The team plane was silent; it was two in the morning, and everybody was asleep.
Everybody, that is, except one JaVale McGee, who couldn’t get to sleep no matter how much he tried. His mind was preoccupied with rumors that had been circulating the locker room for some time, rumors that Stephen had somehow acquired a sort of lucky charm that would make him a better three-point shooter. JaVale was excited by the prospect, knowing that a Steph who shot 50% from three would single-handedly guarantee the team a championship, but he was also doubtful. He had to find out more.
Sneaking quietly up the aisle towards where Stephen had an entire four-seat block to himself, JaVale took the seat next to him and began poking him. “Steph wake up. Steph wake up. Steph wake up,” JaVale whispered, jabbing his finger into Stephen’s cheek. “Steph. Steph. Steph. Wake up Steph.” Every finger poke was accompanied by another whispered “Steph”.
Finally, Stephen stirred. “Whoever’s poking me, stop it,” he said testily, not opening his eyes.
“It’s your pal JaVale,” JaVale said. “I need to ask you about that three-point thingy you have.”
“I don’t have a ‘three-point thingy’, man. Let me go back to sleep.”
JaVale was saddened by this news. “Oh. I just thought if you did, it would be cool to, you know, see it and touch it and stuff.”
His recalcitrance apparently assuaged by JaVale’s earnest interest, Stephen admitted, “Okay, fine, I do have a three-point shooting amulet.” He briefly pulled out a lightly glowing pendant from underneath his shirt, then put it back. “There. Happy?”
JaVale nodded. “Do they make ones that help you dunk too?”
Stephen rolled his eyes; JaVale could barely perceive this gesture in the dimness of the plane’s cabin. “It’s technically possible, but the arcane rituals undertaken to produce this item of vast power are beyond the abilities of nearly all mortal men.”
Slowly processing Stephen’s too-wordy sentence, JaVale finally replied, “I bet you could make one out of, like, burritos or something. It wouldn’t be too hard.”
“You shouldn’t talk about things that you clearly don’t understand,” Stephen snapped. “I’m going back to sleep now. Just forget about the amulet. It doesn’t concern you.” Seeing that his teammate was truly annoyed, JaVale got up and returned to his original seat. But the idea had been planted in his head.
In the farthest corner of the Chipotle restaurant, JaVale McGee appeared to be eating his burrito just like every other customer there. However, something far more ominous than mere consumption was taking place.
Keeping one furtive eye on the rest of the restaurant to make sure he wasn’t attracting undue attention, JaVale carefully tore off a strip of tortilla from his burrito and set it aside. This was to serve as the base of what he had taken to calling his “pendant of dunking”. Next, he laid a few bits of filling from his burrito onto the tortilla strip. He made extra sure that all ingredients were represented. Then, following a sudden muse that entered his mind, he retrieved a dime from his pocket and placed it on top.
JaVale paused there, trying to remember how the person who had made his burrito had folded the tortilla. After a few seconds of not remembering, he gave up and just rolled up the ingredients into the tortilla. Then, to make sure it stayed secure, he took the tinfoil that had surrounded his original burrito, carefully flattened it, and used it to wrap up the golf ball-sized burrito ball several times over.
Stephen had mentioned “arcane rituals”, but JaVale didn’t know exactly what those rituals were. Instead, he closed his eyes and said a prayer to an improvised deity called the “God of Dunking”, asking for his pendant of dunking to blessed with holy dunking power. When the prayer was over, he again checked to make ensure he wasn’t being observed, then placed the pendant on a simple metal chain he had brought with him.
Next practice, he would definitely test it out.
Stephen walked to the door of the Warriors’ practice gym, then stopped. From inside, he could hear loud exclamations of disbelief coming from what sounded like his entire team. Curious to see what was going on, but also having a small inkling of what might be occurring within those walls, he entered just in time to see JaVale get a running start, take off from just behind the three-point line, rise up fifteen feet in the air, and dunk.
All while chomping calmly on a burrito he held in his other hand.
Storming up to his high-flying teammate, Stephen said angrily, “How did you do that?”
“I made a dunking pendant out of a burrito just like you said I couldn’t do,” JaVale answered proudly, still chewing on his bite of burrito.
Stephen shook his head. “No. No. That’s not how it works. You don’t just MAKE an enchanted relic like that. It takes skill.”
“My dunks say otherwise,” JaVale replied. Then he turned to the rest of his teammates. “Who wants to watch me dunk it from half court?”