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Stymie Magazine

Autumn & Winter ‘11

was smart enough to know I knew. Spin is my job, but in my experience, it only works on people who want to be spun. I could convince Ridiculous Upside that Fletcher was the most charismatic big man since Shaq, but it felt wrong trying to convince Fletcher. Still, duty compelled me to give it one last shot. --Forget the business. What about the game? Don’t you still love it? He stared at me for a good long moment. He seemed to be concentrating, like he was lining up a free throw. --Not as much as you do, he said. I gave him a yeah-right look. --Come on. --Who’s refing Suns-Spurs tonight? --Crawford, Wunderlich, and Malloy. --See? --It’s my job to know that shit, Fletcher. --No, it isn’t. Damn. Right again. There was no reason I needed to know who was refing a random midseason NBA game. I knew because Phoenix and San Antonio had a fun rivalry going, and Crawford had a history of quick whistles with Tim Duncan, so there was potential for drama. Back in Ft. Wayne I’d been trying to figure out how to program my Tivo from my Blackberry. --When you’re my size, Fletcher said, it doesn’t always start with love of the game. I let that one sit for a while. I noticed for the first time the music blasting from the hot dog stand: More Than a Feeling. Good god. Rick would be checking in any minute, and one way or another I’d have to bring this heart-toheart to a close. But between the stillness, the haze, and the schlock rock, I could feel a torpor coming over me. That vast blacktop might as well have been the lunar surface, we were so far from the world of lay-up lines, half-time tweets, and post-game stat-pimping. And I was starting to see why that appealed to Fletcher. --You passed on grad school? --Journalism. Michigan was offering me a full ride. --But basketball was more glam? --Not to me. Sebastian Junger, Jon Krakauer. Those are my boys. But basketball seemed

to be where I had a leg up. --You’re an amazing writer. Was I blushing? I couldn’t remember having done it as an adult, so I wasn’t sure. --The blog? It passes the time. You know, since I’m not into cards or shitting in the new guy’s shoe. A thought occurred to me, and it was such a good one, it was all I could do not to jump off that splintery bench. --You play for the Knicks, I can help you get a book deal. Fletcher smiled weakly, like his mom was telling him he could win the Pulitzer if he just put his mind to it. --Problem. The minute the team cuts me, no one’s going to care what I have to say. This time he was wrong, and the snotty kid sister in me had to fight the urge to wag my finger at him, Mutombo style. –The minute you step onto that court, your story has an arc. That’s how you get people to care. Not just the basketball freaks. Real people. Trust me. This is kind of my area. --What if I don’t even want to write about basketball? Now he was just being dense. – Basketball’s taken you around the world. You’ve met guys from every walk of life. Guys who come from nothing, and now they’re getting paid hundreds of millions to put a ball through a hoop. Black kids who never had anything but pride, and some white guy in a corner office is telling them what to say, how to dress. You’ve had teammates whose countries were at war. You’ve had teammates who were sleeping with each other’s baby mamas. Shit, I bet you and I know a half-dozen guys who are afraid to come out of the closet. I pointed my chin in the direction of the store. –If you look at your life and what you’ve been through and you don’t see anything to write about, then you should just go back to work. For a minute or two, he just hung his head, not answering. Then he looked at me from behind his floppy hair, the coolest hair in profes-

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Stymie - Autumn & Winter 2011  

The Autumn & Winter edition of Stymie Magazine featuring work from Curtis Smith, Corey Mesler, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Carol Gloor, Nick Ripatraz...

Stymie - Autumn & Winter 2011  

The Autumn & Winter edition of Stymie Magazine featuring work from Curtis Smith, Corey Mesler, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Carol Gloor, Nick Ripatraz...

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