Five Years before the Prologue
The buzzer sounded after twenty four minutes of play, indicating the end of the first half of the game. The Oakland Knights were leading the Baltimore Barrage 66-49 at halftime. It seemed that the Knights were the only team in possession of the ball. Not only that, they were scoring at will.
Danny Reynolds was not happy with the efforts.
In the locker room, he noticed the disappointment and frustration on the faces of his teammates. But he decided to be blunt and honest with them. He knew this was a highly talented squad. But he also knew that his defense was the only reason that the Knights weren’t up by 30 points already. He waited for the assistant coach, Steven Walker, to hand out water bottles to everyone. He then tried to bring back his team’s morale with a speech.
“Guys, listen up. We’ve still got twenty four minutes left in play. That’s twenty four minutes to fix all the mistakes we’ve been doing! We’re still in this, guys! The game’s not over!”
He then turned to the individual players.
“Stan, their point guard (1) has been driving past you all day! You’ve got to up the defensive intensity, man! You’ve got to keep that man in check! And Andre! You’re not being aggressive enough on the boards, man! Fight for every rebound! Box them out! Keep them out of the paint! (2) We need every last rebound from you! We need…”
“Dan,” said the head coach, Rick Smith. “That’s enough.”
Danny Reynolds bit his lips and sighed. He wanted to make everyone aware of why they were down by seventeen points at halftime. “Every large deficit has a root,” he thought. “No team is down by those many points without a cause!” However, he decided to sit down.
What he didn’t notice, however, was that the two men, Stanley Smith and Deandre Washington, were glaring at him in absolute fury. They didn’t like being called out like that. The veins throbbed in their temples and their hands twitched weirdly, itching to strangle Danny Reynolds.
“Come on guys, let’s go,” said Rick.
Stan decided to cool himself down and wash his face. In the washroom, he suddenly received a call. It was Josh Okongo, an excellent, all-star caliber (3) small forward (4). He currently played for the Houston Spacewalkers. And he wasn’t happy.
“Man,” he said. “This organization is trash man! Bunch of no talent, low IQ players! God, I hate this place! Anyway what’s up with you, my man? What’s going on there in Baltimore?”
“We down bad to the Knights man,” said Stan. “The dude Dan Reynolds thinks he the boss here or something. Insulted us in the locker room. Thinks we not playing hard enough. The man doesn’t get it. We have only two all-star caliber players on this team! That’s not enough! How we expected to win with only two all-stars?”
“I’ll tell you what,” said Josh. “I’m going to force my way out of this godforsaken city, man. I’m bringing my talent over to Baltimore next season. We winning that championship. Word, man.”
“Sounds good, Josh,” said Stan, “You’ll never win anything there. Houston never winning a championship. The whole world knows it.”
The end of the game was brutal. Baltimore went down badly to Oakland. 130-99. The players were furious and exhausted, physically and mentally. They went back to their locker room and started wiping themselves down. Coach Rick started telling them how proud he was of their efforts and that the game was just ‘dumb luck’ for Oakland. Then, it was assistant coach Steven Walker’s turn.
“It was a tough loss, no doubt. But how do we learn from this? How do we get better for the future? We do this by identifying our mistakes and fixing them. Please, guys, listen to Dan. He speaks from experience. We’ve got to be more intense and aggressive!”
By now, Stan and Deandre Washington were fed up with this nonsense. “You mean Dan, who’s never even made the finals in a twelve year career?”
“Dan is a veteran guys. He’s been in the league for years. He knows how to win. He knows why teams lose. You have to listen to athletes who speak from experience. You’ll really benefit from it.”
“What a bunch of baloney!” thought Deandre. “I’m sick of this.”
Dan showed up early to practice the next day. He worked out, ran some laps, and started to shoot the ball. Dan was recognized as one of the greatest shooting guards (5) of all times. He was even a former all-star. This was before a horrible injury derailed his career. Still, the injury did nothing to affect his shooting. He was still the same man who was christened ‘Sniper Reynolds’.
Assistant coach Walker helped Dan by tossing the balls to him and collecting runaway balls. He gave him some water after one round of shooting.
“They’ll learn, Dan. They’ll soon see you for the veteran leader you are,” he said reassuringly.
The other players and coaches showed up late, yawning and slouching. They shot some balls for a while. Head coach Rick called for a meeting.
“The front office has made some tough decisions after yesterday’s game,” he said. “The Baltimore Barrage organization has decided to part ways with two men. To those two, we truly value your services for this city.”
“First, assistant coach Steven Walker has been fired.” He took a deep breath. “For his episode yesterday.”
“WHAT?” yelled Dan. “FIRED? ARE YOU CRAZY? HE’S THE BEST MOTIVATOR AND GUIDE THIS TEAM HAS!”
“Second,” continued Rick, ignoring Dan. “Mr. Danny Reynolds has been waived by the organization. For…ah…offensive and unsportsmanlike behavior and insulting teammates. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Dan was furious. He’d only called them out because he knew that they were playing the game lazily. Stan was one of the quickest guards in the league. Yet, he refused to move his feet to guard the opponent. Deandre might have been one of the top rebounders in the league. But that was only due to his height of seven foot two and his long arms. He was extremely sluggish and lethargic and refused to actually fight for rebounds. A good rebounder was an absolute asset for any team. Even if he was five feet tall.
Dan and Steven Walker slowly packed their stuff, said their goodbyes, and left the arena. The two men decided to go for a drink. They slowly started to pour out their troubles.
“My wife on my heels all day,” said Walker. “She wants me to send our kids to a private school. Now, I’ve lost my job,” he chuckled. “Oh she’s going to be mad.”
“At least she’s with you,” grumbled Dan. “My wife left me years ago. Apparently, she didn’t want to be married to a failure of an NBA player who never won a championship in twelve years,” he added, gesturing to himself.
“I really miss her, man.”
Dan was heavily drunk, trying to drown out his sorrows in alcohol. He tossed and turned like a madman and kept saying, over and over again.
“Why won’t they understand, why?”
He suddenly realized his phone was ringing. “Hello, Dan Reynolds here, how may I help?”
“Man! They kicked you off the team! Wow! What a relief for us!”
“Hey, Stan,” said Dan.
“Coach keep blathering about ‘unsportsmanlike’ and ‘insulting’! Let me give it to you straight, Dan. This team, or no team, not even the Houston Spacewalkers trash, have any need for you. You know why, Dan? You’re not a bad player, man. Just a bad teammate!”
“You’re a cancer in the dressing room!”
1. Point guards are expected to run the team's offense by controlling the ball and making sure that it gets to the right player at the right time. it is typically the point guard who brings the ball down the court to begin an offensive play. Passing skills, ball handling, and court vision are crucial.
2. The paint in basketball is a rectangular area on the court extending from the foul line to the baseline with perpendicular lane lines enclosing the shape. It is also known as the foul lane, or the key for short. The paint gets its name from the shading done on courts to denote its shape.
3. All-star team is defined as a team made up only of top performers who are the most skilled and accomplished.
4. The small forward is considered to be perhaps the most versatile of the five main basketball positions. Small forwards are responsible for scoring points and defending, and often are secondary or tertiary rebounders behind the power forward and center. In professional basketball, some have considerable passing responsibilities, and many are prolific scorers.
5. A shooting guard's main objective is to score points for their team and steal the ball on defense. Their primary role is to score points. As the name suggests, most shooting guards are good long-range shooters, typically averaging 35–40 percent from three-point range. Many shooting guards are also strong and athletic, and have the ability to get inside the paint and drive to the basket.