(4) Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game vs. (12) Scott Howard, Teen Wolf
The Wolf crosses over and jumps almost in the same instant, 360-ing through the air and then dunking even before Jesus can get his hand up. No one expected this. It’s 5-1, the Wolf, and Jesus is either scared, nervous, surprised or just plain disgusted with all of the greasy hair. The Wolf hasn’t shaved for a month they say, and he hasn’t bathed in twice that long. You can smell him from half court, drenched in sweat, slippery as a wet cat.
Jesus wore his old Lincoln uniform to this one for no real reason. But now he feels like it was a sign. He knows why it was sitting there on his bed this morning, all folded and cleaned and straight and shining. Someone wanted him to wear it today. It looks better than it did the first day he ever wore it, some three years ago. All of the wind sprints, the suicides, the Saturday midnights in the gym, they all should be stitched into that lining, the years stamped into the blue and white. But Jesus couldn’t see any of that. Someone had washed it clean. A new day.
It sure feels like a new day. With rain beating down on them, a basketball shower, Jesus had already fallen twice: once, when the Wolf put a move on him that left pretty much everyone inaudible. The other time was when Shuttlesworth went for a pull-up, but instead ended up on his backside on the ground, water splashing into his face.
The weather doesn’t frighten the Wolf though. He seems to have supernatural powers, something more than a gift from God. Something even more powerful.
Jesus is about to lose it all – his rep, his city, his game, his confidence – before he remembers…
Rain used to make him happy. Back in the day, actually on this same exact court, the sight of clouds and thunder always got him excited. It meant no running, no suicides. His father would still make him play, but at least things would be easier.
“We can’t afford any injuries,” Jake used to tell him and he knew his father was right. A strained hamstring or a knee giving out wouldn’t get them anywhere. Jesus was just a kid, but he was already thinking ahead. He already had it mapped out, and the damage all this work was doing to his body couldn’t be accelerated with some stupid, rain-induced slippage.
Jesus is smiling, thinking back. The Wolf just looks at him, hands extended out calling for the ball. Just like that, Jesus gets a stop and then a score, hitting the same shot that wasn’t falling for him just moments earlier in the rain.
“You better D-up Scott…”
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