DeAndre Jordan was bored nearly to tears. On this perfectly straight stretch of Arizona highway which lay between Los Angeles and Houston, there was nothing to do but listen to podcasts. But his phone was almost out of battery and his car charger had been inadvertently left behind in Los Angeles, so now there weren’t even the podcasts. Just a flat gray strip of asphalt in a sea of dusty brown.
In the distance, a car was pulled over to the side of the road with its blinkers on. DeAndre slowed and prepared to stop to render assistance. He figured his phone had enough juice to make at least one emergency call. Pulling up behind the stopped car, he got out and approached the driver who was still inside.
“Oh, thank you so much for stopping!” squealed the elderly woman behind the wheel. Her heavy application of makeup looked runny and unpleasant in the 90-degree weather. “I don’t know what happened, this old car just made a funny sound and died.”
DeAndre noticed that the woman was exceptionally tall, but didn’t dwell on that fact for long. He pulled out his phone from his pocket and prepared to dial 911. He had no idea what towing companies, if any, serviced this extremely remote area. “Tell you what ma’am. I’ll ring up 911, and then I’ll keep you company until they arrive.”
“That would be great!” the woman said happily. “I don’t understand these new-fangled cell phones.”
DeAndre began to respond, but no words ever left his mouth – all of a sudden, a blinding pain erupted in the back of his head, as if he had been attacked from behind by some unknown assailant, and he fell to the road, unconscious.
Returning to consciousness slowly, DeAndre didn’t immediately open his eyes. Instead, he moaned in response to the lingering throbs of pain in his head.
“You’re awake,” said a cold, yet familiar, voice. “Good.”
DeAndre realized that his arms and legs were tied to something, and that he couldn’t move them. “I don’t know if there’s anything ‘good’ about this situation,” he replied, aware that this glib response might provoke anger from his captor but not caring.
The anticipated rage did not materialize. In fact, the man’s voice sounded more gleeful than anything else. “But there is, DeAndre. Open your eyes.”
When DeAndre did as he was told and saw who he was addressing, he moaned again, but this time, it was due to exasperation and not physical pain. “Naw man. Not you again.”
Mark Cuban laughed giddily. “Who else would covet your talents so strongly that they were willing to set a trap for you on a remote desert highway using one of their own players as a decoy in order to kidnap you and hold you captive in an abandoned former crack den?”
DeAndre’s eyes raked across the dingy room to see Dirk Nowitzki sitting quietly in the corner next to a baseball bat. “That was you? You were the old lady?” DeAndre asked in disbelief.
“It wasn’t my idea,” Dirk replied sullenly, not taking his eyes off the patch of floor he was intently staring at. “I told Cubes it was a bad idea to abduct you.”
“Don’t lie, Dirk. When I told you about my genius plan you were super excited,” Mark said. “You were like, ‘I can’t wait to have a mobile defensive big next to me so I can throw lobs to him and not ever have to take contact or rebound’. Those were your exact words.”
“I never said that,” Dirk protested. “We have Nerlens filling that role now as long as you don’t screw up his free agency.”
Mark had a strangely vacant look on his face. “I don’t know who Nerlens is. That name’s not familiar to me.” He blinked a few times. “All I know is that DeAndre reneged on his promise to sign with us, and now I have him here and I’m not letting him go until he renews his promise.”
“Uh, yeah, I’d love to play for the Mavs, man, but I can’t really do that when I’m tied up like this.” DeAndre said.
Mark didn’t seem to question this line of thinking. “Good point,” he said, quickly working to untie his captive. Once released from his bonds, DeAndre stood up and began to walk towards the door. He expected some sort of resistance, but met none. Mark was just smiling stupidly at him, while Dirk was shaking his head looking miserable. Finally, Mark supplied, “Your car’s parked outside.”
Thinking that Mark was least capable abductor ever, DeAndre nodded. “I’ll, uh, call my agent and, uh, secure a buyout so I can, you know, sign with with you. Yeah.”
Mark smiled and opened his arms, as if he was showcasing the Mavs’ modern facilities. “Welcome to the Mavs, DeAndre.”
DeAndre tried to smile in return, but could only grimace. “Yeah. See you.” He quickly found his way out of the old house, but as he was leaving, he could hear a yelled voice from an upstairs window.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN I LET HIM GO?” Mark’s face appeared in the same window. “DeAndre, please come back in here,” he pleaded. “I think I need to tie you back up again so you don’t escape.”
DeAndre urgently put the car in drive and sped away to the receding sounds of Mark’s desperate wails.