a broken high note on impossible, a karaoke take on the Wu Tang song.

Oblivious, Artest interrupted something. The flicker of thirteen black wax candles provided just enough light to see the his teammates seated lotus-style in a circle around a low altar covered in a deep purple velvet. On the altar lay a curved dagger, recently used, and a crystal goblet filled with a dark red liquid. Each team member had a small purple bandage on their left wrist. Standing in the center of the circle was that same tall white dude who took Jack Nicholson's seat, Coach Jackson kneeling at his feet.

"I do not suffer fools," the Dark Prince snapped with a brief glance in Ron's direction. Ron dropped his gym bag on his foot and punched himself square in the face. The wind-up threw him on his back.

Ron, out.

"Where were we?" The Dark Prince savored the sound of candles singing air... "Ah, yes, the inverted pentagram offense."

Coach Jackson handed his master the goblet and the Lakers huddled, arms-over-shoulders. They helicoptered around the altar, tighter and faster. In the center Dracula poured from chalice, statue slow. The inkish fluid soaked into the virgin cloth and ignited a cold, blue flame in formation of a one-in, four-out, strong-side post. The team studied the dark parody of a play.

"Jackson can explain the intricacies." Dracula stretched. The team opened their circle to let him pass, their heads bowed. The Dark Prince sauntered to his black leather and sailcloth gym bag and flicked the empty chalice to the sideline where Ron-Ron began to stir.

The glass splashed on the concrete, rousing the mercurial forward. Ron-Ron took a breath and imitated an auto-tune, "The Black Mamba, you know what I meannnnnnnn!"

Before reaching into his bag Dracula brushed his shoulders off. He did not turn from his Blackberry as Ron stormed into the stands and clocked himself in the face.

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