In an office in Brooklyn, was a head mounted like a deer trophy. The decapitated head belonged to former Nets GM Billy King and was all that remained of the freewheeling general manager. One weekend, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov invited King to a luxurious retreat far away from Brooklyn so that they could “strategize” and King never returned. The most popular rumor was that a ceremony took place at a French alpine resort where Prokhorov and a dozen playgirls strangled King with a phone cord from the very phone that King used to make the trades for Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce. Pictures of the superstars drafted with the Nets’ 2014, 2015*, 2016, 2017* and 2018 draft picks hung from the ceiling.
Sitting below the mounted head is new Nets GM, James Dolan. The cordless phone shook in Dolan’s hand as he agreed to a trade. The Nets would send their 2020 first round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for a 40-year-old Kobe Bryant. Bryant, who was in his home for the offseason in Germany, rose from his hyperbaric chamber. After being injected with the blood of many ferocious animals, he had the ability to sense that something terrible had just happened.
In Brooklyn, a satisfied Dolan got up from his chair to walk the halls of the Barclays center. The halls, once filled with posters of proud players, and “Hello Brooklyn” slogans were now bare. Since the Nets loss to the Heats in the 2014 playoff series, things had gone catastrophically for the franchise.
An aging 2015 squad failed to make the playoffs, putting into effect Prokhrov’s guarantee to deliver a championship to Brooklyn by this year and his promise to marry should he fail. Prokhorov disappeared for weeks after the failed season ended and emerged arm in arms with a hideous and grotesque wife. Prokhorov believed that no single woman would ever be able to satiate him and spent weeks fusing together favorite body parts, several sets of arms, and fitting the body with three heads, thinking this would ward off the boredom of marriage. Prokhorov claimed to have created “woman perfect as me,” but was very clearly to everyone a Frankenstein monster.
Dolan felt his hand over the part of the wall where a picture of Deron Williams used to be. The once-prophesized savior of the Nets, Deron Williams, was the first to be disappeared. No one knows what happened to Williams, but backpackers in Russia found a body with crudely operated on ankles that appeared to be mangled by a multi-limbed creature.
Left without a starting point guard heading into the 2016 season, a frenzied King called every team in the league trying to orchestrate a trade. King was so desperate to trade a young talent that he offered many of the teams his next unborn son, selling prospective trade partners on the “massive potential.” This thought was shook from Dolan’s mind as he peered to the left down a cavernous hallway, lined deep with candles that were eventually swallowed by the abyss of darkness. Dolan shuffled quickly away from the tunnel and onto the Barclays Center court.
Dolan watched a decrepit Kevin Garnett pull up for a practice jump shot; the whole time a crew of Russian guards monitored Garnett’s every move. Dolan glanced over at the seats that Jay-Z and Beyoncé used to occupy. Jay-Z now attended the games with a Princess of Long Island who disgraced the league and the team by splashing opposing players she disliked with glasses of wine—Jason Kidd stood by nodding in approval at the wet floor.
Meanwhile, Beyoncé sat courtside next to Spike Lee at the Garden cheering on the dominant Knicks franchise. Since Derek Fisher teamed up with Phil Jackson and passed on the teachings of the Triangle, meditation, and all things zen, the Knicks had been made unstoppable, beating the Nets in every single one of their matchups and capturing a historic string of NBA titles. J.R. Smith, under the tutelage of Jackson and Fisher, had become the Pippen to Carmelo’s Jordan. In addition, Smith had become a fan favorite, famous on Twitter for his good deeds. Mostly, going to the houses of people with desperate plumbing issues and providing much-needed pipe—Smith had become a media darling and renowned philanthropist.
Every year the Nets struggled to field a team of late first rounders and past-their-prime vets. The Nets whiffed in every free agent opportunity and had even re-signed Travis Outlaw to lead the Nets through an atrocious season that made a dejected, and Aristotle-like Hov wish he had never spit, “The Nets could go 0 for 82.” Prokhorov sat in on free agent meetings with his wife and offered terrified prospective players “the works” from Natalia Olga Anastasia in exchange for their services.
However, nothing worked in Brooklyn, and while the Knicks levitated over Manhattan, Brooklyn became a volcanic eruption that served as a warning for other teams. The dangers of trading away your picks in a desperate attempt to steal a Finals victory can cause irrevocable damage to a franchise and can stall its growth interminably. A deluded Dolan fully believed, though, that this time he had cracked the puzzle, a real champion like Kobe Bryant would surely be able to help the Nets hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Walking back to his office, Dolan heard the sound of rusty chains being dragged across concrete and paused at the dark tunnel this time and stood stoically as the sound grew closer. Emerging from the darkness was a bald man in a tattered suit, and old, heavy chains at his ankles and wrists. Dolan didn’t budge as the man struggled to reach him, but eventually the two men stood face to face.
“Hello Lawrence Frank,” Dolan said.
“Here’s your daily report, sir,” Frank held out a piece of paper with a single line of scrawl.
Dolan took the paper and read the same message he read every day since joining the organization: It’s a great day for the Nets J.
Yes it was, Dolan thought to himself.
*The Hawks and the Celtics have the right to swap first round picks with the Nets in 2015 and 2017, respectively.