Chapter 13:

Betrayal

64


Houston, TexasBookmark here

USABookmark here

It was a very ordinary morning at the Westbury Hotel. One of the employees laid out the day’s newspapers on a table and marched away to clean the hotel. The receptionist sat in front of her computer typing in data ceaselessly. Bookmark here

It was then that a tall man walked out of the elevator and to the reception. “Hello, ma’am,” he addressed the receptionist, who nearly jumped out of her skin. “Sorry. Can I have today’s newspaper? Need to check something.”Bookmark here

The receptionist was now wide awake and shaken out of her reverie. “They’re on the table, sir.”Bookmark here

“Thanks, miss. Have a good day!”Bookmark here

Danny Reynolds sat down in front of the table and picked up a newspaper. He read the headline twice to confirm it.Bookmark here

HOUSTON SPACEWALKERS SIGN STEVEN WALKER AS NEW HEAD COACHBookmark here

He felt proud of Steven for finally getting a chance at being the head coach of a team. Just a year ago, he was selling Mexican food at a Chipotle outlet in his hometown of Omaha. Now, he was getting his first head coaching job. Even if he was going to coach a failed team like the Houston Spacewalkers, this would finally be his chance of establishing his legacy in the coaching world.Bookmark here

It was Danny’s last chance as well.Bookmark here

To save his legacy.Bookmark here

He had been told by Steven to fly to Houston immediately after his appointment. Steven had promised him, after all, that he would sign Dan to a contract and allow him to play basketball again. All he had to do now was meet Marcello Rodriguez, the GM of the Spacewalkers, and negotiate terms.Bookmark here

Dan didn’t expect a huge contract. He just needed enough to fend for himself.Bookmark here

And send his daughter, Alice, to college.Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

Dan walked into the Houston Spacewalkers’ front office and met with Steven. After congratulating Steven profusely for his achievement, Dan was told by two visitors to the room that Marcello Rodriguez was looking for him.Bookmark here

“Alright, Stevie, see you later!” said Dan, leaving with the two men. Bookmark here

“Get yourself a decent contract, Dan!”Bookmark here

Dan acquainted himself with the two men during his short trip to Marcello’s office. One was Christopher Stevenson, a scout for Galveston Tech. He was there to give Marcello his players’ stats. The other was Khalil Al-Farooq, the head coach of the Houston Spacewalkers’ G-League (1) Affiliate Team (2), the Sugarland Venom.Bookmark here

Khalil knocked on Marcello Rodriguez’s door and entered, the other two behind him.Bookmark here

“Gents,” said Marcello. “Please take a seat.”Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

The contract negotiation was easy. Marcello seemed to be a fair, thoughtful man. It did not take him long to come up with the best offer possible for Danny. A three year, 41 million dollar contract. This would not only allow Dan to live a life devoid of financial worries, it would allow him to afford his daughter’s college fees and make her dreams come true.Bookmark here

It was, as he felt, his duty as a father.Bookmark here

Marcello knew that a veteran like Danny would make be an amazing partner to his superstar player Josh Okongo, the best small forward in the league. The two could end the Spacewalker’s Championship Curse!Bookmark here

But, that wasn’t to be.Bookmark here

Josh Okongo stormed into the office, startling the men in the room. Marcello recovered quickly from the unpleasant entrance. “Josh! Good to see you! This man right here is Danny Reynolds, also known as Sniper Reynolds. He’s a veteran shooting-guard. We hope that a duo of you two can take this team forward!”Bookmark here

Josh gave Dan a disapproving look. “Cancer!” he muttered.Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“I’m not here to dance to your tunes anymore,” said Josh angrily. “I’m here to, very nicely, demand a trade from this team. I’m tired of losing!”Bookmark here

Marcello and Dan sat there, flabbergasted and insulted. The minute something good seemed to be happening for the team, their franchise cornerstone player was trying to get out.Bookmark here

“I’ll do you a favor and tell you where I want to go,” he continued. “Send me to Baltimore. I can finally win a chip there!”Bookmark here

“Listen, Josh,” implored Marcello. “I have a plan. We’re signing multiple players to good contracts. We’re going to be aggressive in recruiting free agent players as well! So please, can you give me and this team a chance?”Bookmark here

Josh’s eyebrows were knitted in utter fury. He took a few deep breaths. Then, he stormed out of the room.Bookmark here

His phone started ringing. He answered the call hastily. “Hello?”Bookmark here

“Hey, Josh, it’s me, Stanley Smith! I’ve got you on conference call with Deandre Washington and Petar Varga!”Bookmark here

Petar Varga was the shooting guard of the New York Skyscrapers, and he was tired of his team.Bookmark here

“How’s the trade coming?” asked Stan.Bookmark here

“Free agency (3) next year, man!” said Petar. My ticket to Baltimore and a championship!”Bookmark here

“Great!” said Deandre Washington. “What about you, Joshua?”Bookmark here

“Bad,” said Josh. “They won’t let me go. Saying they want to build a good team around me! But this organization is trash and the city is cursed, man!”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry,” said Stan. “I have a plan…”Bookmark here

*Bookmark here

The next day, Josh sat down for a press conference. Multiple journalists from varying news channels, papers, and websites showed up for the event. Everyone had only one question in their mind.Bookmark here

“Hey Josh,” started a journalist who had been allowed to ask his question. “Multiple rumors have surfaced about you wanting out of Houston. Can you address these rumors?”Bookmark here

“Yes,” said Josh. “I really want to win a championship, guys. I’ve put in all my time and effort. But it isn’t working out. We all want to move towards a championship, but I doubt this team is really moving in that direction. I honestly don’t think this team is good enough to win, nor will it ever be good enough to win. It’s tiring, man. It really is!”Bookmark here

Satisfied with his speech, and the horrified faces of the journalists, he got up from his seat and left the meeting. He then called Marcello Rodriguez.Bookmark here

“Hey, go watch the news. Once you do, make the decision and get me out of this circus you’re running here! You can have the clown Cancer Reynolds as your main attraction. As for me, I’m going to Baltimore! Take whatever they offer you, and let me go, man. Thanks for everything!”Bookmark here

Marcello slumped into his chair in a swoon.Bookmark here

The fans’ hero, and their best player, their franchise cornerstone, their one shot at a title, had betrayed them.Bookmark here

The Spacewalkers were indeed cursed.Bookmark here

Endnotes.Bookmark here

1. NBA G-League: It is the NBA’s official minor league basketball organization. It contains athletes who are almost NBA-level or have the potential to be NBA-level. Bookmark here

2. G-League Affiliate Teams: G-League Teams that an NBA team fully owns and operates its affiliate team. NBA teams primarily use their NBA G League affiliates as a place to develop their young talent. Players with three years of service or less can be sent, or “assigned,” to the NBA G League an unlimited number of times. The NBA team retains an assigned player’s rights and can recall that player at any time. NBA teams often install the same offensive and defensive systems – including the same terminology and even some of the same plays – on their NBA G League affiliates.Bookmark here

3. Free Agency: A free agent is a player who is eligible to sign with other clubs or franchises; i.e., not under contract to any specific team. The term is also used in reference to a player who is under contract at present but who is allowed to solicit offers from other teams.Bookmark here

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