Chapter 10:

Bruised Ego

64


New York CityBookmark here

New York, USABookmark here

There was a loud buzz of excitement in the Holy Spirit Private School gym. The High School league finals were about to be played there. Only the two best teams would compete at the penultimate stage of high school basketball. It was Holy Spirit Private Academy taking on Holy Cathedral High School from Atlanta, Georgia.Bookmark here

Keon Jordan Jr. was exited for the game. He knew that many college scouts would be attending this game, to scrutinize and detect talent. He firmly believed that if anyone would catch the scouts’ eyes today, it would be him, the most talented center of his generation.Bookmark here

The opponent team’s bus halted in front of the arena, and Keon’s muscles started to twitch. This wasn’t out of uneasiness or excitement, though. Keon strongly believed that he possessed a ‘Talent Radar’ in his body. He felt that, just by observing a player for a few seconds, he could judge how much latent talent that player possessed. His radar had never been wrong, always showing him an accurate measure of anyone’s natural knack for the game. Bookmark here

A few players got off the bus. “Hmm,” thought Keon. “Just about average talent.”Bookmark here

The coach disembarked from the bus. “Guys! Line up inside!” he ordered his team.Bookmark here

“Hmph!” thought Keon. “Old-head! Probably won’t even be alive in a few years!”Bookmark here

Another young man appeared from the bus. “Ha! Useless! Absolutely no talent!” thought Keon disrespectfully.Bookmark here

“If this is all the players they’ve got, we’re winning easy!”Bookmark here

It was at this moment that a muscular young player got down from the bus, yawning and slouching. He was slightly shorter than Keon, but possessed an equally athletic build. Keon’s muscles were now twitching violently. More input than they’d ever given him in his entire life.Bookmark here

The guy’s talent seemed to billow out of him like flames, radiating his raw potential. His incredible aspect appeared to scorch everyone and everything around him, charring the vicinity.Bookmark here

His name was Jared McRod.Bookmark here

If Keon Jordan Jr. was the most talented center (1) of his generation, Jared McRod was the most talented power-forward (2) of his generation.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

“Now I want a nice, fair, game!” yelled the referee, walking to the middle of the court to start the game. Bookmark here

“Goody two-shoes!” muttered Keon.Bookmark here

The game began with Holy Spirit having possession of the ball. Keon grabbed the ball and faced off against his matchup, Jared. The power-forward waved his long arms aggressively, trying to block any chance Keon would have of passing the ball.Bookmark here

Keon had no intention of passing the ball.Bookmark here

Keon leapt straight up into the air, already in shooting form. Jared also jumped up with him, but Keon had the advantage in terms of height. He shot a beautiful mid-range shot that went into the basket with a near SWISH.Bookmark here

2-0.Bookmark here

Jared caught the ball and shot towards the basket like a missile, Keon hot on his heels. He tried to score a layup but sensed that Keon had caught up with him. If we went with his shot, he would get blocked.Bookmark here

In a quick, fluid, motion, Jared flung the ball backwards instead of scoring. “Wait…what’s he doing?” thought Keon. “He didn’t score?”Bookmark here

A player already standing behind the three-point line caught the ball and shot it. “Huh? A no-talent fool?” thought Keon. “No way it’s going in!”Bookmark here

The ball fell in with a splash of the net.Bookmark here

“Huh. That was luck,” thought Keon, frustrated with the play.Bookmark here

2-3.Bookmark here

As the game went on, it was extremely clear that the two teams were evenly matched and played highly competitive basketball. They seemed to score at will and make a high percentage of their shots.Bookmark here

Overall, however, to Keon’s shock, the opponents always seemed to hold them at 3 points below their score. He was now started to get annoyed with the proceedings.Bookmark here

54-56.Bookmark here

6 seconds left for halftime.Bookmark here

Keon dribbled the ball slowly past the 3 point line. He spun past another one of the talentless guys and found himself face-to-face with Jared McRod. “I’ll dunk on him!” thought Keon. “I’ll dunk on him and level the score!”Bookmark here

The defenders swarmed Keon, determined not to let him score.Bookmark here

“KEON! PASS THE BALL! I’M OPEN!”Bookmark here

Keon ignored his teammate, Derrick White.Bookmark here

He had no intentions of passing the ball.Bookmark here

He went hard at Jared and leapt into the air, trying to throw down a powerful dunk over him. But Jared was prepared. He jumped up into the air, timing his jump to perfection.Bookmark here

