The following story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to persons or situations real or fake is entirely coincidental, and entirely awesome.
Fumbling an ice tray to the ground in the Warriors' break room, the thought struck me: Richard Jefferson must have been frustrated. As Richard is most interesting when frustrated, and as I have an uncanny gift for frustrating him, I smelled opportunity. I unexpectedly tapped Richard on the shoulder with my ice-cold hands and asked (in a deliberately annoying, lilting inflection) "How are you today, R-Jay?"
Though startled, Richard's response immediately convinced me that the end of days was at hand. The first thing I noticed was that Richard's eyes had a cartoonish glint to them, and even his teeth and nails seemed whiter. His skin was childish and immaculate as always, punctuated only by the occasional bump on the noggin received in the course of things. But today there were not even bumps, there were not even doubts: Richard exuded an uncharacteristic confidence as he turned to face me, wiped the proverbial dirt off his shoulder, and drowned out all the haters of the world. To my shock, there was even enthusiasm in his voice as he began one of his stream-of-entirely-reasonable-consciousness rants. "I'm actually doing just fine, John. How are you doing? How are your studies. You are an adolescent, and you know, that means that you must study in school much of the day. I hope you are learning things of import. I was a youngster, too, back in the Reagan Administration..." Jefferson trailed off amicably and smiled with the glee of precisely-aimed self-deprecation that nevertheless left him potent and confident.
I felt like the Grinch when Whoville didn't get all pissed off after someone stole their bikes.
"Why are you okay, RJ? You messed up with the ice tray and then I startled you with my hand. That's not right, RJ."
Richard kept at it. "Haha, whoa, John. You sound mad! Just a little bit, but I can taste it. 'U mad, bro?' I think that, you know, that's what the kids are saying these days, heh."
"Frig." I said clumsily, before receding my eyes at the seemingly reversed roles. I was mad, I thought. I am a basketball journalist that oozes confidence (my holy mantra being "smooth, suave, and sophisticated"), and I have watched Richard with fastidious amusement for four years of his absurdly reasonable demeanor while he unfortunately attempts to play a sport. And now, for once, he is unequivocally happy, and all I can do is stumble over my words in bafflement. So I tried to get an explanation. "I mean, what happened, Richard, did you get an extension? Did Mark Jackson say you were starting? Or maybe not playing at all? I'm never sure what you actually want, heh. Did, like, you find out you're a prodigy at a sport that you're *not* declining at? Did you get three 50-50 balls in a row for the first time in your life? Are you in love?" I asked everything I could think of, each one strangely insulting in its own way.
Richard laughed at all of these suggestions. "No, no, no, and no. None of that happened. You know, I'm still a pretty bad basketball player, all considering," Richard shrugged, still with confidence, "and I'm too reasonable to try other sports that might find me injured, and hence nullify my contract. I mean, definitely I'm still on the downswing. I didn't win any 50-50 balls ("Not even one, Richard?" I thought better than to interject), and I'm not in love. I'm not starting but I will be playing, but not much. Just like before. But," and Richard smiled once again, "I did have quite the recent experience."
"What in God's name happened, Richard? What in God's green Earth happened to provoke this? You know as well as I do that you should not be so happy." and Richard averred this with a shrug.
"Do you really want to know?" Richard asked with an amused look of genuine curiosity. "I mean, I'm not even a front-page player anymore. I won't really get any hits for your blog."
"RJ, I know nothing about what this story is but I will publish it, live, in real time. Just tell me. Please," I begged pathetically, somewhat to my own surprise. Like a dog, I recalled from Kafka.
"Are you sure?" and now Richard Jefferson was mocking me and I wasn't sure how to respond, except to note from the tenor of his voice the only possible explanation.
"Richard Jefferson, did you win at something, finally?"
At this Richard smiled silently.
"You might say that, John," and he began to tell the story. Continue reading