Ginobili vs. Dracula, Chapter 26

In which George Hill watches Manu, Tony Parker can't believe what he sees, and Michael Finley is out of sight (but never out of mind).

Fourth quarter against Phoenix. George Hill shut his eyes and let a pass ago, just like in the video game the night before. Suns guard Jason Richardson grabbed the ball and raced to the basket for the lead.

So instead of a ball, George threw an "oops" to Manu Ginobili. Hill waited for an "it's okay," his sophomore shrug in full effect. But Manu did not notice. The Argentine ran full steam, staring at the home team's basket and Richardson, iron in his eyes. Somehow... Richardson blew the wide open dunk.

Spurs 113, Phoenix 110

After the game, George overheard some of Coach Popovich's post-game interview, "It was also a little good fortune, But, sometimes, that's what it takes."

George shook his head. There was nothing lucky about Richardson's missed dunk. Ginobili blocked the shot.

* * * * *

Tony Parker sat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter, still feeling the effects of the wine from the night before.

He went to bed early that night, or did the bed come to him, dribbling a ball. Tony lunged at the passing lane and grabbed the rock from the slow-footed mattress. Tony found himself on the black court again. On the sideline -- was that Eva with pom-poms, dressed in purple and yellow?

* * * * *

Michael Finley arrived early to Terminal One. He tucked the boarding pass in his sports jacket -- Business Class to Boston -- and pulled a book from his shoulder bag, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. A tarot card marked his place: the Eight of Cups, on it an illustration of an old man walking into a dark green forest.

Popovich handed him the card when they met late that night. Ginobili had a taken his shoulder and they walked to the parking lot. The prophesy must be fulfilled.

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