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Old 12-26-2020, 02:27 PM   #1
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808s N' Fastbreaks




...A NBA 2K21 Story Chise...

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Old 12-26-2020, 02:28 PM   #2
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Re: 808s N' Fastbreaks

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Old 12-26-2020, 02:29 PM   #3
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:33 PM   #4
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Re: 808s N' Fastbreaks




...Four Years Ago...

"I'm pregnant" - two words that echoed in the mind of the young Johan. There was a brief silence, a calm. "Hello...?", Nikita reached out.

"Yeah, I'm here. I heard you. I-I don't know if I should be excited or scared out my mind." Johan was trying to gather his bearings, his thoughts, the revelation of becoming a father weighed him heavy. "... What are we going to do?" "What do you mean?" "... I don't know. I'm just trying to wrap my head around this..."

Another brief silence fell upon the phone call.

"You're just finding out?" Johan asked. "I knew for a little over three weeks now." Nikita responded. "And you're just now telling me?" "I didn't know how you would react. I didn't know if I'd be keeping the baby. Like, I just needed some time to figure out what I'm going to do". "I see... I mean, it's obvious we can't afford it. We have to-" "I can't." Nikita abruptly spoken.

"I just can't make that decision right now. We were supposed to graduate, go to college, try to make something out of this thing. I don't what to expect right now. I told my parents.” "What did they say?" He asked. "They were livid. They want us to stop seeing each other." "What!?"

Johan gets up from his bed, pacing the floor. "Are you home? I'm coming over right now. I'd rather we talk about this in person." "No, I'm not home. I'm not even in-state. I'm with my aunt in Philadelphia for the weekend. I just needed some space after a big argument we had." "What happened?" "... They're moving me to Atlanta." Johan was crushed by the news of losing his girlfriend, not only that, potentially a child as well. Anger and sorrow for the situation out of his control began to swell in him as the conversation continue.

"So, what now? We have to make this work somehow." "Johan, please. I don't have all the answers right now. Like you said, we can't afford it right now. But I'm not sure if I want to have an abortion. I just need time to figure things out." "what about your basketball scholarship?" "I guess, it'll just have to go to someone else. If I can't play, I can’t keep it, and I wouldn't want that kind of stress on me right now... All I know is that I'm leaving for Atlanta soon... It's not a choice."

"But-" "I'm sorry Johan. I'm sorry it had to be this way, but doing this face to face would've been even harder for me. I have to go." "Nikita-" "I'm sorry JoJo, bye." Nikita rushed off the phone. As the stunned and confused Johan sat down to collect himself, his mother knocks on the door before opening, "Johan, is everything okay?" "No mom, everything is not okay..."

Johan, 16, Nikita, 17. Young tender lovers, having not yet explored the splendors of what life has to offer. Two products of their environment from different backgrounds, finding each other with a common love for basketball. Both were special. One with the God-given talent, the other with the raw potential to absorb and adapt the game. But it only took one faithful night for it all to come crashing down...


[Interlude]

It's been two years since the bomb Nikita dropped on Johan. Nikita moved to Atlanta, staying with her Aunt on her father's side. She made the decision to keep the child, giving birth to a boy. Not only that, Nikita managed to make life work somehow. It was unfortunate learning that her Aunt and Uncle-In-Law were unable to have a baby on their own after many attempts. The silver lining of this turmoil was they were very accepting of assisting care for the baby as Nikita finished school, attending Clark Atlanta University, even managing to make the basketball team. Nikita Hardaway was star player without a second look. When scouts got around to making it to CAU, they were there for Nikita Hardaway. She led the team in points, assists, steals, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage. It was nothing she couldn't do outside of not making it to a much bigger program as she dreamt of etching her name into.

Back to the world of Johan Johnson, moving from Queens, New York, Johan transferred to Newark East Side High. He came into his own through the years, developing his game. Granted a growth spurt, Johan towered at 6'5", fascinating his-self at both sports and body building. The kid wasn't your normal teenager going through phases. Idolizing the sheer power and finesse of the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Shaq, and more through countless clips online and re-runs on NBA TV. Johan bulked up and put his body to use, making it an advantage against other regional teams. Athletically, he was a cut above the rest. Inside game, footwork, he had the works. What was left to be desired was his shooting mechanics and his consistency. At work in progress, but nonetheless, he was on many mid-major and few big program's radar. After winning state, graduating from high school with flying colors, slotting him-self in the top 50 players in the nation, Johan just never followed through. As it would seem, something else was itching at his mind after all this time, after all this focus and dedication; Nikita...

