Originally published in SLAM 68

Darkness. Dank, cold darkness. Silence. Ominous silence, broken only by the echoing sound of dripping water in some remote corner.

Suddenly, there is light. A flat-screen TV flickers to life, illuminating the bare walls of what looks like a medieval prison cell. There is no sound, only highlights. On the screen, the big man in the Suns uniform does impossible things—driving baseline and dunking across his body with the wrong hand. Grabbing seemingly out-of-reach rebounds in traffic. Turning rolls of Stephon Marbury dimes into and-1s. Cut after cut after cut, a whole SportsCenter’s worth of highlights. But this is just one man. The true Manchild (sorry, Shawn).

It’s only then you notice the figure in the chair in front of the TV, tied to it with what looks like his own tie. Sweat glistens on his brow, hands balled into fists, eyes are unnaturally open—A Clockwork Orange open—forced to focus on the screen. Pages lie scattered on the floor, and you can just make out some names: Hilario, Tskitishvili, Dunleavy. All are headed “Scouting Report.”

Behind the figure, a voice leaps from an overhead speaker. “HOW COULD YOU MISS THIS GUY? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!” On screen, the tape rolls to its finale. Rising up in the lane, Amar’e Stoudemire challenges Clippers center Michael Olowokandi, ball cocked way back. The man in the chair tries to close his eyes, knowing what’s next. But he can’t. The hammer comes down, the screen goes dark, and the voice speaks once more. “YOU’RE FIRED.”

What team is this, you ask? Pick one.

Russ Bengtson