Basketball has always been synonymous with music. Whether you wanted to be like Mike Jordan or Killer Mike, what makes one great is also what makes the other great. Competition! Both are highly competitive whether that's dunking on an opponent or dropping a diss track. So when The Tulsa Voice sponsored a fiction writing contest I too wanted in on the competition. Inspired by the recent release of 2 Chainz's album I already had the perfect title. "Rap Or Go To The League". Here's the story:
Rap or go to the League
“Your gonna be OK son. Just take this shot from the doc and get back on the court and win this game.”
“Coach I can’t feel my toes.”
“Son listen. They’re there. All you need is to be able to move your legs. There’s some pro scouts in the stands and they’re here to see you. Do you want to mess that all up over some pain?”
The pain becomes increasingly more intense as the adrenaline starts to leave his body. “Take the shot.” These are the words that Malcolm has heard his whole life. The hours of extra practice from his high school coach who said he saw something special in him. To his father who at an early age would make him shoot free throws the whole night until he made he was satisfied.
“Malcolm it ain’t worth it. You don’t need to do this to make it to the league. You’re already the top player in the NCAA.”
“Shut up Peters. I’m the coach here. Now Malcolm. The doctor already said it was OK to take the shot. You trust me don’t you?”
Trust had always been hard for Malcolm. His father left him and his mother when he was still in elementary. His mother had failed relationship after failed relationship that left Malcolm as the man of the house. Knowing of this responsibility his own guilt from leaving his mother behind had still plagued him. Coach Larry had been his only father figure up until now. He still remembers the 12 hour trip the coach took personally from Kentucky to visit his home on the northside of Tulsa. “Coach I’m not sure.”
“Now you listen here Johnson. I know about your little rap video. I also know that the money in that video had been given to you from that hot shot agent Mike Sanders. Now take the damn shot and let's win this game.“
“OK Give me the shot.”
“That a boy.”
“This won’t hurt.”
The long and pointed syringe slowly pierced his skin right below his right knee. Malcolm grimaced in pain as felt the pressure from the syringe increase as the saline spread through his body. After a minute the pain start to subside as the feeling of numbness began taking over. With a deep breath and sigh of relief, Malcolm was finally pain free. And with the help of the doctor stood to his feet.
“I told you it would be OK. NOW LET’S GO WIN THIS FUCKING GAME.”
The team re-energized slap the team banner as they run out of the tunnel and onto the court. Malcolm leads the way with a powerful gallup. His fist pounding his chest. The crowd stands to applause as their star returns to the game. On queue the loud speaker begins to play:
Still got them D1 Dreams,
Just wanna ball in the league
So I can take care of the house
Malcolm collapses to the floor.
So there you have it, and in just in under 500 words I had what I thought was a slam dunk. I waited days. And days past the submission deadline. Today is when I finally got the email that unfortunately I didn't win. Why? I know I can write. Have people been lying to me all this time? What do I do next? A million questions were running through my mind. Then reality set in. Maybe they didn't know what the story was truly about.
Rap Or Go To The League is about an college star player named Malcolm Johnson that had gotten injured during the 1st half of the game. The story starts during halftime in the locker room where Malcolm is faced with a hard decision. Take a shot that has the potential to harm his body or not take the shot and be blackmailed by his coach for taking money to shoot his rap video.For a kid that is 18 this would be a hard decision to make. Even more, if's March Madness and there's real people living this situation. The money that is made from TV sponsorship deals are in the billions. But players like Malcolm will never see a dime. Their only hope is going to the league or in Malcolm's case try to rap also.
I wanted this story to live with Tulsa. So I decided to incorporate the artist Steph Simon's lyrics at the end. D1 Dreams. It seemed to be the perfect lyrics to sum up what it actually meant to make it. It explains the risks that people take just to get what they feel like is success. It's also the risk that Malcolm took and as the story ended, costed him his life.
So maybe the judges didn't connect. Or maybe it was not good. But one thing is still true. I still have them D1 Dreams.
Listen to the song D1 Dreams below: