The following are excerpts from an unwritten novel, about the Minnesota Timberwolves, not by William Faulkner:
Andrew and I come out from the locker room, following the tunnel in single file. Although I am ahead of him, anyone watching us can see Andrew’s potential is more than my own.
The concrete floor runs straight to where it meets the hardwood of the basketball court, where everything is well-lit and the media flocks with their cameras and their microphones. Most of the seats are empty now.
A metal rack with orange balls sits in the middle of the court. Some of the balls lie scattered around the floor. When we reach it I turn to tell Anthony something that would be hilarious if spoken out loud. He is just fifteen feet behind me, looking straight ahead, steps in a single stride over the scattered basketballs to the rack. Still staring straight ahead, his dark eyes like stones on a stony face, he crosses the floor in four strides with the rigid fluidity of a cigar store rookie dressed in basketball shorts and a jersey and endued with life from the hips down, and steps in a single stride through the lane and dunks in the path of where there should be an ongoing layup drill. He splits the two single file lines that stand fifteen feet apart. He is now in front. I walk the path towards my place in line.
A golf cart sits near the stanchion and its protective foam. In the back of it sits an older man who may have once been a baller but now he is not much more than bone and sinew. He is corpse-like. The rest of the team starts conducting layup drills.
When I reach the front of the line no one passes me the ball. We all stand in a litter, waiting for something to happen. Rubio picks up two balls. Between the shadow of the backboard and the golf cart with the old baller’s corpse he squints along the edge of the court. He lowers his gaze from the empty rafters and takes up dribbling. A good point guard. The old man could not want a better one, a better box score to be a part of. We will make him proud. It will give him confidence and comfort. I pick up one of the stray basketballs. I dribble it twice. I leave the ground. I release the ball towards the basket. I do not look to see if it goes in but I hear someone oooooooooing, followed by the
Smack. Smack. Smack.
of Rubio dribbling.
I made it to this level.
1. I play best when surrounded by Gasols.
2. Kevin Love is a stat machine.
3. I have never seen the Playoffs.
4. Where is Kevin Love?
5. Who are Andrew Bennett and Anthony Wiggins?
6. Kevin Love is no longer a stat machine.
7. Animal magnetism.
8. I think I’ve heard the initials KG before.
9. Google KG.
10. The animal magnetism of a dead body makes me hungry.
11. There is a basket on either end of the court.
12. The court runs for 94 feet and is 50 feet wide.
13. I made it to this level.
14. kilogram. Got it.
This Kevin guy is a coyote.
It’s not your legs that are dead, Andrew,” I say. He looks at me over the edge of the green Gatorade cup, paper-thin. His brow soaked free with sweat. He lowers his head, looking along the court towards the scorekeeper’s table. “See them?” I say. High above in the stands, against the empty rafters, are what looks like more people. From here they are no more than specks, implacable, impatient, know-nothings. “But it’s not your minutes he’s taking.”
“Goddamn you,” he says. “Goddamn you.”
I cannot love KG because I have no KG. Andrew’s mother is LeBron.
Motionless, the rafters are full of shadows that look like buzzards. I am trapped inside an illusion.
Motionless, metal, padded, these chairs are rigid. Something is waiting for me, ready for me to be moving on towards it, waiting for a former number one draft pick. Andrew stands up because some coach called his name. He slips out of his warmup gear. He walks towards the empty space in front of the scorer’s table.
“Goddamn him. Goddamn him.”
It wont balance. If you want it to be balanced, we will have—”
“Pick up the pace. Goddamn you, pick it up.”
“I’m telling you he’s not that fast anymore and he wont run unless it’s balanced—”
“Pick up! Pick up, goddamn your soul to the wolves of hell! Pick up!”
“But we’re already in Minnesota.”
It wont balance. If they want it to make the Playoffs and be balanced, they will have
“It’s Rubio and Andrew and Nikola and Anthony,” Flip says, kind of hound-toothed and proud, with teeth all white and his hair all combed, even if he wouldn’t look at us. “Meet our new lottery pick,” he says.
Bryan Harvey can be followed @LawnChairBoys.