Dancing in the locker room in a champagne shower, he feels accepted; he knew they would three-peat, he just never imagined he’d be NBA Finals Co-MVP with LeBron James. As they wrap in a championship embrace, a faint beeping noise rings in his head. Suddenly, the cacophonous beep of the alarm intensifies. His nubby fingers graze the snooze button, but frustration sets in when he realizes he has been sequestered from the dream of a lifetime. As he lays supine under his old Chicao Bulls bed sheets his grandpa gave him, his mother’s voice echoes, "DJ! Wake up! Summer school starts in 30 minutes". All he could think about was tonight’s matchup between his beloved Heat and a bunch of lucky old guys of whom he wasn’t very fond; however, after failing his Algebra class, he needed to make up the credit.
The Portland morning air was brisk as he peddled to class. His Miami heat snapback slid around on his head as he labored on the pedals. Today was a momentous occasion, so he decided to break in his brand new Jordan 11 "Concords" that he purchased for $40 off a Chinese website months earlier. As he strut into class, his eyes hovered to the back wall; making eye contact was a sign of weakness, so was sitting in a desk remotely near the front of the classroom. Sitting three rows behind the nearest person afforded him the luxury of sleeping in the half-empty brick room, devoid of air conditioning. His pension receiving, retired teacher taught in the summers to supplement his costly woodworking hobby. As class wound to a close, D.J. figured he ought to contribute something numerically related to the class, so he bet the kid three rows in front of him $20 that Lebron would score 40 in Game 4; "easy money" he thought, as he sauntered out of class.
The afternoon flew by quickly. D.J. spent most of his time working on his NBA 2K14 dynasty. His affection for the Heat’s Big 3 was apparent in his dynasty, as he had simulated to the year 2050, importing a draft class with James, Bosh and Wade every time they retired. After barely defeating the Kobe Ewing lead-Sacramento Kings in the 2050 finals, capping off the incredible 38-peat, D.J. realized it was almost time for the game. Frantically, he threw on his lucky Reebok Mario Chalmers jersey, and raced down to McDonalds to grab his favorite Mighty Kids meal double cheeseburger.
When he returned, he shoved his little brother off his lucky spot on the couch and turned on the game. As the Spurs raced out to a 13-4 lead, D.J. sat calmly professing to his brother how the Heat would have the lead for good by the end of the first quarter. Promptly, Chris Bosh awoke from his game 3 lull and helped cut the lead to 3, "See, I told you. We champions, we don’t get nervous" he yelled to his brother. Before he could check the comments on his Facebook post predicting a 30 point Heat win, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and co. began to blitz his favorite team. He couldn’t believe his eyes as Boris Diaw flushed a dunk over Dwayne Wade, and then delivered a Magic Johnson-esque behind the back assist from the post. He tried to remain calm but inside a storm was brewing. As Patty Mills sank a corner three to extend the lead to 18, the rainclouds started to deliver their contents. Sprinting to his room, he slammed the door and dove face down onto the bed.
Five minutes of uninterrupted and incoherent sobs and screams into the pillow ended abruptly. Fiercely, he fired his Chalmers jersey into the corner of his closet. As he went to slam his closet door shut, his faded, white Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey beckoned to him. As he slid the mesh around his shoulder blades, he found solace. Instantly, he was prompted to head to the park for some pickup basketball, for he couldn’t stand the thought of ending the night a loser. Hopping onto his Huffy for the umpteenth time, he raced down to the park.
Flicking both wrists as he shot alone, warming up on the far side of the court, he tried to impress the other kids. After hitting a near half-court shot on his 9th attempt, he approached the other boys, ready to dominate. The young Blazer fans hooping with him harassed him for donning the Kobe jersey, he fired back quickly, "16 rings, how many y’all got? That’s what I thought!". The pickup game didn’t go quite as planned for D.J.; after getting scored on repeatedly and clanking a few fade-away threes, he decided his ankle hurt too bad for him to continue on; "No shame in that" He thought.
As he checked his phone before departing the park, he saw he had missed a call from his mother, but above all, his screensaver caught his eyes. LeBron James staring back at him on his iPhone 5c brought back feelings of frustration, and anger; however, he still maintained a glimmer of hope. Desperately, he pounded the pedals to make it home in time to catch what he prayed to be a legendary Heat comeback. As he flicked on the television, his heart sank. He had envisioned LeBron triumphantly carrying the Heat to victory, but what he got instead was Greg Oden making his NBA Finals debut to the sound of Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson discussing the merits of dessert being classified as leftovers. Tears returned.
This was oblivion; this was a world full of Matt Bonner threes and Patty Mills’ towel slaps. Deep down, he empathized with his idol King James. He didn’t remember Dwayne Wade’s heroics in the 2006 Finals to even be disappointed with the now shell of the former superstar. His mind raced as the possibility of cheering for a losing team began to set in. Flashbacks of the Mavericks sweeping his Lakers in the 2011 Western Conference Semi-Finals began to come over him. Encompassed in the empty feeling of defeat, he turned on his refurbished MacBook Pro. Suddenly he remembered the $50 he had received from his Aunt Patty for his 16th birthday. His eyes were red and puffy as he filled out the payment information; it was a laborious process, but he eventually figured it out. As he clicked confirm order, his eyes scanned the screen: "Reebok Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Replica Players Jersey, Size Large" and suddenly, it was all okay again.