By: Katie Heindl
Professional sports are rife with tradition. You could argue any composition of people with a shared interest or skill-set that forms to comprise a group will, at some point, take on ritualistic tendencies. This doesn’t equate necessarily to anything beyond butt slaps and wearing underwear for so long that in any other job it’d get you fired, but sometimes, every so often, the rituals of sport coalesce beyond their shared tendencies to leave you broke after 5+ stadium beers into something more celestial. Something more ancient.
On the 69th year of the National Basketball Association’s existence, when Goran and Zoran are traded to the same team in an environ surrounded by 3 different sources of subtropical, tepid water (né Dragić’s Long Drink né Not Without My Brother né Warlocks At Da Club), and the depraved, predatory eyes of Pierre The Pelican have wreaked cold terror on our lives for 3 long years in concurrence with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett reaching peak cranky, at the Dawn of the Silver Age; when all of these conditions are met, it is NBA prophecy that Jason Kidd will be ejected to the bottom of the sea.
I hate Jason Kidd, it’s true, but this is bigger than me and as stone-set as Natural Law. It’s called the Scumbag Statute and it’s as sure as breathing and as primal as a bunch of old-ass farmers getting together every year and inventing an almanac. There were some chances it could’ve been stopped this past regular season – had someone dunked over a painting of themselves, if LeBron didn’t embellish the number of friends he has, the capturing and safe removal of the evil Plumlee from this earth, etc – but without any of them having been heeded Kidd’s fate is sealed, the ancient wheels in motion.
It will unfold as such: The Bulls will defeat the Bucks 4-2, Derrick Rose revealing in Game 3 that his knees are the only part of his body affected by Mercury Retrograde. Going forward, his team doctor develops specially magnetized splints that reverse the cosmic reversal and he is able to transcend this once crippling condition. He is also sent to the spa more often because everyone realizes they were being a little hard on him. The Greek Freak and Gasol rumble around on the court like a couple of Titans but strike up a secret off-court relationship revolving mainly around arm wrestling that hurts both of their foul shots. Because the collective age of the Bucks adds up to one fake ID they spend most of their nights in Chicago holed up in the hotel while Thibodeau’s silhouette Hitchcocks itself against every alleyway and dark corner. The Bucks grow afraid, they stop checking in with their coach at night. At home, where a freak April deep-freeze has thrust the city back into winter, none of them want to leave their houses and even then, nary a PS4 gets touched. It is in this way the bloodlust rising in Bango goes unnoticed. When casting their memories back, a few members of the Bucks dance team will recall Bango mumbling guttural under his breath, “The Buck stops here” but thought it a new pump-up tactic given the poor performance of the players on home court.
The sun starts setting earlier in Milwaukee in what seems an eerie reversal back to Winter Solstice. In Chicago, everyone is feeling pretty happy with the warmest spring on record unfolding. Thibodeau wears a tank top and seems confident about the choice. Michael Jordan has been spotted a few times around town with what looks like a full trunk of scrap metal one day, and strange, futuristic looking mechanical parts the next. Derrick Rose is so loose from his spa visits he maneuvers around, over, above every Milwaukee player and once through the legs of Bayless, who shares his same identical height. Bango is looking less and less like the freewheelin’ Buck of yore and more like the severe, stylized 2014-2015 season logo. His letterman sweater seems to be unraveling in real time, a line of green yarn trailing him wherever he goes.
Jason Kidd disappears in the night. The only thing recovered from his home is a phone with some really out of focus selfies and a well-worn copy of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. Strangely, no one seems that worried and for the first day in many it stops snowing. A strange cannon-like structure is spotted on the frozen shores of Whitefish Bay by some dudes that were really out for a rip on their ski-doos. When attempting a closer inspection they swear they saw something hanging from the precipice cocooned in what looked like green yarn but they never got a good look because something with red eyes glared at them from the nearby woods and “fuckin spooked the right living shit fuckin right the fuck outta us” [sic]. The police are too busy with distress calls from people getting stranded on ice floes in Lake Michigan as the temperature begins to climb to start any kind of search and the NBA rules in favor of the Bulls taking the series, mostly cause everyone else has finished up their first rounds and is getting a touch chompy at the bit.
Waking from what seems like the kind of night he’d had back on the Jersey Shore Kidd comes to with a groggy smile on his face but soon realizes he’s lodged into what appears to be a tight, cylindrical tube. He pummels the glass panel with his palms and screams as an antlered head jerks into view. Bango stares down at him with blood red eyes, frothing at the mouth, returned to his natural hide save for a ratty, green sweater collar around his neck. His antlers are bloodied and Kidd makes out what looks like the remnants of a number 11 Heat jersey hanging from them in shreds. Kidd screams again and Bango makes what seems like the “hang loose” hand gesture before disappearing from sight. The machine around him groans and rumbles to life and Kidd feels his stomach sink and skin go cold in a feeling he realizes was described to him once as “fear of consequence”. He has about 5 seconds to reflect on it before he is launched into the atmosphere and goes unconscious.
He wakes again as the chamber hits the Atlantic. It was made by a rabid deer and the shoddy machinist skills of Michael Jordan so it begins to take on seawater immediately. He sinks. He is [coordinates redacted] off the [coordinates redacted] and he knows no one would ever think to look for him here. He thinks of his Nike Zoom Uptempo commercial, he thinks of his Century 21 bobblehead, his eyes roll back into his head, the ocean presses down on him in a way incurring all the luxury tax of the Nets never did.