trevor ariza

Originally published in SLAM 116

Christmas Eve. Santa Claus finishes checking his list and begins checking it twice. He’s thorough, you know. When he gets halfway through the “H” section, he stops. Thinks. Looks back down. Stops again. Finally, he calls for an assistant.

“Hey. So…Grant Hill. Naughty or nice? What do you think?”

The elf is silent for a second, thinking. Gotta be careful around the boss. “I think he’s nice, Santa. He’s a major collector of African-American art, is politically active, and by all accounts is a terrific husband and father. Heck, Alvan Adams let him wear his number in Phoenix—would he do that for a jerk?”

Santa pushes back his Aeron with one hand, his other stroking his beard. “Those things are all true,” he says slowly. “But there are other things to consider as well. Like the fact that he left Orlando after playing just 47 games in his first four seasons there despite drawing a hefty paycheck. He threw that pass to Christian Laettner at Duke. And he was in a Nickelback video once.”

The elf squirms uncomfortably. “Yeah boss, that’s true, but…”

Santa cuts him off with a look. “I think I’ve got it figured,” he says with a smile. “I don’t think we should be too hard on him, but he still needs some kind of a reminder to be good more often. We’ll just give him Trevor Ariza.”

Russ Bengtson