...Atlanta...

It's been some time since everything has settled. Both were still going through the motions. The baby was born, a boy. The relationship between the two began to rekindle. Despite the distance, they tried to remain on good terms. Phone calls, video chats, text messages, pictures. It was a bittersweet for Johan, but he was content for now. In secret, Johan's been trying to make moves to take a trip and surprise her. After all, he still loved her, more importantly, proper introductions were due between him and his son. But over the course of a few attempts to receive her address to "send a care package for the baby", Nikita remained hemmed up. Afterwards, things became very seldom in communication. Then one day in Queens, Johan bumps into a close friend of Nikita's.

"Hey there Mr. Basketball Star!" Johan turns his attention to loud shout from a distance. "Hey, Rhonda. Long time, no see. How've you been?" "I'm good. doing a bit of shopping here and there. I wasn't sure if it was you, but I definitely recognized you when I got closer. Just wanted to say what's up and it was good to see you since you left." "Awh, good to see you as well. I actually just got back in the city, doing a few things then heading back off." "I hear that, gotta stay busy these days. Well, I'm not going to hold you. It was nice seeing you." "Yeah, same here. Hey, hold on a sec. Let me ask you. You and Nikita, y'all still close?" "Yeah, of course, that's my girl! My ace! I'm actually doing shopping for her son." "So, you already knew?" "Knew about what?" Rhonda asked quisitive, but Johan kept his wit and re-directed his series of questions. "Oh, nothing. I just been trying to get a hold of her but we fell out of connect. I've actually been trying to send off some baby stuff but I have no address to get it to her." "Oh, well, take my number down, hit me up later and I'll get it to you, if that's all." "Yeah, that'll be a big help." "I know y'all two were tight and all, even dating. I think it's nice of you to do something like that after all this time." "I'm a nice guy" Johan shoots a big smile. "Okay, so I'll call you later for the address?" "That's fine." "Cool, talk to you later then..."

A couple weeks later, Johan made his plans accordingly, pushing everything basketball-related to the side. College, his agent, his mother who urgently tried to get him to come to his senses of his life decisions at this pivotal moment of his life. All that was set aside for one road trip to Atlanta. Johan’s best friend, Erick, joined Johan on his journey, driving them both down south.

“Yo, E, I appreciate this man. You really didn’t have to put your plans aside and come with. I had everything I needed to get here.” “Nah man, it’s cool bro. You sticking your neck out to make something happen out here. No friends, no family, it would go on my conscious knowing I let you rolled down here by your-self.” “You make it seem like it’s a ****-show awaiting me.” “Probably.” Erick, says disgustingly. “You’re a ray of optimism, Erick.” “Look, all I’m saying is, the broad goes MIA all of a sudden, without even trying to help you understand the situation, much alone, seeing your kid. I just got a bad feeling about this.” “Heard you, loud and clear. But I don’t know. Just have a little benefit of the doubt for me.” “Yeah, aight. Whatever.”

The two reached their designated address that Rhonda relayed. “This the place?” “According to the GPS.” Erick replied. “Don’t look nobody is home though.” “Well, opportunity knocks first.” “You ready for this? Good or bad, I’m with you bro. But this could change your life man.” Johan ponders on it a moment, “Yeah, I’m ready. Whatever happens, let's just call this closure on a long-written chapter.” “Okay, Mr. Philosophy. I’ll wait here.” “Thanks man.”

Johan slowly hops out the car, making his approach up the porch, looking back at Erick, who gives him the thumbs up. With a few knocks to the front door, the door opens, presenting a big burly middle-aged man. Much bigger to Johan’s surprised, almost felt a little intimidated. “Can I help you?” The man at the door with the scruffy voice questioned. “Uh, Hi, my name is Johan. I was hoping to be able to speak with Nikita. Not sure if this is the right address.”

The man at the door stood there opposing Johan, overlooking him, almost viewing him as if he’s out of place. Moments go by with silence before the man reprieved him-self. “Hold on...” The man slightly leaves the door ajar. Johan distanced him-self from the door to a safer distance. Moments later, Johan’s eyes laid eyes on the next person to open the door, Nikita...

