Carmelo Anthony lingered outside the Blazers’ locker room after the game. He thought he heard a commotion inside, and he knew it wasn’t proper postgame etiquette to barge in unannounced, so he decided to wait until a player came out.
After a few minutes of waiting, a frazzled-looking Jake Layman burst out. Carmelo moved quickly to intercept him before he got away; he looked to be in a hurry.
“Yo, hey, wait up, I was wondering…”
“This is about the Nurkic thing, right?”
Carmelo half smiled. “Yeah, I was wondering if I could talk to him, you know, let him know that there was no hard feelings from me. Do you think you could go back in there and bring him out? I wanna tell him myself, you know, mano y mano.”
Jake sighed. “I don’t think that’s going to work right now. Nurk is pissed. Really pissed. You hear all that stuff going on in there? That’s Nurk. He’s not in a talking mood.”
Carmelo looked stunned. “But, it was just an accidental elbow, I didn’t…”
“No, no, it’s not that. I don’t think the dude even felt that, or remembers it at this point.”
“So he’s freaking out over…?”
“You know that big center over in Denver? The guy with all the triple-doubles, kinda flabby, kinda…”
“Nikola Jokic? Yeah, but what’s he got to do with anything?”
“Well, I don’t really know the background, but Nurk hates his guts. Like, it’s pathological at this point because he flips out at random about him. We’ve been trying to figure out what set him off this time, see if we can calm him down, but it’s useless. It’s like reasoning with a brick wall. A brick wall with fists, and…” Jake was interrupted by muffled noises from inside the locker room.
“JOKIC I HATING YOU! JOKIC TRY TO RUIN CAREER BUT I RUIN HIM CAREER INSTEAD! I TEACH LESSON ABOUT MESS WITH ME!”
This outburst was followed by incomprehensible bellowing. Jake looked around nervously.
“I’m so out of here. I stick around any longer and they’ll drag me back in there. They pay me to hoop, not to play psychologist for a seven-foot monster. My advice? Just forget about it. He’s not mad at you anyway. At least, not as mad as he is about other things.”
With that, Jake pushed past Carmelo and nearly ran off, head down. Carmelo stood for a couple seconds longer, looking curiously at the door, until what sounded like a chair being thrown at it prompted him to hustle off as well.