“You told me that it would happen,” LeBron James growled, standing up from his chair, putting his hands on the GM’s desk, and leaning in with dangerously narrowed eyes. “You gave me your assurance that the team I requested would be formed.”
Magic Johnson nervously avoided eye contact with the disgruntled superstar. “I tried, LeBron, but I don’t make the salary cap rules, and—”
LeBron slammed his fist on the wood surface in outrage. “You promised me! You promised me that you would form the Banana Boat team! And you broke your promise!” He looked around the office as if looking for something, then turned back to his new GM. “I don’t see any of them here. Do you?”
“No, LeBron, but—”
“Exactly!” LeBron was now pacing furiously back and forth on his side of the desk. “I’ll tell my agent that the deal is off. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll find a team that can absorb all of our contracts, then the banana boat crew will be united at last…” He got out his phone and scrolled to the entry for Rich Paul in his contact list.
“LeBron, I have your signed contract right here. You’re a Laker now.”
LeBron spotted the contract sitting on the desk, grabbed it, and ripped it up with enthusiasm. “I don’t know what contract you’re talking about. I never signed any contract.”
“We’ve got about a hundred digital and paper copies of that document, so while destroying it might have been satisfying from a metaphorical point of view, it didn’t change your fundamental contract status,” Magic replied. “Hey, where are you going?”
“I’m protesting. I’m going on strike,” LeBron said from the doorway. “I’m the best player in the NBA. I don’t need to stand for this treatment.” With that, he left.
The yellow watercraft bobbed gently in the waters of the Port of Los Angeles. On the last of its four available seats was a tall black man who was occupied with his phone. The other three seats were empty. Periodically, an incoming freight ship would sound its horn angrily at the unauthorized craft, but its sole passenger paid them no mind.
LeBron had enough supplies in his backpack to last a long time. It had already been 32 hours, and, aside from the discomfort of sleeping while sitting up, he was none the worse for wear. He fully expected to sit there on the banana boat for as long as it took. He had made his demands very clear via text message to Magic Johnson: he would not come ashore until Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony were all acquired by the Lakers and were then symbolically sat in the three remaining seats of the boat.
Realizing that it had been some hours since he last ate, LeBron carefully balanced his phone in between his legs and reached behind him to grab his backpack. Sifting through the carefully-chosen selection of protein bars, nutrient gels, sports drinks, and deteriorating fresh fruits, he chose a chocolate chip Clif Bar and set it next to his phone. However, while putting his backpack back in its spot, he swung his legs too far, and both his meal and his phone dropped into the water.
“Oh damn!” LeBron yelled, quickly submerging his hand to hopefully grab his lost items. His hand closed upon something, but when he brought it up, it was only a waterlogged Clif Bar, and a frantic search for the phone yielded nothing else.
Robbed of his one source of entertainment and his one way to contact the outside world, LeBron had no choice but to bring the inflatable banana closer to land and try to negotiate a replacement phone with passersby. Many were already gathered by the water to observe the strange behavior of the Lakers’ latest star acquisition, so LeBron had no trouble picking one to talk to. “Hey! Guy in the Huertas jersey! Toss your phone over here!”
The man hesitated, seemingly torn between keeping his valuable possessions and helping out an NBA superstar.
“You do want another Lakers three-peat, don’t you?” LeBron asked, impatiently holding out his hands to receive the man’s phone. When the man nodded mutely, apparently too starstruck to speak, LeBron continued, “Then give me your phone, bro. I’m assembling a superteam here.”
The phone in question had a very grippy case, so it was no problem for LeBron to catch it. “Thanks,” he called out, before taking the boat to a more secluded area of the water. Then, he placed the first of many phone calls.
“So, we’re just gonna wait until CP3 gets here?” asked Dwyane, crawling into the second seat of the boat.
“That’s the plan,” LeBron replied drowsily. The four days of nonstop sun exposure had left him feeling sunburnt and overheated.
“I think he’s pretty set on staying in Houston, though,” Carmelo said from the front of the boat, raising his voice to be heard over Magic’s megaphone-amplified pleas for them to return to land. “We shoulda recruited him earlier.”
“Well, all I know is I’m not taking part in any basketball activities until the banana boat squad is all in LA,” LeBron reiterated. “Yo, you guys want a Gatorade?”