Ben Simmons furtively looked over his shoulder as he typed in his YouTube search term, then felt silly for doing so. In the privacy of his apartment, nobody would know what deviant YouTube videos he was seeking out.
After a quick pause of contemplation, Ben appended two words to the end of his search. It now read “Jumpshooting tutorials white guy”. His teammate Joel often reminded him that white people were the best shooters.
Just as he started to watch the first video that came up in the search results, which seemed to show a white guy with a beard shooting jumpshots in a gym, a loose bit of masonry clunked onto Ben’s desk. He looked at his brick wall with distrust; it was cool to live in a converted factory, but when his neighbors upstairs were being particularly active, bits of his wall would fall out.
Before he could even formulate a complaint to his landlord, an entire brick popped free from its mortar and landed directly on his head, knocking him out.
When Ben returned to consciousness and opened his eyes, he immediately sat straight up. Something was very wrong: he was not in his apartment. He was not in Philadelphia. It didn’t even seem like he was on earth. All around the rocky outcropping he was perched on were terrific pillars of flame. From below him came screams of unfathomable torment.
Peering over the rock’s edge into the lake of fire, Ben saw the indistinct forms of writhing bodies being harassed by the infernal flame. Fearful that he would be next in line for the torture, he withdrew back to a sitting position. His thoughts were disordered by the ceaseless wailing, and the only conclusion he could come to was that he had been sent to hell for one or many of his earthly transgressions.
Suddenly, a towering figure appeared above him, its shadowy form glowing ominously from the firelight. “Ben Simmons! Welcome to your eternal damnation!” it bellowed in a voice which echoed off unseen walls.
“No! It’s not my time!” Ben yelled. “I’m not dead yet!” For some reason, he held an inner certainty that the falling brick had not killed him.
The shadowy figure laughed. “Death is not requisite for admission into Jumpshot Hell.”
“Wait. Jumpshot Hell?” Ben asked.
“You didn’t think you were in regular hell, did you?” said the entity who, if he wasn’t Satan, was doing a pretty good job at emulating the Unholy One. “No, this is the place where the unfortunate souls of jumper-less NBA players get sent. If you look closely, you’ll see Shaq and Michael Carter-Williams down there in my pits of flame, among others.”
“Help us, help us!” yelled Shaq’s voice from the inferno below. “I promise I’ll practice my jumpshot!”
“You’ve been saying that for thirty years, now SHUT UP!” The flames licking Shaq’s body must have been made more intense at that moment, because his screams of agony immediately filled the cavern. “Now, as step one of your punishment, Ben, I will list your jumpshot-related misdeeds:
One: Failing to develop a respectable jumpshot after two years in the league. Two: Being unwilling to attempt three-pointers in the flow of the offense. Three: Currently possessing an ugly jumpshot form which brings dishonor to the sacred art of the jumpshot. Four: Pretending to be Mark Price, one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, whose name should never be sullied, in order to coach Markelle Fultz into even worse habits than he already had.”
“I don’t deserve to be here!” came Markelle’s voice from somewhere. “My jumpshot was fine before my injury!” Ben felt a pang of guilt as he remembered the prank he had played on Markelle and wondered if it was part of the reason that Markelle was doomed to the unquenchable fires of Jumpshot Hell for all eternity.
“Any last words before I cast your soul into the flaming chasm of inadequate jumpshooting?” asked the shadow.
Ben had to choose his words carefully. His soul was on the line. Finally, he spoke. “Yeah. I promise that if you free my soul from your clutches, I’ll watch videos of white guys shooting on YouTube and learn from them, just like my friend Joel told me to do.”
This statement caused the dark overlord of Jumpshot Hell to pause. “It’s true, white guys are often the best shooters. I would know, being one of them myself.” The tall, dark figure pulled off his mask to reveal the face of Mark Price. “Do you really promise to use their teachings to rebuild your shooting form?”
“I totally promise. One hundred percent. I’ll even get J.J. Redick to coach me.”
Mark Price nodded once, and then, Ben was whisked away from that realm of flame and suffering.
Ben sat up at his desk, rubbing the painful bump on his head. The video he had been watching was still there. He would watch it, along with YouTube’s other suggestions, and then he would call up his former teammate J.J. He knew that if he didn’t, another trip to Jumpshot Hell was in his future, and the next time, escape wouldn’t be so easy.