SWAT.Bookmark here

Keon found the ball dislodged from his hands, blocked by Jared. It flew into the opposite side of the court and slowly rolled into the crowd.Bookmark here

Half time came at 56-54 with Cathedral High in the lead.Bookmark here

Keon had scored 30 of their points, alone.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

“KEON! YOU’VE GOT TO PASS THE BALL! YOU HEAR ME? YOU’VE GOT TO PASS THE BALL!” yelled the coach.Bookmark here

Keon ignored every word said.Bookmark here

He was staring intently at Jared McRod.Bookmark here

“Finally!” he thought. “Finally! A player of my caliber!”Bookmark here

The second half started and by now, Jared was starting to get under Keon’s skin. Whenever Keon tried to dunk, shoot, or do a layup, he’d find himself missing the shot because of pressure defense from Jared. He matched Keon’s speed with speed, and scoring with scoring. Keon soon figured out that Jared was equally strong as him. He wasn’t letting him fight his way through his amazing defense. Bookmark here

116-118.Bookmark here

“Three more points,” thought Keon. “Three more points!”Bookmark here

The opponents put three defenders on Keon, hoping to slow him down. By then, he had already posted 50 points and 15 rebounds.Bookmark here

“KEON! KEON! PLEASE PASS THE BALL! I’M WIDE OPEN! KEON! PLEASE! PASS THE BALL!!!!”Bookmark here

Keon had no intentions of passing the ball.Bookmark here

“No talent! Hmph! Only I can take this shot!” he thought.Bookmark here

Keon threw up a three point shot, ignoring the desperate cries of his teammates and coach. It flew in the air…Bookmark here

For about a second.Bookmark here

And…Bookmark here

WHACK.Bookmark here

The ball flew into the crowd, who let out anguished cries of despair. Bookmark here

Keon had been blocked, again…Bookmark here

By Jared.Bookmark here

Cathedral High School beat Holy Spirit Private School by 2 points, 118-116.Bookmark here

Media reporters swarmed Jared, trying to get a few words out of him. Keon watched in disbelief. He had posted a monster 50 points, 15 rebounds, and no assists. Jared, meanwhile, had posted 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists. Bookmark here

The 10 assists had made all the difference for Jared. It helped make up for the 10 fewer points he had scored, but he had helped score much, much, more.Bookmark here

“It was a great game!” said Jared, while getting crushed by his teammates’ embraces. “Shoutout to the guy Keon Jordan. Really brought his A-game today! But I guess we were the better team!”Bookmark here

Keon stormed into the locker room without shaking hands with the opponents. He punched the walls angrily, tears in his eyes.Bookmark here

“I’ll show them!” he screamed. “I’ll show them that I’m the best player on any team! The franchise player on any team! I could have won if it wasn’t for my lousy teammates!”Bookmark here

Far from accepting defeat, Keon was blaming his teammates for the loss. Unknown to anyone, Keon had turned into an absolute monster in those few seconds of crying. “I’ll destroy him someday!” he thought angrily. “I’ll destroy everyone! Talented, or talentless! I’ll become the face of any team I play on!”Bookmark here

What he didn’t know however, was that there was a man outside the room, listening to his ranting…Bookmark here

It was Marcello Rodriguez, the new GM of the Houston Spacewalkers.Bookmark here

“Doesn’t really strike anyone as a franchise player, does he?” Marcello thought to himself. Bookmark here

He walked back to see Jared McRod, still being squished by his happy teammates.Bookmark here

“This man,” he thought.Bookmark here

“This man doesn’t strike me as a franchise player either!”Bookmark here

He watched Cathedral High receive their trophy and lift it high up, screaming in joy. He got up slowly and left the stadium.Bookmark here

“Nobody understands what it actually takes to be the face of a franchise!” he thought.Bookmark here

“That’s a whole different league!”Bookmark here

Endnotes.Bookmark here

1. Center: The center is the tallest player on each team, playing near the basket. On offense, the center tries to score on close shots and rebound. But on defense, the center tries to block opponents' shots and rebound their misses.Bookmark here

2. Power-Forward: The power forward is often the team's most powerful and dependent scorer, being able to score close to the basket while also being able to shoot mid-range jump shots from 10 – 15 feet from the basket. Some power forwards have become known as stretch fours, since extending their shooting range to three-pointers.Bookmark here

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