In The Clutch

I go up for the layup and the feel my legs vanish from beneath me. I start to spin and hit the hardwood on my shoulder. Unable to break my fall. I see the crowd wince and look away before I can assess the damage. I don't speak Russian but the fans have always been good to me. If they aren't willing to look at me right now, it has to be bad.

As I try to get to my feet, my right arm collapses beneath me. It's broken. I don't need to see more. Coach is yelling something at me. I don't understand but he's motioning for me to stay put. I can't bring myself to look at my arm or my teammates. This was the game that could send us to the championship round and I screwed up. If I had just taken the two, we could be moving on right now. Instead, they all look on as I try not to cry in front of thousands.

It's college all over again. Back then it was an ankle. Now it's an arm. It seems like every time I get ahead in life, there's a major setback. Teams already thought I was injury prone before this. My career is over. I'm just going to be another old person telling everyone how much tougher it was in my day. I'm not even old enough for AARP yet.

The medics insist on lifting me onto a stretcher. I just look pitiful. I never wanted to see a crowd from this angle again. Different country, same disgust. I don't know if they're sick from seeing an injury or sick knowing we won't be bringing home a title this year. UMMC is going to take it for the umpteenth time.

"Thumb up for fan," whispers one of the medics in broken English.

I sigh and stick a thumb in the air as we cross half court. The fans go wild and chant their thanks. Would it be wrong to say fuck the fans? They don't care and they're not going to be there to help when I try to recover or revitalize my career. It's a wrap for me. I just want to go home.

Read Part 2 

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