With an unpleasant surprise, Nikita nearly lashed out, “Johan, what are you doing here!?” “I came to see you Nikita. After all this time, I wanted to see how you are doing and also see my son.” “How the hell did you even find me?” “Why do you sound like you’ve been in hiding?” “Maybe I am.” “Cut the crap, Nikita. I didn’t come all this way for some foolery. I bumped into your friend Rhonda awhile back, she gave me your info.” “Hmm, yeah, I see I’m going to have to sever some ties back home.”

Johan wanted to press Nikita with her newfound attitude, seeing her behave this way just wasn’t he had expected, but to his discretion, he kept his cool without making a scene on unknown territory. Looking over Nikita, she’s grown a figure than he last seen her, beautiful as ever, seemingly matured, but she was different in a way, as if she was a new person.

“So, what happened, Nikita? Why did you ghost me? I’ve been trying to see you for the longest. What’s been really up?” “So, that’s what that care-package nonsense was about?” “Wasn’t no nonsense, I was genuine about that. It’s not like I could have upped and be around a kid we both made. It was the least I could do, I wanted to do. I even bought the stuff Rhonda bought for you along. Everything is in the car.” Nikita looked over to the driver seat of the car, noticing a figure somewhat waving. “Who’s that?” “Erick. I moved to Newark, met him at East side High. Cool guy. Was king enough to go out his way to bring me here.”

Nikita adverted her eyes back on Johan, noticing how much he’s grown. He wasn’t that same scrawny 16 years old kid she knew for years growing up. Two years did a lot for him. “So, may I see my son?” “No.” No? What you mean no?” “Exactly what I said, no!” “Nikita, I dragged myself all the way out here, dropping everything for this. For you, for our son. At the very least, let me see my son.” “Johan, look, I have a lot going on. I just got my life somewhat back together and you popping up out of nowhere makes me very uncomfortable.” “Oh, so I make you uncomfortable now?” “Right now, it just isn’t the time or place-”

Suddenly, another figure approached the front door, questioning the mildly loud noise. “Baby, what’s going on out here?” “Nothing, check on Jr. Please? I’ll be right inside.” The other person looks over to Johan, “Who’s this character? Everything okay?” “Yes.” Nikita responded, “Just an old acquaintance.” The man retreated to the sound of the cries, leaving the two alone once more. “So, this is what you have going on?” Nikita remained silent. “Oddly enough, you’ve been so mouthy to get rid of me, but you’re quiet now. Cats out. So, you got another man taking over my responsibility.” “Yeah, I do. He knows he’s not his father, but that’s who Jr. Knows.” “Jr... So, you named him after me?” “Yeah...”

Johan lets out a heavy sigh. To his suspicion, he almost thought the kid wasn’t his. But it was no mistaken it was his from the pictures he received in the past.

“I guess this trip was all for nothing.” “I thought I made it obvious when I stopped reaching out to you. Johan, what we had is what we had. That’s in the past now. Yes, we have a child together, but I’m not about to go stirring up and confuse my child who his daddy is.” “He’s calling him daddy?” “To be honest, yes, it pains me every time, but yes. Because I know the truth and he doesn’t.” A silence broke onto them. The aura between these two was very conflicting, invoking bad energy. “I’m trying to move on, and so... So should you.”

Johan remains quiet, having to force him-self to come to terms with the words that his nearly shattering his heart into pieces.

“I can see the sadness on your face JoJo. I’m really sorry that it couldn’t be how you wanted to be, but this is the life that was dealt. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to have a family without you. But so is such. I’m trying to make the best of it. He’s your son, but this is my family right now, this is my home. I need you to respect that...”
After a closing from Nikita, Johan took the walk back to the car, sitting inside with complete silence as Nikita turned away and disappeared into the house. Erick looks over to Johan, viewing the blank stare in his eyes. “Without a word, I already know how this turned out. You okay man?” Breaking the moment of silence, Johan humbly uttered, “Let’s go home, Erick...”
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:34 PM   #5
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:37 PM   #6
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Re: 808s N' Fastbreaks




...A Long Way From Home...
After returning home in Newark, Johan sat with his mother, giving her the details of where the situation stands between him and Nikita. Suffice to say, she was not happy. Disappointed in the fact that Johan was willing to throw away everything to alter the path of life, but she respected him even more and couldn’t be prouder than her son stepping up, for attempting to do what was right. Family meant everything to her, second nature to honor. With what it was that came of it, Johan moved on to focus back on basketball.

