Jusuf Nurkic and his teammates were gathered in a Portland nightclub, celebrating their latest victory. Liquor was flowing freely; trays full of shot glasses were being brought to their tables in a never-ending stream, and expensive bottles of wine were crudely guzzled without remorse.
“And then Kanter tried to post him up and he blocked that bitch all the way back to Turkey!” Allen Crabbe yelled drunkenly, retelling another tale of Jusuf’s domination. “Bosnia is the best!” The rest of the assembled teammates whooped and hollered in agreement.
Jusuf smiled humbly as he stole another mozzarella stick off of Meyers Leonard’s plate. “Yes, Bosnia is great place, but I liking Portland very much too.” There were some groans at this sappy pronouncement, but they were drowned out by hollering and calls both for more beverages and for more deep-fried appetizers.
Meyers Leonard, who hadn’t noticed that his mozzarella sticks were being pilfered, leaned in closer to Jusuf. “And now you only have me to fight for minutes, not an emerging superstar like that Jokic guy!” he self-deprecatingly joked.
Jusuf froze up for a second, then forced a laugh out of his mouth. “Yeah. Just you now, haha.” But the reminder of his foe from his Denver days had cast an angry tint over the whole event. He chugged a few more beers as his teammates moved on to the subject of which chicks they would try to take home. Jusuf chuckled and supplied brief commentary at the appropriate moments, but was growing increasingly agitated.
Finally, he pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. “This music sucking,” he announced, before starting to walk over to where the club’s DJ was set up.
“Uh, should somebody stop him?” Allen slurred.
“Nah, let’s just see how this plays out,” Meyers replied. “He’s not wrong. This music blows.”
Even when Jusuf walked up behind the DJ and boxed him in the side of the head, cleanly knocking him out, none of the Blazers got up to try to restrain their teammate. In the dim light of the place, the rest of the clubgoers didn’t notice anything amiss until the driving dubstep music was abruptly cut off and quickly replaced with rap beats.
Suddenly, Jusuf’s voice was being broadcast over the sound system. “I loving Portland people and teammates,” he rapped awkwardly, failing to match his syncopated words to the beat. “But I hating Nikola Jokic. Hating Nikola Jokic. Hating Nikola Jokic.” He repeated this sentence like a mantra. “Portland good. Denver bad. If trying to take minutes from me, I murdering you. This is warning.”
The Blazers exchanged worried glances, and some of them looked ready to go try to corral their teammate when Jusuf shouted/rapped a final “Nikola eats many penis all day” and voluntarily walked back to his table. He was surprised to see that the lively atmosphere of the gathering had become subdued. “Why sadness faces?” he asked. “I loving new team unless you taking minutes away!”
“I gotta get going,” Allen said, putting on his coat. There were murmurs of agreement and much rustling to get belongings in order and finish drinks. Soon, only Jusuf and Meyers were left.
“You’re not really going to murder anybody, are you?” Meyers asked lightly, but with an obvious undertone of worry in his voice.
A thin smile crossed Jusuf’s lips. “We’ll see.”