Tag Archives: Shot Fiction

Shot Fiction: Chris Copeland Joins The Pacers

Photo from Iguanasan via Flickr

The air in the visitor’s locker room was stale and dejected. Although the New York Knicks had just completed what was objectively their best season in 14 years, the subjective left very little room for comfort.

The Knicks thought – no, they knew they were better than this Indiana Pacers team. It just so happened that the weaker squad punched the stronger squad in the mouth, a bad mixture of happenstance and physicality.

Alas, the 6 game Conference Semifinals became the final act, a harsh, brutal climax where Gotham poets envisioned but more crescendo. As those despicable Pacers celebrated in unity, going so far as to send all five starters together to the post-game interview podium, each Knick stood alone and awaited his fate. Mike Woodson stood in the corner, not nearly as talkative as a coach should be, his mind racing forward, trying to project which of his players he is seeing in the locker room for the last time.

A drenched Frank Vogel walked into the locker room. His eyes were triumphant, his smile clearly visible despite his attempts to conceal it under a cloak of professionalism. Most of the Knicks looked away; while Vogel had earned this visit and the perks to come with it, they were under no obligations to comply emotionally.

Vogel stood amidst defeat like a looter in a burned village, squinting his eyes as he strained himself towards a decision. This was the second year of existence for the NBA’s Ron Artest Provision, a controversial turning point of the 2011 lockout that allowed a winning playoff team to absorb one player off the defeated squad, taxed only with the burden of paying the acquired player.

The ruling caused a major uproar when it was instated – called a “kick to the groin of parity” by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and a “poorly executed offseason post gimmick” by lesser figures. But it passed nonetheless, and any chance of it being overturned died a painful death after the buzz and excitement caused by Miami snatching Ray Allen from Boston after the 2012 Eastern Finals. Any publicity is good publicity, or so seemed to be the thought process over at the commissioner’s office, and Vogel was now entitled to get his as he saw fit.

“C…”

Carmelo Anthony looked up; he expected to get called all along.

“Copeland.”

Stunned silence.

J.R. Smith stifled a pout. Tyson Chandler’s ice pack dropped. Mike Woodson’s face, always the microcosm for his teams’ moods, looked like he forgot Copeland was even on the team, an expression that had become all too common throughout the actual series. Even James White looked insulted.

Nonetheless, Vogel and Copeland walked out the door. “I won’t let you down, coach”, said the former 29 year-old rookie. “Partners from here on out”, the coach answered, as the Miami Heat loomed in the background.

Shot Fiction: Mark Jackson, Across The Sea

David Moyes enjoyed his new office.

He liked the carefully ordered bookshelves and the sense of expectations that resided within every page. He loved the old wooden desk and the ancient laptop that rested on its oaken frame. And of course, the Wi-Fi was a great deal better than the dial-up service that he had grown so used to at Goodison Park.

As he listened to various team officials describe the club’s various to-do’s and exchanged terse text messages with Wayne Rooney, his mind remained untroubled. He responded promptly to Robin Van Persie’s Snapchat and read stories about his arrival with the careful eyes of a man who knows only alertness.

Moyes had already begun to shake off some old habits learned and fiercely memorized at Everton. He no longer began his day with finances. Now he ended with them, as a kind of vague treat to his long-suffering brow.

It was with a certain rush that Moyes opened that particular spreadsheet. For a moment, he could not allow his eyes to spoil the wonderful surprise and he forced himself to look anywhere else. When his gaze finally twisted its way back to the bright screen, he no longer suppressed his smile. Moyes swiftly folded his hands and laughed just a bit too hysterically.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Across the Atlantic, Mark Jackson unfolded his hands and stared across the Bay towards San Francisco. Like many men of his generation he yearned for everything on the horizon to be his. He knew that soon would it be. Lacob had guaranteed as much.

His hands comfortably returned to his suit pockets as he stood and all was at peace again. It was then that an uneven knock disturbed Mark Jackson’s concerns. He returned to his seat and called for whoever waited outside to please enter his office.

It was David Lee. Jackson asked him to sit and talk, and Lee obliged.

“So what’s going on, David?”

“Just wanted to talk about a couple of things, Coach.”

“Of course, anything!” Jackson belted back.

Lee glanced around the dark room and fiddled with the bobblehead of Andrew Bogut that rested on the edge of Jackson’s desk. Jackson pretended not to notice and waited for Lee to speak.

“I’ve been a little worried, Coach.”

“What’s troubling you, David?”

“Nothing, nothing.” David sighed and picked at his elbow. He was always picking at his elbow.

“I know you better than that.”

“Well, it’s just that, I’m worried I might not make it back this playoffs and I want to be part of this run—-“

Jackson held his hand up, palm open.

“David, you are a part of this team. Everybody feels you backing us and uses that energy, whether or not you play.”

“I’m just worried I won’t contribute. Worried I’m not doing enough.”

“You’re doing plenty. We all know you’re doing everything you can.”

Jackson put his hand on the bend of Lee’s shoulder.

“We’re doing this for you.”

Jackson rose and his hands drifted back to his pockets as he strode in circles. He hardly blinked as he spoke.

“You just worry about getting healthy, David. Maybe if we stay in this long enough, you can come back and help us out.”

“Like I did when I came back last series?” Lee laughed.

Jackson chuckled along with him.

“Well maybe more than that, David. Maybe more than that.”

A few minutes later when Lee had gone and left his fear behind, it settled into Jackson and he got to thinking about the curious case whispering itself into his striking ears.

Mark Jackson thought for quite a long time. He thought of David Lee’s resiliency, of his harsh rebounding and firm jumper, of how strongly he returned from a near death by elbow bite.  And finally, he thought of Monta Ellis.

Oh, Monta Ellis. Few names in this godly universe could inspire as much in the steady heart of Mark Jackson. He spoke it aloud now. He could not repeat the name without a rush of memories from his earlier days on the job accompanying its sound.

He thought of Monta’s jumper, his unblinking willingness to consume. A great consumer of possessions. That is what Mark Jackson thought of when he thought of Mont Ellis. He could not be counted on for everything, yes, but he could be counted to score. The only thing that ever changed was how many shots it would take to get there.

In the spring of 2012, Jackson and the rest of the Warriors’ management team made a choice when it came to the team and Ellis. It was a choice of extrication and painful amputation. Ellis had to leave for the body of the Warriors to grow and survive. And so Bob Myers and Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson and the rest made the grim choice to grow. Monta Ellis was traded to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Jackson had accepted the results with proper aplomb and quiet excitement. Something new was afoot, he felt.

And Jackson felt correctly. The course of the season and the burgeoning Warriors proved as much. The team ascended in new form and evolved into something greater with Coach Mark Jackson at the helm. Vibrancy ran in stride with Klay Thompson and Steph Curry as they changed the face of possibility with every dribble and shot.

He thought of all this only to circle the conclusion already existent somewhere within his furrowed brow. He had cut off a limb to save the Warriors’ body before and now he believed he must raise the dagger again.

He wrung his hands once more and wondered how many limbs the fates must decree to fall before the body may survive in a single form.

Jackson no longer contemplated David Lee. Now, he thought of the San Antonio Spurs and folded his hands again.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Somewhere far across the sea, David Moyes thought of all that could be his and unfolded his hands across the back of his neck. He leaned back and considered everything at the center of Old Trafford and the vast oblivion surrounding it. How things might change. How things might evolve.

Outside, it rained. And for now, Moyes was home.