Willie Cauley-Stein was sitting on his living-room couch engaging in one of his favorite pastimes: browsing basketball-reference on his iPad while stoned. The stats were just so much more interesting, even funny on occasion, when read under the influence of marijuana. It was especially fun to go back to the box-scores of past games he had played in to see how other players had done against him.
“Vucevic only scored eleven that game, I probably locked him down,” Willie giggled to himself. “Oh, Ryno dropped 36 on us in this one, I bet that was Cousins’ fault, he defended like his shoes were full of nacho cheese.”
Refusing to be interrupted from his task by his sudden craving for nachos, Willie continued his perusal. Upon glimpsing the name of former teammate Ben McLemore, it occurred to Willie that he had no idea where Ben had gone after he had left the Kings, or where he was currently. A quick search on the website revealed that Ben had suffered a short stint in Memphis where his stats had been horrible, and that he had been traded back to Sacramento after just a one-year hiatus.
“Being on a losing team for so long must have really screwed up his development,” Willie thought to himself with a frown. “I bet he wasn’t happy when he ended up back with us.”
Now Willie was curious where he stacked up against other recent Kings rookies. With each name he looked up, the more depressed he became. Thomas Robinson, Nik Stauskas, Jimmer Fredette, Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, so many players had started their careers with their franchise only to flame out quickly and either drop out of the league entirely or remain on its outermost fringes. Even guys like Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins were often regarded as “losing players” whose stats didn’t mean much. As the evidence mounted in front of him, Willie could only come to one conclusion:
The Sacramento Kings franchise ruined the career of every young player they touched, and they were currently in the process of ruining his career as well.
He grabbed his phone and called his most commonly-called number: that of his agent, a dude named Roger who wore suits a lot. When the call was answered, he immediately launched into his spiel: “Yo Rodge, you gotta get me off the Kings, man. They’re ruining my development like they did with my man Papa-G. I demand a trade.”
“This is an unexpected change of heart, Willie,” Roger replied. “Are you high right now?”
“Maybe, but the stats are right here, and they’re the same no matter how high I may or may not be,” Willie answered. “And those same stats say that Thomas Robinson was supposed to be a can’t-miss prospect but the Kings destroyed him. Trade me anywhere. I don’t care.”
“I’ll let you think about that one for a little while before we move forward,” Roger answered calmly. “I’ll call you in a couple days when you’ve come down off your weed and basketball-reference binge.”
Willie wanted to argue more, but his agent had hung up, and he knew it would be useless to call again. Instead, he returned to his iPad, a plan forming in his mind.
“I don’t even know why I agreed to this. If you’ll remember, I’m not even on the Kings anymore,” Vince Carter said from the passenger seat of Willie’s car.
“Really? I don’t blame you man, they ruined your career like they’re ruining mine. It happens to vets too.” Following the directions on his phone, he drove up to a gated subdivision. “Vlade lives somewhere in here.” After using his credentials a member of the Sacramento Kings to enter the neighborhood, Willie soon pulled up in front of Vlade Divac’s house.
“So, you just gonna knock on his door and tell him you’re demanding a trade?” Vince asked.
“Even better,” Willie said, walking to the trunk and pulling out a canister of gasoline. “I’ll write it on his lawn.”
“Cool, I always wanted an arson charge,” Vince replied sarcastically, refusing to unbuckle his seatbelt. “I’ll stay here.”
Willie poured the flammable liquid on the grass in what he hoped would look like English letters, then set them ablaze with a lighter. The flames were quickly growing and spreading, so Willie acted fast, throwing a rock at a second-floor window where he could see the light of a TV. When Vlade’s face appeared in the glass and saw the burning lawn, he opened the window and yelled down, “Willie! What the hell are you doing?”
“Demanding a trade!” Willie yelled back, pointing to the flaming letters which read “TRADE ME”.
“I can’t trade you! I don’t know how the CBA works!” Vlade yelled in anguish. “I constantly have to be informed that my transactions are neither feasible nor allowable! Wait! Where are you going?”
Willie, getting back into his car, held up a pair of handcuffs. “Golden One Center! I always wanted to do a hunger strike while handcuffed to something! If you don’t want me to starve to death you’ll have to figure out how to trade me!”
Vince shook his head and dialed 911 as Willie screeched off to his next destination.