“Johan, have you come to a decision to where you want to go?” “Yeah, I think I did.” Several college caps sat before him on the table: Connecticut. TCU. Michigan. UMass. Stony Brook. Portland State. Winthrop. Hawaii. UTEP, and many more. Doors of opportunities sat before him. His mother, elated to see one her dreams to come true, her only child, her son, to head off to college. “Are we going to record your reveal to send in?” “Uh, no Mom, no need.” “Oh, how come?” “Well...” Johan took a moment to look over his options once more. “The school I’ve decided to go to isn’t on the table of offers.” Johan’s mother waited with anticipation of knowing which school he could be speaking of.

“I want to go to USF, University of San Francisco. I want to play for the Dons.” She looked puzzled to his choice. “San Francisco, why so far? Do you not want to be close to home?” “I do, but it’s not that Mom. It’s just I need to be away, get out on my own, see something new, get my feet into some different soil. See what’s out there for me besides just college and basketball.” “Are you sure about this?” Johan ponders before answering, “No, but yes. I mean, you’ve came a long way from home, leaving Kyoto.” “Well, I had my reasons to leave son.” “I know Mom, so do I...”

Johan makes his way to San Francisco, taking the scenery in, the vivid colors, the warm breezes, new life in a new place. Stepping off the plane onto campus at USF transitioned him to a new experience of life. To explore the depths of him-self, to learn more of him-self, to grow. If it was going to be anywhere, San Francisco would be the place for him.

Making his way through the campus, a lot of different commotions was going on. One place led him to another, without finding his destination, a kid lost in a candy shop. One person noticed him and made their approach to him, “Hey there, first day at the University?” “Uh, yes. Just arrived not too long ago.” “Yeah, place can be a bit much getting around, but you’ll get familiar with the place in no time... Hey, wait a minute, I know you. You’re one of the top basketball prospects in the nation, could’ve gone to anywhere.”

Johan let out a sincere smile “I guess my reputation precedes me. I’m Johan.” Johan extended his hand for a shake. “I’m Stephen, nice to meet you. So, what brings you here to the University of San Francisco?” “Uhh, so put it simple. I’m trying out for the basketball team as a walk-on. Just seems like a good place where there’s no pressure.” Stephen chuckles a bit with a snarl, “No pressure huh? Good luck with that. A guy of your caliber? Your bound to give this program some hope, providing you make the team.” “Competition that stiff?” “Yes and no. More so the head coach here, Coach Smith. He’s very diligent. If you got the goods he’s looking for, you’ll fit right in.” “Alright, alright. I’m piqued. More than I needed to be.” “Sorry to run your ear off my man. I’m sure you want to get acquaintance with the surroundings, so let me show you around and get settled in.” “Sounds good.” Johan and Stephen made off throughout the campus for the tour. Johan had nothing but good energy about the place, and was already itching to leave his mark on the school’s history.


...One Year Later...

One year has passed since Johan’s enrollment. Making the cut to play for the Dons, everything seemed to fall in place for the freshman, but not everything was to be a cake walk. For Johan, he made a couple comrades on the team, but ran into the buzzsaw of Coach Smith. Initially, Johan tried to comply with the coach’s demands, but eventually, Johan took the impression of him being a hard-***, riding his case especially. It wasn’t really clear to why such tension between the coach and player, but ultimately, it left Johan bench riding, not playing a game. After the last game of the season, Johan was vastly fed up.

“Hey, Johan, you good bro?”, one teammate asked, seeing the disdain on Johan’s face as the team were clearing out the locker room. “I’ll live man. Just glad this season is over.” “I feel you, wasn’t the best of seasons we had, but there’s always next season.” “Yeah man...” Johan responded with his head hanging low. Another teammate passes by the locker room, sticking his head inside, shouting towards Johan. “Yo, freshman, Coach Golden wants a word with you.”

Johan drags his-self up, lugging his bag over his back as he made for the corridor. Spotting Coach Golden speaking to Coach Smith, Johan keeps his distance a bit, allowing that conversation to finish and avoiding the head coach.

“Hey kid, how you holding up?” “Things can definitely be better. Not what I was expecting for my first year.” “Yeah, I know. Look, normally, I’d side with my peers and tell you kids to buck up, but I understand how Coach Smith can be an enigma sometimes. Not the best of tactics he displays, but 9 times out of 10, it gets results. Just so happen, you’re the 10.” “Yeah, I figured that. Dude had it out for me since day one of try-outs.”

