Jusuf Nurkic knew exactly which back entrance he would use to gain entry to the Moda Center. It wasn’t strictly necessary to be so secretive, but the less attention he drew to himself, the more likely his plan was to execute flawlessly. He made his way to the door near the loading dock with the faulty lock. One swift kick and the mechanism was broken off.
The next part was trickier. Navigating his way to the upper bowl surrounding the court, he could see his target: the catwalks near the ceiling that facilitated high-angle cameras, lighting, and other technical necessities. But from his vantage point, he could see no way to access the catwalks from any publicly-accessible location. He needed help.
A half hour later, Jusuf had secured the services of one of the arena’s higher-ranking maintenance people by way of a very generous bribe. Now possessing the key to access the arena’s upper catwalks, and having learned the details of the building’s lighting and audio systems, he felt that his plan was guaranteed to work.
It was fifteen minutes before tip-off. Jusuf Nurkic lay flat against the catwalk, the same position he had been in for the past two hours. He could peek his head over the edge and see his teammates warming up; they weren’t expecting him to be at the game, of course, because Jusuf had concocted a convincing excuse involving diarrhea and a fever. Withdrawing a small walkie-talkie from his pocket, he pressed the button and whispered, “Gets ready.”
There was a pause before the response came. “I’m still uneasy about this whole thing, just so you know.”
Jusuf didn’t reply back, only shook his head in disappointment. He went back to his silent waiting, and the downtime gave him ample opportunity to ponder at all the wrongs perpetrated upon him, and how they were about to be righted all at once.
Finally, the lineup announcements were starting. Just as the announcer began to introduce Nikola Jokic, Jusuf issued a single command into his walkie-talkie: “Now.”
The lights in the arena all went off at once, and the announcer’s voice was similarly cut off. Jusuf smiled; his accomplice hadn’t gotten cold feet after all. He lifted himself to his feet, microphone in hand, and as he did so, a spotlight pointed directly at him turned on. Relishing the gasps of surprise and dismay from the crowd, and feeling freshly overcome by the hate that coursed through his body, he brought the microphone closer to his mouth.
“I HATING NIKOLA JOKIC!” Jusuf yelled into the microphone, fully aware of just how demented his voice sounded. Now that all attention was on him, his fury only increased, but he attempted to keep his voice level. “Nikola Jokic tryings to ruin my career. But he is failings to ruin career, same to how he failings at all thing in pathetic life. Many penis he put in mouth all day.” As he uttered this last crude remark, his walkie-talkie was turned on, as the insult was actually a code phrase to allow his accomplice to prepare the next step. After hearing a quiet assent from the man, he continued, “All in arena, now looking at ugly dumb face of Nikola!”
A second spotlight turned on, its beam directly pointed at Nikola. When Nikola tried in vain to move out of the way, the light followed him. Eventually, Nikola responded, but not in response to anything that Jusuf had said. “Jusuf, you have to come down from there. It’s not safe!” his ex-teammate shouted.
Jusuf took a step closer to Nikola, but slipped a little bit as he did so, eliciting gasps from the crowd. Catching himself before he fell, he replied, “Real not safe thing is stupid Nikola Jokic beings main player on team. Plan like that sure to making into ruins Nuggets organization.”
“Why do you care what the Nuggets do, Jusuf?” Nikola yelled back. “That chapter of your life has ended! It’s no longer your concern! Just move on!”
Furious that this man had the gall to tell him how to live his life, Jusuf restlessly began to pace back and forth on the thin catwalk. “Nuggets is ruinings my career!” he wailed. “Only it not just Nuggets – it Nikola Jokic who is the fault! And now…I will coming down.”
With these words spoken, Jusuf took the step that had been planned all along. He flung his body off the catwalk, aiming his body at the spot where Nikola stood.
Time seemed to slow, and the fall took much longer than it should have. Jusuf’s mind was filled with righteous glee, but that glee was replaced with surprise when he saw that Nikola had ruined the plan – he had dived out of the way. A second later, Jusuf saw the hard surface of the court directly in front of him; then, an explosion of pain, and a period of blackness.
A faint voice calling his name brought him back to reality. Jusuf summoned the remaining strength left in his wrecked body to lift his head a few inches. He saw Nikola’s concerned face looking down at him and grinned. “I…hating…Nikola…Jokic…” he sputtered. Then, he closed his eyes for the last time, and knew ultimate peace.