(4) Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game vs. (13) Travis Porter, Passing Glory
Some lady is leaning out the window of a building, cupping her hands and screaming down some 10 stories to the court. You can’t even make out her face from here. But you can definitely hear her. Jesus Shuttlesworth looks up out of habit – a childhood habit – and shrugs. He’s used to it. Every person, newspaper, media member, fan, friend and opponent has used his name in one way or another, sometimes to praise him, sometimes to mock him. It is what it is.
Ever since he went away to Big State University, Jesus can’t even walk down the street anymore. It’s like people find out his name is Jesus and suddenly, he’s automatically a celebrity. It doesn’t matter that he’s just now moving into the starting lineup at State. It doesn’t matter that there’s some guy in the NBA who looks and plays exactly like he does. No one cares about him. It’s all about Jesus.
Even right now, it’s all about Jesus. No one came here to see Travis Porter. The high school kid is doing whatever he can to impress in warm-ups. Normally, people would be fawning over him. Jams off the glass. Step-back jumpers. One-dribble pull-ups. He’s attacking the warm-ups like it’s the actual game. Gotta get the crowd on your side, especially when you’re playing at the Garden in Coney Island. Outsiders get no love here unless they can play.
Still, some of the crowd snickers. Porter’s wearing some shorts that barely cover his whole thigh, with a shirt that has sleeves running down almost to his elbows. The faded yellow and purple colors are shiny and silky. It all looks odd. “Go back to the ‘60s man!” someone yells out at Porter. The kid doesn’t even notice the heckling. He’s used to a lot worse.
Even the reporters don’t seem to care about Porter. He’s 6-4, full of springs and has an agitated look on his face, frustrated that not one person is giving him a chance. Yet, even the basketball folk only want to talk to Jesus. A few of them – guts jiggling and papers flailing – come rushing over once they see Jesus put down the ball and walk towards his bench. “Jesus!” They’re calling at him, and start asking questions before they even reach him, before he even acknowledges them.
“What’s basketball mean to you?” one asks, shoving a recorder out in front of him.
“Basketball…it’s like poetry in motion,” Jesus starts. “Just coming down the court. You got a defender in your way. You take him to the left, you take him back to the right…and he’s falling back…and sssssshhh, J right in his face.”
They’re all eating this up. He can tell. Tomorrow, there will be headlines like “Jesus Walks!” and “Jesus Is A God” and “We Love Jesus!” It doesn’t even matter if he wins or loses. So, he grins and continues.
“And then you look at him. And then you say what?”
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