Chapter 24:

The One and the Four



New York City, New York


“Okay, guys. This game is close. They’re clearly fighting back, and fighting back hard! But this is our game to win! We need to convert possessions into points! We need to-“

A buzzer rang, signaling the end of the timeout.

“Well, guys. This is it! Go out there and win!”

“You heard what coach said!” yelled Chad. “On three!”

“One! Two! Three! LET’S WIN!” yelled the team.

Kobayashi was pumped. His last three-pointer had boosted the team morale to infinity. He’d just returned the opponents’ best player’s taunts in kind.

But one thing was clear to Kobayashi: The guy, Odai Beckham Jr, would be coming at him with pure, brute, fully charged basketball for the remainder of the game.

Kobayashi now had a good measure of what Beckham Jr was capable of. The guy was tall, had long arms and long legs, which gave him immense speed and reach. Not just that, he had amazing instinct on defense. His footwork was on point. Lastly, he changed direction quickly, and could throw off any hounding defender.

But, he had weaknesses as well. He was a poor free throw shooter and a subpar three-point shooter. Also, his mid-range game was undeveloped.

“That’s his biggest flaw,” thought Kobayashi. “He can’t shoot. He can only dunk and put up floaters.”

He knew they had to exploit Beckham Jr’s weaknesses, or lose the game.

3 minutes left in the game.

With three minutes left and Galveston Tech leading 104-100, Odai Beckham Jr really started shifting gears. He started throwing down powerful dunks on Galveston Tech, taking advantage of Chad Brown’s defense. He seemed to fly in the air like a kite, snatch the ball from mid-air, and throw down loud slams.

“Oh great,” grumped Kobayashi. “He decides to go beast-mode on us now!”

Every time Kobayashi hit a three-pointer or a layup, Odai Beckham Jr would reply with a hammer on their heads. Slowly but steadily, Manhattan University started bridging the score gap. With the scoring spree that Beckham Jr was putting up, it seemed more and more likely that Manhattan would slowly wrest the game from Galveston’s grip.

Odai Beckham Jr threw down another fierce jam. With a thrill of horror, Kobayashi realized that now, Manhattan was ahead by one point, with 15 seconds left in the game.

Chad Brown jumped into the air to dunk the ball and tried to throw it down. Unfortunately, Odai Beckham Jr was faster. He swatted the ball out of Chad’s hands, much to his chagrin. He then recovered the ball and shot towards the other end of the court to dunk it and end the game.

“NO!” yelled Galveston Tech’s coach. “FOUL HIM!”

Kobayashi got in front of Odai, ready to foul and let him shoot free throws. This would assure that Galveston would get the ball after the free throws.

Beckham Jr got in front of Kobayashi, and did a 360 degree spin away from him so fast that Kobayashi couldn’t even process it fast enough to react. He then tried to let the game clock get to zero and ensure victory by just dribbling the ball. But Kobayashi was prepared.

He crouched down and used his signature move, his swipe-steal, to swat the ball away mid-dribble. Beckham Jr’s eyes widened in shock as the stolen ball flew out of his possession.

“GUYS!” howled Kobayashi desperately. “GET THAT BALL AND SCORE!”

It wasn’t to be, however.

The ball moved at a speed so fast that nobody could reach it. It went out of bounds just as the game clock expired.

Manhattan had won, 111-110.

Odai Beckham Jr ran back to celebrate with his team as Kobayashi collapsed to the ground, burning with shame and humiliation. Both coaches embraced and showed appreciation for the other team. Manhattan’s coach was impressed with Galveston Tech, especially Kobayashi.

But not his players.

The Manhattan University players started trash talking Kobayashi in the euphoria of their win.

“A guy your size has no business on a basketball court, pal!”

“Go put on eight more inches!”

“Or wear high heels to games!”

The trash-talkers roared with laughter.

“You trash as hell, man!”

“Be a mascot or something!”

“You’re not a real hoopster!”

“Big talk, guys!” came an angry voice.

The trash-talkers turned back to see Odai Beckham Jr glaring at them.

“Big talk for a bunch of benchwarmers who skip practice!”

The trash-talkers fell silent.

“That ‘mascot’ as you called him, put up 35 points, 7 rebounds, and 18 assists! Has any of you had a game like that in your lives?”


“But no, you haven’t. So, attend practice next time,” said Beckham Jr. “Now scram.”

The three miscreants fled the spot.

Odai Beckham Jr looked Kobayashi in the eye. “Sorry about that, bro.”

“Wait, bro?” thought Kobayashi.

“It’s alright, man.”

“What’s your name, bro?”

Kobayashi hesitated, but spoke. “Kobayashi Ichikawa.”

“Where are you from?”

“Tokyo, Japan.”

“You’re amazing, bro! Can’t wait to play you again. It was a good game!”

“Yeah, I guess…”

Odai Beckham Jr smiled and left him alone.

“Never mind, guys! Well played!” the coach was saying.

It was then that Kobayashi came up with a resolution.

“I’m never attempting that swipe-steal again! There’s nobody fast enough to recover it!”

Author’s Note

Well, that concludes the first real game we’ve seen in this story. Odai’s team won the game, but Kobayashi gained Odai’s respect. That’s the reason Odai calls him “bro.”

Hopefully, Kobayashi recovers after the heartbreaking loss, and prepares for what lies ahead.

Let’s all support Kobayashi and hope that one day, the swipe-steal will be beck!