Chapter 2:

School Team Tryouts.


Setagaya City, TokyoBookmark here

JapanBookmark here

The passengers on board the train were heading home after long, mundane, days at work. Apparently, everyone was having a miserable day. The poor souls did not want to prolong their agony anymore. They were only thinking of a peaceful train ride and a nice sound sleep. Bookmark here

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be.Bookmark here

Some of the passengers let out a loud groan as a tiny kid with not one, or two, but four basketballs, got onto the train, bumping into people at random.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry,” he apologized profusely. “Excuse me!”Bookmark here

“Kids these days,” thought a tiny old lady angrily. “Absolutely no manners! Wonder who’s raising this fine creature.”Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

Ichikawa Kobayashi (1) got off the train at Shibuya. His home was a little distance away from the train station. Like many Japanese people, Kobayashi preferred to use public transport and walk any extra distance. He started his walk home.Bookmark here

The Ichikawa family residence was the most ordinary house in Shibuya City. Probably in all of Tokyo. Kobayashi entered the house and took off his shoes. “I’m home!” he announced.Bookmark here

“Welcome back!” answered his mother. “How were your school basketball team try-outs?”Bookmark here

“Amazing!” grinned Kobayashi. “I posted twelve points and twelve assists! A double-double! (2)”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s great! Hopefully, you get selected!” said his mom.Bookmark here

“Oh, I’m getting selected all right,” said Kobayashi confidently. “My numbers don’t lie.”Bookmark here

He proceeded to his room, got changed, and got his homework done while listening to music. Kobayashi wanted to excel in everything, basketball, academics, and even things like singing and dancing. His extreme competitive spirit stemmed for the fact that he was always made fun of. And all the teasing would only go on to ignite a fierce competitive spirit in the boy. Everything he did, he had to do it perfectly.Bookmark here

He started seeing flashes of the try-out game he’d just played. He’d shot a three pointer five times, and he’d made four of them. Each shot would arc like a perfect rainbow and SWISH. Bookmark here

He then started to focus on his assists. Kobayashi had developed his ball handling and shooting to be a good scorer. But his sharpest skill was his passing. Each of the passes he’d thrown were perfect. They’d streaked between the hapless opponents’ legs, over their heads, beyond their outstretched arms, to find themselves safely in the hands of a teammate, who would then score the easiest basket of his life.Bookmark here

“I managed to throw the ball under two people’s legs at once and into my teammate’s hands,” he thought. “Their reactions were legendary!”Bookmark here

Kobayashi had but one goal. To sharpen each and every skill in his book, and one day, make it to the NBA. But the dream didn’t stop there. Far from it…Bookmark here

Kobayashi wanted to be the first Japanese NBA player to win a championship ring (3).Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

“The players who tried out for the school team will be receiving emails regarding their selection status”, announced the principal on the school microphone. “I wish everyone the best.”Bookmark here

After the announcement, Kobayashi’s classmates had crowded him, cheering and wishing their friend the very best. Even in the cafeteria, they were joking about how he’d forget them after joining the school basketball team. Bookmark here

Suddenly, three other students started jeering at the group. Kobayashi recognized them as fellow players who’d tried out for the team. “What’s the matter, guys?” he asked.Bookmark here

“It’s actually kind of funny that Kobayashi thinks he’s making the team,” said one of the boys.Bookmark here

“You’re not making the team, stupid.”Bookmark here

“Or any team.”Bookmark here

“You’d better resign yourself to this fact.”Bookmark here

“I’m making the team!” said Kobayashi incredulously. “My numbers don’t lie!”Bookmark here

The three boys broke into heart guffaws and burst into a poor imitation of Kobayashi. “Numbers don’t lie!” Bookmark here

This was met with further peals of laughter.Bookmark here

From the entire cafeteria Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

Kobayashi sat in his room, eagerly awaiting the email. The fire inside him was burning. He wanted to prove those fools wrong. He knew he had what it took to be a great basketball player, and an NBA champion.Bookmark here

One hours passed. Two hours passed. Four hours passed. Kobayashi nodded off to sleep, courtesy of the long, boring wait time. Finally, his phone blinked. He bolted awake and grabbed it, tapping on the email with trembling fingers. Bookmark here

What he saw was incredible.Bookmark here

The players who had made the team were:Bookmark here

1. Daisuki Akiteru. Bookmark here

2. Hiiyama Yuuki.Bookmark here

3. Nakamura Kentaro.Bookmark here

He looked at the name of the rejected candidates and his name was sitting on the very top.Bookmark here

1. Ichikawa Kobayashi.Bookmark here

What he saw was incredible.Bookmark here

Incredibly disheartening. Bookmark here

Reason for Rejection: Bookmark here

Kobayashi let out a loud sob.Bookmark here

Reason for Rejection: Not tall enough.Bookmark here

Kobayashi’s tiny frame, which had earned him ridicule throughout his life, was now acting as his biggest bane. A thorn in the path of his dream.Bookmark here

Kobayashi failed to make his school team. After posting a double-double. Bookmark here

Endnotes.Bookmark here

1. Ichikawa is his last name, and Kobayashi the first name. It’s common in Japan to use your last name first.Bookmark here

2. A double-double is a stat line achievement where two of your stats are in the double-digit range.Bookmark here

3. When an NBA player wins a championship, he is awarded a medal of honour, and a ring signifying his achievement.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.