Nikola Jokic pulled up to the Pepsi Center several hours before the game and immediately realized that something was amiss:
The arena was on fire.
Feeling a sinking sensation in his stomach, Nikola got out of his car. There were just a few small pockets of flame on the roof of the building, but even as he watched, the flickering flames grew and spread. Most of the game-day employees hadn’t arrived yet, but there was still a sizable crowd of people gathered in the parking lot. On the edge of his hearing, Nikola thought he could hear screams coming from inside the structure, but they didn’t sound like screams of pain; no, they sounded like screams of deranged pleasure.
Nikola was about to call 911 when he heard sirens in the distance. Of course, one of the others who had been in the building had called, if the arena’s fire protection system hadn’t summoned the firefighters automatically. Nikola began to walk across the parking lot to perhaps get some answers from the assembled employees when he heard the sudden sound of squealing tires. But the location of the sound confused him; it seemed to be coming from inside the building. He looked over his shoulder just in time to see a flaming hot-pink sports-car burst noisily through the glass entryway of the arena, driven by a person very familiar to him.
“I HATING YOU NIKOLAAAAA!” Jusuf Nurkic yelled as his burning vehicle sped full-speed towards the spot where Nikola stood frozen in place. “I HAAAAAATING YOOOOOOOOOOU, BUT NOW I IS FREEEEEEEE!”
Nikola just had time to register the fact that, not only was Jusuf’s car on fire, but Jusuf himself was on fire, before he dove to safety. As his body scraped against the pavement, he heard two more loud crashes. Lifting his head, he saw that Jusuf had crashed head-on into a light pole, which had fallen onto the convertible and crushed it cleanly down the center.
Jusuf, stunned by the collision and still on fire, weakly opened the driver-side door and limply fell out onto the parking lot, moaning. Nikola lifted himself to his feet and ran over to his ex-teammate, taking off his shirt and slapping it on Jusuf to put out the flames. The onlookers watched the unfolding scene from a distance, seemingly afraid to become more involved.
Nikola was still struggling to find the right words to say when Jusuf suddenly held up his hand from his position lying on the ground. “It was pleasure being teammate with you, Nikola,” he said, smiling earnestly and clearly expecting to shake hands as if the two were great friends.
Nikola shook Jusuf’s hand, but thought this was a strange change of attitude as well as an incredible display of pain tolerance. “Uh, Jusuf, you just set the arena on fire, and then you tried to run me over with this car that I’m pretty sure you stole.”
Jusuf nodded proudly. “Yep. I might not succeeded to killing Nikola, but now Nuggets cannot playing, so Nikola havings no job, and he havings to go back to smelly Serbia to milking cows and I goings to Portland and have many fans and hot chicks and be superstar.” Police had arrived on the scene and, having heard Jusuf’s admission, forced him on his stomach to handcuff him. Jusuf did not resist; he only continued to smile as if nothing was wrong.
The arena was burning more intensely now, and the sound of the crackling flames could be heard easily over the sounds of the sirens and of the firefighters trying to coordinate their efforts. Whatever Jusuf had done to initiate the inferno, it had been very effective. “I don’t think the Blazers are going to want to play an admitted arsonist and failed murderer very many minutes, honestly,” Nikola said as Jusuf was roughly picked up and marched to the waiting squad car. “Certainly not enough minutes to be a ‘superstar'”.
“Maybe is true, but also nobody wantings to give Nikola minutes because of Nikola’s loving of man penis in mouth to suck,” Jusuf replied, stilling wearing the oddly serene smile on his face. He was forced to sit down in the backseat of the squad car, but his eyes remained fixed on his nemesis. “Bye-bye, Nikola! Always remembering how much I hating you!”
Nikola didn’t respond. In the orange glow of the setting sun, he watched the cop car drive away, but he continued staring in that direction long after the car had disappeared around a corner. He felt as if the current chapter of his life had concluded. But what would the next chapter hold?