“Yeah, and he should. You don’t see it fully, but you got something special in your game. You got this heap of potential that’s being capped off, and you have to really dig down and show that off.” “Coach, riding the bench all season doesn’t do anything for this “potential”. Most I get a work up for is practice.” “Yeah, well, just keep putting the work in. Be ready, stay ready. I’m going to see to it you get your chance next season. We need some winners playing out there and I can see you’re hungry for this. You came all the way out to California, long way from home. I know you want this.”

“I don’t know Coach. Thinking about just quitting the team-” Coach Golden interrupts Johan just before he could put the punctuation on his sentence. “No, don’t quit. Keep at it, show up for practice. Show you want that starting spot. Show the team you got what it takes to be the guy for this school. I believe in you, believe in yourself. Bring out that hunger and show us something that we can’t refuse to keep on the bench. Cause I know you don’t belong on the bench.”

Johan pauses for a minute. “You really putting your eggs in one basket?” “If all 12 eggs go in, that’s 24 points. You think you can do the same.” Johan nods in silence, “Yeah, of course.” “Alright, these ain’t high schoolers in the conference. These guys want to make something out of this just as much as you do. Stay on the team, put the work in.” “Okay Coach, I hear you.” “Good... So I’ll see you next season?” Coach Golden extended his hand for a shake, asking Johan for his honor. In turn, Johan reaches out and shakes his hand. “I’ll see you next season...”

...When Disaster Strikes...

Sophomore year. Johan returned to the Dons that was now helmed by Coach Todd Golden. Coach Smith mad his exit, departing for Washington State after a successful season. He couldn’t say he wasn’t happy to see him go, after a season-long clash of the minds, Johan was hoping Coach Golden would be a far better reciprocator as the head coach.

With faces of old departing the team as they graduate, new faces came in to replace. This season with a slew of guards and forwards leaving, Johan was primed for a spot. Sure enough, Coach Golden made good on his word, giving the keys to the team to Johan, allowing Johan to display and excel like he knows how, being the scorer and facilitator. The team would go on to finish with a 22-12 record, 9-7 in the West Coast Conference. Making it to the 3rd round of the WCC Tournament, they were defeated by Gonzaga, after beating Loyola Marymount and Pacific.

It was the season Johan had hoped for. In his Sophomore, more like his freshman re-attempt, he averaged 20.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.5 steals for the season. Team was happy, fans was happy, coach was happy, most importantly, Johan was happy. That is, until one faithful afternoon...

“Yeah... Yeah...” “Mhm... No, no, it’s fine. That won’t be necessary...” “Yeah, I’m holed up in a hotel right now. I think I got enough to hold me over until things blow over. Can’t stay here forever though.” Johan chats on the phone with his agent. The television in the background played loud enough about the news of Covid-19. “Yeah, thanks. I’ll keep that in mind. Hey, listen, just keep me updated on the state of things if you find something out first. We’ll mull this over some more. Okay... You too.”

After the conversation, Johan tunes his attention to the news as they discuss the chaos imploding in shopping districts, hospitals overloading, a sharp spike in the death count among others. Johan unlocks his phone once more, view his wallpaper of his son he never met face to face. After a moment, he calls up his mother. The phone rings... It continues to ring until the voice mail picks up.

“Hi Mom, it’s me. Just calling to check in with you, see how you’re doing back home. When you hear this, give me a call back when you can. I love you, bye.”

Two hours later, a phone call comes in from an unknown number. Hesitant to be bothered with it, he answers the call. “Hello?” “Hi Johan, this is Maria, from next door of your mother’s.” “Mrs. Vasquez, hi, how are you.” “In these trying times, I’m surviving. And you sweetie?” “I’m doing the best I can. Residing at a hotel for now. Colleges evacuated everyone to try to minimize the potential casualties. But I’m not doing too bad.” “That’s so good to hear that you’re okay. Hey, listen, are you busy right now? I have something to discuss with you.” “No, I’m free. Just waiting for my mother to return my call, what’s going on?”

There was a brief pause after the question, Mrs. Vasquez hesitated to speak as if she was affected, letting out a whimper, following sobbing.

“It’s your mother, Johan. She was... She-” Johan sits up, fearing the worst. “Mrs. Vasquez, what happened!?” “... She was having difficulties breathing. My husband and I thought she was having an asthma or panic attack, but we didn’t know it was far worse. She... Collapsed on the floor. We rushed her to the hospital earlier this morning... I’m so sorry, Johan. She’s gone...” “No, no, oh my god. Oh my god...” Johan broke down into tears, giving into the heartbreak, losing his composure, as if his glass barrier encasing his heart was shattered, shards impaling his heart, seeping out sorrow through the slits of his wounds. With the pandemic in the thick of things, by way of hell and high water, Johan made it his intention to go home...
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:38 PM   #7
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...The Reset Button...
Johan returned home, back to Newark after receiving news of his mother’s passing. The Vasquez family were kind enough to assist Johan with the process of putting his mother’s life to rest. Mrs. Vasquez and his mother were more than neighbors, best of friends to be exact. With Johan’s journey to the west, the two have been pleasant company. With everything arranged, Johan says his final goodbye to his former home and neighbors, who welcomed him anytime he’s in town. Johan spends the rest of the summer crashing at Erick’s place for a while. His stay would soon come to an end as he didn’t want to overstay his welcome.

“Good morning.” “Hey, good morning bro, slept alright?” “Got a massive headache, feels like I’ve been hit by bus.” “Yeah well, you blacked out after your 5th bottle last night. Didn’t think you’d be that light of a drinker after some college time under your belt. No party time in San Francisco?” “Nah man, just all work you can say.” “Sit down man, got some extra breakfast, I’ll whip you up something.” “Thanks.”

Johan takes his seat at the table, mulling over the newspaper before a text message came in. It was from his agent along with two missed calls, “Swing by the office, got some things to go over with you. Important stuff.”

“Here you go man.” Erick hands off a plate to Johan. “Thanks man, appreciate this.” “No problem. You finish with that paper?” “Oh, yeah.” “So, what’s on the agenda for you today? Your phone’s been buzzing all morning since you been out.” “Yeah, I got few missed calls, several actually. My agent wants me to swing by the office, said he got some stuff he wants to talk about.” “Hopefully it’s something big bro.” “Likewise. This pandemic has not been easy for any of us, but it looks like the sports industry is slowly coming back after finding a system to keep everyone safe. You working late tonight?” “Yeah, got a few cars to work on at the shop. This ‘68 Mustang is taking priority, been waiting nearly a month for parts to come in. I’m actually heading out in a few, so I’ll leave the key with you.” “Alright. I’ll get my mess cleaned up and hit the road as well...”

Few hours later, Johan made his way over to his agent’s office in Jersey City. Seen on the telephone, Johan knocks on the window, being waved in just as quickly. “Hey Sidney, how’s everything?” “Just the man I wanted to see. How are you?” “I’m okay... With everything that’s going on, I’m maintaining.” “Yeah, I’m glad you’re doing okay. I know you’ve been under tremendous stress of late. You know, with the passing of your mother, dealing and adjusting to this pandemic, much alone remaining safe yourself. I’ve delayed some news as long as I could to give you time to do what was needed.” “Thank you for that, it’s much appreciated. But you got some things to talk to me with? Hopefully it’s something good?” “Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if it wasn’t good. So, let's get into it.” Sidney takes a seat on his desk and lays out some options. “Alright, here’s where we are. School is out, professional sports have resume.” “Right...” “What we want to do is put you on the right path to further your career, assuming you want to continue playing.” “Of course, this is what I live for. My mom made many sacrifices to see that I come this far. We’re to see this through.”

“Music to my ears. So, option number one, return to San Francisco for another season or finish out there and head for the draft.” “Option number two?” “You can leave college behind and play in the G League.” Johan sat in quiet, mulling his options in thought. “Johan, either option is no wrong path. Finish school, get your education, bide your time then try the pros. All the media outlets would be circulating around after that tremendous season you had last season. But God forbid you get hurt, not only it’ll hurt your stock, but your chances in the NBA. Nobody is going to be too willing to take on an injury-risk investment.”

“Okay, I see your point.”

“On the other hand, you can play in the G League, you’ll have a contract. You’ll get paid. You’ll put a roof over your head, food in your belly. Times is hard and people are strapped for cash in this crumbling economy. It would be very wise to get what you can right now, secure a part of your future if nothing else. Plenty of players make it to the NBA through the G League. I want to know will you be one of them.”

