Montrezl Harrell sat at the dinner party hosted by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and tried to focus on making a good impression for new teammates Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. That meant taking dainty bites of the lasagna and chewing them to completion before taking another, rather than scarfing down the entire plate in a matter of minutes. That meant pretending that his “sensible” choice of water as a beverage was what he legitimately preferred (it wasn’t). That meant ignoring the plan that was forming in his mind and instead focusing on the conversation going on around him.
As far as Montrezl could tell, his efforts to stay on his best behavior were working; he was already joking around with Paul, and Kawhi could sometimes be seen with a small smile form on his lips. Steve himself was getting more rambunctious in his optimism for the upcoming season as his wine glass kept getting refilled by the waiter he had hired for the occasion.
“Let’s toast to a championship!” Steve slur-yelled, holding up his glass for the third such toast in the past fifteen minutes. Montrezl whooped with the rest of the team as he clinked glasses with everybody that was within reach, but all he could think about was how Steve was quickly becoming too inebriated to be coherent. That was a problem because Montrezl had been hoping to discuss contract matters after the party had broken up. Specifically, he wanted to bring up how six million dollars was an insulting underpay for a player of his caliber. Now, with Steve passing the “amicable drunkenness” stage and heading rapidly towards the “blackout” stage, such a conversation would be unproductive at best or impossible at worst.
The personal chef had arrived at the table to tell them about the dessert he had made, a tall and fancy-looking chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream precariously perched on top. While everybody made jokes about their trainers giving them hell for eating such a decadent treat, Montrezl’s money-related thoughts had gone one step further: since Steve was worth fifty billion dollars, he probably had millions of dollars just lying around in his house. Dollars that he wouldn’t miss at all if they happened to go missing. Montrezl was wealthy enough to not care if he misplaced a hundred-dollar bill, so Steve was probably the same way with million-dollar bills.
After the cake had been consumed, it was clear to all that Steve had lost his ability to be a cognizant host, and players began saying their goodbyes. Montrezl recognized his chance and asked Steve where the bathroom was. Steve pointed vaguely towards the stairs before turning back to Kawhi and loudly explaining how his vision for the new Clippers arena included a mini-donuts stand in every section. Montrezl ascended the stairs and found a bathroom at the end of the hall; when he entered it, he was happy to see that there was a walk-in linen closet attached. Since none of the other guests, or Steve, would have a need to replace any bed sheets or tablecloths, Montrezl could hide in there until everybody was gone and Steve was asleep. Then, Montrezl would scour the house for cash.
Settling in for the long haul, Montrezl turned off the lights, then made a comfy nest out of towels and sheets that he could quickly hide under if somebody made a surprise entry. He got out his phone and started playing one of his many gem-matching games, being very careful to have the volume muted.
Three hours later, Montrezl had beaten level 999 of Fruity Jewels Match Saga II, and he figured it was safe to emerge from his hiding place. When he quietly exited the bathroom, there were still lights on in the dining room, but there were no sounds of conversation. That was perfect; it would be a lot easier to look under the furniture for hidden wads of money if the lights were on.
However, when Montrezl stepped lightly past the dining room, he noticed that Steve was still there. He was slumped forward onto the table with his head in his arms. Montrezl assumed he was asleep or passed out until he let out a small sob. Montrezl then noticed that the Clippers owner’s shoulders were shaking.
“Steve…Steve? You okay man?”
Steve looked up in surprise, saw Montrezl standing there, and burst into tears. “Trez! It’s you!”
“It’s me,” Montrezl confirmed.
“You’re the heart of this team, man!” Steve wailed drunkenly, swaying in his seat. “But we’re not paying you enough and I feel so…I feel so GUILTY!”
“You could just write me a check for ten million dollars and you wouldn’t feel guilty anymore,” Montrezl suggested.
Steve sniffled. “Yeah…good idea…” He reached into his pocket for his checkbook and began making out the check. “You’re the best, Trez.” As soon as his signature was on the check, he passed out.
Montrezl patted the bald man on the top of the head. “Thanks Steve.”