A man sat in his room in a gloomy, dreary atmosphere. He didn’t know if what he had done was going to end his career. He could end up getting fired the next day. As the city of Houston lamented the forced departure of their franchise player and superstar small-forward, Josh Okongo, the man who had traded him, General Manager Marcello Rodriguez, had been left in the most deplorable state he had ever been in. He’d worked twenty five years as a scout, and deputy GM. Finally, finally, he’d gotten a chance to be the General Manager of a team he had been loyal to his whole life. Now, just like that, all hope seemed lost, seemed to be drowned in an ocean of agony.
The television screen in front of Marcello Rodriguez was playing a news report by Houston Today. The reporter, a tall, attractive woman in her late twenties, enounced into her microphone. “Today, the city of Houston grieves the departure of superstar small-forward, Josh Okongo. What the Houston Spacewalkers organization has received in return, are two first round picks and two second round picks in 2025 and 2026. This could possibly be one of the worst trades in NBA history! The citizens of Houston are furious with this subpar trade that has fleeced their organization. They are demanding for the resignation of GM Marcello Rodriguez! What will the ownership of the team do? What will…”
Marcello turned off the TV angrily. He leaned backwards on his chair and put his hands on his head.
“I had no choice, guys,” he sobbed. “I had no choice!”
He thought of the small handgun he had in his drawer. Why struggle, he thought, when he could end it all…
Suddenly, there was a knock on his door.
“Come in,” said Marcello.
Two men entered the room. They were his old friends and partners at work. Together, they had vowed to bring only the best prospects to Houston…and end the curse.
One was Christopher Stevenson, a scout for Galveston Institute of Technology.
The other was Khalil Al-Farooq, the head coach of the Houston Spacewalkers’ G-League Affiliate Team, the Sugarland Venom.
“Hey, Chris,” said Marcello. “How was your trip?”
“Great!” said Christopher Stevenson. “Found some amazing international players, but missed an amazing player as well.”
“Who did we miss?” asked Marcello.
“Keon Jordan Jr,” said Christopher. “The University of Manhattan got to him first.”
“Keon Jordan Jr? You mean Keon Jordan’s kid? That legendary center of the New York Skyscrapers?”
“The very same,” replied Christopher.
“What does everyone at Galveston Tech think?” asked Marcello.
“They’re pretty dismayed, to be honest,” sighed Christopher. “They can’t believe that the most exciting player I’ve found is a five-foot-four point-guard from Japan!”
“Five-foot-four?” Marcello raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t judge, Marcello,” said Christopher confidently. “The guy is a crazy good ball-handler, shooter, and passer. He’s a legit NBA prospect!”
“Hmm,” said Marcello. “What’s his name?”
“I see,” said Marcello.
“I was trying to recruit another player onto the G-League Team, Marcello,” said Khalil Al-Farooq. “University of Manhattan got to him first again. That’s two guys they’ve swiped from us!”
“Come on, guys!” grumped Marcello.
“We might land him in the draft in two years, though,” said Khalil. “Here’s his highlights reel,” he added, handing Marcello his iPad.
Marcello scrutinized the video. He was thoroughly impressed.
“Odai Beckham Jr, is it?”
“Yeah, that’s his name.”
“This isn’t a G-League level player, Khalil,” chided Marcello, handing his friend back the iPad. “This guy’s almost NBA-ready!”
“Have you been watching the news, Marcello?” asked Christopher.
This was the part Marcello was dreading. “Yes, guys. It’s not good. You think I’ll get fired for that trade?” he asked worriedly.
“The team ownership will wait and see what we do with those draft picks, Marcello,” answered Khalil. “If none of them turns out to be a good player, I’m sorry to say, but they’re going to let you go.”
“Ah,” said Marcello.
There was a knock on the door, and Marcello’s secretary, Laura, entered the room. “You’re stressed, sir. Have some coffee,” she said. She poured out three cups. “Gentlemen?” she said, handing them the coffee.
“Thank you, Laura,” said Marcello gratefully.
“The amount of stress you’ve been dealing with is unhealthy, sir. I bet you were thinking of shooting yourself with that handgun of yours,” said Laura.
Marcello blanched, almost spilling the coffee. “How did you…?”
“What?” said Christopher and Khalil in unison. “Marcello, what are you even thinking?”
“Sorry, guys. Really,” he said apologetically.
“I have a solution, sir,” said Laura. “For all three of you.”
The men stayed silent.
“Sir, you need some time away from all this. All three of you do. I have an idea. I want you three to go to somewhere peaceful. Somewhere you can discover yourselves. Somewhere where someone will guide you and calm you.”
“Sounds wonderful, Laura,” said Marcello. “But where?”
Laura smiled. “Ever heard of Hemis Monastery, sir?”
“It’s one of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in the world, sir. And it’s the oldest one in India. Many monks live there. Hopefully, they’ll ease your pain.”
“Sounds awfully stereotypical of us Americans,” said Christopher. “Our souls are in turmoil. We go to India to rediscover ourselves and some monk or guru helps us out. Very Hollywood-like!”
“There’s no smoke without fire, sir,” answered Laura. “My husband went there when he lost his job. He came back more confident, and more happy. He now has a new job and a new car and a new garage.”
“Or we go there and get killed off by some random ancient trap there.”
Laura laughed. “I promise you gentlemen, this isn’t anything like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!”
“Alright, alright,” smiled Marcello. “We’ll leave for a week, gents. I’m tired of this chaos.”
“Touché,” agreed Christopher and Khalil.
“So what’s the plan, Laura?” asked Marcello, now slightly more cheerful.
Laura smiled. “You’ll be landing in New Delhi, sir. And I'll be confiscating your handgun!"
George Bush International Airport
“You’re late, Marcello,” said Khalil cheekily.
“Sorry, man, traffic was murder!” said Marcello.
Khalil raised an eyebrow. “It’s 4 AM, Marcello. What traffic?”
The two men laughed together, excited for their trip. Out of the corner of his eye, Marcello noticed that Christopher wasn’t laughing. “What’s wrong, Christopher? Are you really expecting an Indiana Jones catastrophe there?”
“No,” said Christopher. Then, he looked straight into Marcello’s eyes.
“I’ve been thinking, Marcello. We have a decent set of bench players. We have some awesome future prospects coming up. We have a good coach in Steven Walker and we have an experienced veteran leader in Danny Reynolds! But deep down, it doesn’t feel like enough!”
“What does this team really need to succeed, Marcello?”
Marcello smiled. He patted Christopher’s shoulders.
“What this team really needs, Chris, is a face, in other words, a franchise-level player. We need someone who can change the fate of this team, and represent this city for years to come.”
“We need a game-changer, Chris!”
Hey guys! Thanks for sticking with the story so far! I’m so gladdened to see that I now have 5000+ views, and 250+ likes! Please continue to stay with the tale till the very end!
If anyone has any questions or doubts with anything I’ve written or mentioned in the story, feel free to ask me in the comments. I understand I’ve included quite a bunch of things in my story, and not everyone will understand everything. I might have missed some explanations in the endnotes. Any questions, ask me in the comments. I’ll be happy to answer!