“Alright, so let’s say I chose to play in the G League, how would that process work?” “Normally, you put up a sign-up fee and go through the try-out trials. But given the circumstances that is, there won’t be any try-outs or invitations this year as they’ve been cancelled." “So, explain to me how playing in the G League now is more beneficial when there’s no try-outs this year.” “I know a guy in the G League office, he owes me a favor and I'm sure he’d like to make good on that debt.” “So, this connect of yours can bypass protocols and magically make things happen.” “Don’t sound so skeptical. He’s the president of the G League after all, Shareef Abdur-Rahim.” “No way!” “You didn’t know?” “Nah, I didn’t know he was G League President, much alone you shake hands with the guy.” “One: I shake hands with a lot of people. Two: Know your personnel.” “Duly noted.”

“Now, the two options before you are predetermined. Go back to San Francisco. Or you can go to Stockton, play for the Kings’ G League affiliate team, the Stockton Kings. Shareef has strong ties there, so getting you in will be a synch. You will not be signed to the Sacramento Kings; however, you will be listed as a free agent for any NBA team to sign. Whether you step foot back on campus or in the G League, your choices afterwards are solely up to you.”

“... That’s a lot. That’s a lot to mull over. I can definitely see the benefits from both options, so that makes it even harder. Education or a contract above all else. But I’ve made my decision...” With Johan making a return to the basketball scene, training regiments, dietary, and covid testing protocols were in order. In a string of events over the years, Johan has lost a lot. But with this given time and place, some luck was in order for the young upstart...
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:40 PM   #8
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...Arrival To Battleground...
It’s been a few months since Johan made his decision to leave college and join the NBA G League. It was a tough decision, as education was important to his mother. But he’d knew that he can always return and fulfill that milestone later down the road. It’s been three short months of vigorous training, quarantining, and testing. Everything had checked out, papers were finalized, Johan was ready to make his way to Stockton, California. Upon his arrival, introductions were had, meeting a staff member of the team that was awaiting his arrival. Shortly, after a long walk down a corridor, Johan stood before double doors that he would enter to begin his new life, as a new member of the Stockton Kings.

“Hey Coach, the new guy is here.” the staff member iterated before making his leave. “Ah, so you’re newest addition to the team.” “And hopefully a great asset as well, the name’s Johan Johnson.” “Tyrone Ellis, pleasure to meet you.” “Likewise.” “Come inside... Okay team, listen up! We have a new face in the building, Johan Johnson. Perhaps some of you heard of him. He made some noise in his sophomore year at the University of San Francisco. All I ask of you is to show him the ropes around here, get him up to speed and acquainted.

Not too many were impressed with Johan. Most of these guys were out of their league, but hungry as anyone would be with an opportunity to do better, be better, achieve great things. They looked at Johan as just another opposition to overcome. All were teammates, but all were fighting for a spot on a NBA roster, which were seldom to come by for 400 employees. After introductions among the team, one of them stuck out to be the friendliest of them all, Stacey Shaw. The oldest on the team, Johan had a sense of him just being happy he’s able to play ball.

“I can tell you don’t belong here.” Johan looks at Stacey with raised eyebrows, almost insinuating. “How you figure?”, Johan asked. “Can just tell. You look like you belong on a NBA roster. You got this aura about you, real stout.” “Stout?” “Strong, heavy, something like a presence just too much to ignore.” Johan chuckles a bit, “I believe you’re giving me far more credit than I can carry today.” “Oh no, I’m not mistaking nothing about it. It’s written all over your face man. I’ve seen players like you come and go, as I’m from the University of San Francisco too.” “Oh? So, you’ve played under Coach Kyle Smith?” “No, I’ve heard about him, but I finished the year before he became head coach there.” “Lucky you, he’s a real character up close and in-person.” Johan looks around the locker room, surveying the players. “So, what’s these guys deal? You got any scoop on them? Seem a bit hostile.” “Guys just a little on edge. Don’t worry, they’ll come around. They’re just like anyone else man, just trying to keep that mentality to stay ready for any day to show and prove. Which, brings this conversation full circle, I believe it’ll be you to be that guy to keep tabs on.” Stacey pats Johan on shoulder before tending his own devices.

It wasn’t everyday someone waltz into Johan’s life and lay it on him thick with prophecies. As he waived the thought and prepared for practice, Johan was stepping into a battleground. Lower-tier NBA, but NBA nonetheless. It was a whole new world filled with a hunger for money, fame, and greatness, and he’s yet to scratch the surface...
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