“Hey Devin, we got a big problem here,” Josh Jackson said into his phone, trying not to panic.
Devin Booker, answering the call on the other end, paused for a second before replying. “Okay, first, I don’t know where ‘here’ is, second, what the heck even are you talking about?”
Josh felt like he was going to throw up. “I can’t dunk anymore, dude. Help me.” When Devin laughed instead of offering real advice, he became angry. “This is serious, man! I’m broken. I just tried to dunk it but I could barely jump and the ball just kind of fell out of my hand.” Giving this account of his failure only caused his despair to deepen. “Please. Help me.”
“Okay, okay, fine,” Devin replied, having managed to reduce his laughter to mere giggles. “Where are you?”
“The practice facility. And if you laugh at my condition to my face, your face is the one that’s going to get punched.”
Josh hardly noticed that somebody had walked into the gym. He was huddled in the very corner of the large space, his knees drawn up to his chest and his eyes closed. He knew that he had been afflicted with some kind of situational loss of motor function and that his career was effectively over. These fatalistic thoughts replayed over and over in his mind, making it hard to continue to be involved in the outside world.
“You got a haircut,” interrupted Devin’s voice.
Running his hand absentmindedly over his freshly-short locks, he answered “Yeah, I guess,” before resuming his private misery. However, Devin had other plans for him.
“Come on, man, get up,” Devin said, tugging on Josh’s forearm to get him to stand. “I gotta see this for myself.”
Josh reluctantly got to his feet and retrieved the basketball that had rolled away after his most recent failed dunk attempt. Then, he lined himself up for a dunk, knowing full well what would happen. He took his approach as normal, but when it came time to jump, his legs gave out, and he fell sprawling to the court. The ball rolled harmlessly away. Lying there, Josh felt like crying.
Devin appeared over him. “Maybe you’re like Sampson and you lost your dunking power when you cut off your lumpy misshapen semi-afro.”
Josh blinked once. Twice. “I bet that’s it.” The idea that his inability to dunk might be tied to something so simple was reassuring to him. However, another problem soon occurred to him. “Hair takes a long time to grow back though. By the time I have a fro again, I’ll be out of the league.”
Devin again pulled on his teammate to force him to his feet. “I got an idea.”
“I don’t know about this, man,” Josh said uneasily as he stood in front of the locker room mirror at the Suns’ practice facility. “It looks more like a turban than anything.” He poked the wrapped mass of toilet paper, which caused part of it to unravel.
Devin took out a black marker. “Yeah, but when I color it black it will totally look like how your hair used to look. Then your subconscious mind will think you have hair again.”
Ten minutes later, most of the white toilet paper had been colored over with black, creating the impression that Josh was wearing a sloppy black turban. Josh wasn’t optimistic as he stepped back onto the court, basketball in hand, but really wanted Devin’s pseudo-psychological theory to be proven true. So he ran to the basket and jumped.
Except he didn’t really jump. Again, his feet barely left the floor and he tumbled forward, completely failing to complete anything resembling a “dunk”. The toilet paper wrapping on his head came unwrapped and trailed behind him as he fell. “It didn’t work!” he wailed once he landed.
“I see that,” Devin said. “It was nice being your teammate.”
“NOOOOOOOO!” Josh yelled. It was bad enough to have private doubts about one’s own viability as an NBA player, but hearing it from a teammate was ten times worse. “There’s gotta be another way to get hair. Maybe I should call LeBron. He knows what it’s like to lose hair and get it back again. Do you have his number?”
Devin scrolled through the list of contacts on his phone. “No.”
“If only there was somewhere to just get a large quantity of my own natural hair to put back onto my head,” Josh mused. “Wait. I have an idea. I’ll be right back.” And he ran into the locker room.
“How’s it look?”
Devin raised his eyebrows at his teammate’s new hairdo. “I guess…it looks like hair?”
“That’s because it IS hair,” Josh replied proudly, patting the small tuft of hairs that was affixed to the very top of his head. “I’ll be able to dunk again for sure.”
“Do I want to know where that hair came from?”
Josh looked down at his crotch, then back up. “Probably not. Anyway, toss me that ball, I have a feeling this is gonna work. Maybe I won’t have to retire just yet.” He caught the ball that was thrown to him, ran, and easily converted a one-handed tomahawk. After doing a little dance, he walked back to Devin, pointing at the top of his head. “Just as I suspected. Hey, maybe you should try this too!”
“I don’t think so.”