Chapter 31:

The Missing Link in the Team


Las Vegas



“How?” breathed Odai Beckham Jr. “How is this even happening?”

The third quarter had just ended, and the Houston Spacewalkers were down 68-90 to the Las Vegas Decks.

Head Coach Steven Walker couldn’t believe it either. He had just borne witness to an all-round dominating performance by Lewis Ronald. Two promising rookies, Odai Beckham Jr and Chad Brown, were absolutely destroyed. They had just experienced the real level of the NBA. It was nothing like any league they’d ever played. The skill of players at this stage towered marginally above their wildest dreams.

“So this is the NBA,” thought Odai.

The only bright spot, if any, in the entire game, was Danny Reynolds. The man had put of 40 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists already. His veteran leadership clearly showed as he helped the team keep their composure against the Skyhook shooter, Lewis Ronald. But composure could only take them so far. They needed scoring, and they needed it fast.

But, they couldn’t score.

Every time they tried to score against the Las Vegas Decks, some of their shot attempts somehow went into the basket. But, any shot against Lewis Ronald was fruitless for Odai, Chad, and a bunch of others. Every time they tried to score, it was like Lewis would give them a gaze so intense that they lost their confidence. The smart ones would try to pass the ball, and the not-so-smart ones would try to score, only to miss badly.

Odai Beckham Jr had a stat line of 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Spacewalkers fans couldn’t believe how badly their new rookies were faring. They had expected way more than that from their top rookie, Odai. Also their other rookie, Chad Brown, had a disastrous performance of 1 point, 3 rebounds and 0 assists.

Two nightmarish debut games.

Steven Walker decided that he couldn’t force his two new rookies to endure anymore of Lewis Ronald and his skyhook shot. “Beckham! Brown! Back to the bench! Ichikawa and Marino, you’re in!”

“Finally!” thought Kobayashi Ichikawa happily. “I get to play!”

Kobayashi entered the court and heard the boos of the Las Vegas Decks’ fans. They continued to cheer their franchise player, Lewis Ronald, and the rest of their team.

“I really hope he’s okay,” thought Steven Walker worriedly. “Guys, this was your first NBA game and we’re against one of the best teams in the league, so don’t fret. You have plenty of time to learn and grow!” he said encouragingly to Odai Beckham Jr and Chad Brown.

Kobayashi was told by Danny Reynolds to guard the Decks’ point-guard, Dillon Francis. Dillon was 6’1 and a lot more experienced than Kobayashi. “You’re that tall and you play basketball, mate?” he asked. “That amazing!”

“Thanks,” said Kobayashi.

Dillon caught a pass from Lewis and squared up against his defender, Kobayashi. He gently tried dribbling past him, but was stopped by Kobayashi who stepped directly in his path. “Oh, he moves well!” mused Dillon.

He then busted out the fastest dribbles that Kobayashi had ever seen. He seemed to be dribbling in all directions, randomly, but efficiently. He crossed over Kobayashi with such speed that the Japanese point-guard crashed to the ground, leaving the Australian open for a layup.

The crowd cheered loudly and booed Kobayashi harder.

“Seriously?” thought Kobayashi. “He’s that skilled?”

“That crowd is annoying!” grumped Odai Beckham Jr.

“Can’t they shut up?” agreed Chad Brown.

Steven Walker turned to them and smiled. “Welcome to the NBA, guys!”


Odai and Chad cheered as Kobayashi hit another three-pointer. “He’s hit three of those already!” said Odai happily. “And he’s such a good ball-handler (1)! Wow!”

“I’m starting to understand one thing,” said Chad. “Each and every individual player on that team is far more skilled than us! That’s the level of the NBA!”

“That’s obvious,” said Steven Walker. “They’re more experienced than you two!”

The joy disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

The score was 101-89 in favor of the Decks. Kobayashi and Danny Reynolds’ three-pointers had helped lower the gap to 12.

“We can win!” thought Dan.

But, a wrench was thrown in their plans when Lewis Ronald himself started to guard Kobayashi.

“Wow, he’s so tall!” pondered Kobayashi. “But he’s not that fast! I can score!”

Kobayashi got past Lewis easily using his speed and inferior size to literally slip away from under Lewis’ arms. He then attempted to shoot a mid-range shot. Unfortunately, his eyes met Lewis’ eyes.

Lewis gave off a vibe so intimidating, that Kobayashi was daunted. He steadied himself and went for the shot.


It hit the side of the rim and was snatched by the Decks’ power-forward, William Carter Jr. He went for an easy layup at the other end.

“How did I miss that?” raged Kobayashi mentally.

Steven Walker sighed. “Ichikawa, back on the bench!”

Kobayashi went back to the bench angrily. “What was that?”

“All rookies and inexperienced guys listen up. You want to know why you couldn’t score against or guard Lewis Ronald?”

Everyone who had been humiliated by Lewis that day leaned in.

“That,” said Steven Walker slowly. “Is an ability that only franchise players possess. A rare one at that!”


The Houston Spacewalkers went down to the Las Vegas Decks 98-115.

It was a disastrous debut game for Odai Beckham Jr and Chad Brown, and a mediocre one for Kobayashi Ichikawa.

The three rookies ran up to the coach and asked at one. “That ability. Why didn’t it work on Mr. Danny Reynolds?”

“Experience,” smiled Steven Walker. “He’s gotten used to it.”

The Houston Spacewalkers team boarded their team bus to return to their hotel. They had lost yet another game. For their fans, it was just one in many, many, games.

“We have the talent, leadership, and hard-working people. Why did we lose?” everyone was thinking.

But Steven Walker knew why.

“What this team is missing,” he thought. “Is that franchise level player, and his second-in-charge, a partner in crime!”

“We need those two guys!”


1. Ball-Handler: The ball handler in basketball is the offensive player who is in possession of the ball on that given play. The point guard is usually the primary ball handler due to their excellent dribbling and passing skills. However, the primary ball handler can change often depending on the play.

Author’s Note

We struck gold! Congratulations to Neeraj Chopra for winning the gold medal in the javelin-throw event! From a poor son of a farmer to Olympic gold medalist, his journey is an inspiration!

Also, congratulations to Bajrang Punia for winning the bronze medal in the freestyle 65 kg category of wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics 2020! Proud of you!

Our characters have finally gotten a taste of the real level of the NBA. What trials must they undergo to forge themselves into that level?

Let’s find out!