Kevin Durant sat happily on the bench. The Thunder were up 16 in the fourth against an offensively-challenged Grizzlies squad. His smile soon turned to a grimace, however, as Mike Miller scored 6 quick points.
“What’s wrong man, you had some bad McNuggets?” Andre Roberson asked concernedly.
“No man, it’s Mike Miller. I thought he was done. But he’s scored six already and we’re not even three minutes in. He’s come back for me, Andre. He wants to destroy me again, like he did in the Finals…” Durant sat down and put his head between his knees, which were shaking uncontrollably. Visions danced in his mind of Miller splashing three after three as he eliminated the Thunder from the finals.
“Yo, pull yourself together. It’s just some washed up old shooter. He’ll cool off. Now get ready, it looks like coach is gonna put you in.”
“I can’t go. I gotta tell him I can’t go. Andre, cover for me. Tell him I, uh, tweaked my knee. Yeah, my knee. I gotta get out of here.” Durant stood up, but instead of going to the locker rooms, he walked to the scorer’s table to be checked in, his pale face accentuated by the harsh arena lighting.
He returned to the bench five minutes later, paler than ever.
“Hey, looking good out there. You’re fine, you’re fine.”
It’s no use, Andre, it’s over. It’s over. Mike Miller can’t be stopped. 14 points? Is that what he has? It might as well be 40. I can’t beat him, Andre. I can’t. He’s not happy with just taking a championship away from he. He wants my very soul!”
“Kevin, calm down, you’re talking like a crazy person right now. You gonna let some ancient whiteboy relic get into your head like that? The MVP favorite, collapsing in the face of adversity? Forget about the past, man. It’s long gone. Worry about the now. We’re still up six. You can do this. Show him who’s boss!”
Durant didn’t respond. When the timeout was over, he wordlessly arose and returned to the game.
The buzzer sounded. Mike Miller had been held scoreless until some garbage time buckets brought his total to 19. Durant had put the game away with some clutch jumpers. Miller walked over to Durant.
“Hey, great game tonight, you really did a number on us!”
“Thanks Mike. You certainly put the fear in our hearts though! 19 in the quarter, damn, how do we get you on our team?”
“Haha, my ring-chasing days are over. I’m satisfied with my accomplishments. I did some good stuff with the Heat. Remember when I dropped 7 threes on you to win the championship?”
Durant froze. His vision began to swim and the arena began to fade away, to be replaced by those dreadful visions and the familiar feeling of powerlessness. He did, indeed, remember. But this time the sensations didn’t linger, and he felt the weight of former trials lifted from him. He smiled broadly.
“Yeah, I remember. That was some great shooting! Haha. See you around man.”