Since learning of the free-agency curse which afflicted the Dallas Mavericks, due to the construction of the American Airlines Center defiling a 1600’s-era Catholic missionary, Dirk Nowitzki found that he could no longer sleep. His nights were restless, his days, groggy. Thoughts of the Mavericks’ free-agency failings persisted through any attempts to banish them, and every time he closed his eyes, he could see the ghost of the Spanish explorer Vasco de Bastidas chasing him through the fire-lined corridors of a ruined missionary.
Prior to this revelation, Dirk had been content with his single championship ring. Now, however, he was burdened by all the rings that he had not won, rings that might have had a place on his own hand were it not for his team’s perpetual inability to attract big-name talent. What if he had played with a truly elite point guard in both their primes? What if he had played with a dominant post-up center that made the Mavericks into a devastating inside-outside team? What if he had played with an All-Star wing not named Josh Howard? All these what-ifs tormented Dirk unceasingly.
Finally, he could withstand no more. He would meet with team owner Mark Cuban, not to discuss a contract, not even to discuss possible transactions, but to propose the construction of a new arena. It was the only way he could think of to dispel the curse.
Dirk entered Mark’s office and immediately noticed something was amiss. All the lights were off; the curtains, drawn. To replace the absent illumination from the overhead fluorescents, Mark had lit candles and placed them in groups of three all around the room.
“Oh, Dirk. You’re here,” came Mark’s voice out from the dark. The Mavericks owner then stepped out from the shadows, but he wore a hooded cloak, trimmed with blood red silk, that obscured his face. “Is this about Harrison Barnes?”
“No,” Dirk answered quickly, before reconsidering the question. “Actually, yes. Sort of.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” Mark replied wearily. “You wish to discuss the free-agency curse which plagues the franchise that we both love.”
“How did you know?” Dirk asked, feeling surprised. He thought that he was the only one who knew of the arena’s terrible secret.
Mark seemed to be trembling slightly. “I felt it. I felt him. I felt the spirit of de Bastidas leave this place.”
“He’s gone, but the curse remains,” Dirk said firmly, ignoring for now the question of whether anybody else within the team knew about the free-agency curse. “We have to move the arena, Mark. It’s the only way.”
“No. It’s not the only way,” Mark replied quietly. “There is another way to lift the curse.”
Dirk’s heart lifted, then sank again. Mark sounded very sad for some reason. “What other way could there be?” Dirk asked.
Mark shuffled a bit. The movement of his robe caused the red silk to flash menacingly in the candlelight. “You have to understand, Dirk, the curse was never placed upon the Dallas Mavericks. It was placed upon me.”
Mind reeling, Dirk could only managed a choked, “How?”
“Simple. I chose the site and I authorized the construction of the arena. Thanks to my hubris, I can never attract any decent players to complement my superstar German forward.”
“So you’re going to resign?” Dirk asked.
Mark had found what he was looking for. From behind his desk he withdrew a long, curved sword very similar to the sword that Vasco de Bastidas had been holding when Dirk had met him.
“No, Cubes, stop, you don’t need to do this,” Dirk pleaded, accurately reading what Mark’s intentions were. He stepped towards Mark, thinking vaguely of taking the blade away, but was stopped when the blade was weakly pointed at him. “With us lobbying together, we can get a new arena no problem. Dallas loves us.”
“No, Dirk. You don’t understand. The curse resides with me. I could buy the Los Angeles Lakers this very minute, but I will forever be unlucky in luring free agents.” He shrugged off his robe, revealing a naked body underneath. “I love you guys. All you guys. I want nothing more than for you to succeed. And if that means that I can’t be around to see it, then that is the fate I must accept.”
Dirk could do nothing to stop it: Mark turned the blade towards himself, and, with no change in facial expression, drove it straight through his chest.
“NO!” Dirk shouted, bustling to where the Mavericks owner had collapsed to the floor. He cradled the man’s head in his arms, grieving, when there was a ringing sound from Mark’s desk.
“My phone…” Mark murmured, blood burbling from the sides of his mouth. “Read the text.”
Dirk easily found the lit-up phone and picked it up. “It’s from LeBron James,” he stammered in disbelief. “He says, ‘Yo Cubes. I wanna take my talents to north Texas.'”
Mark’s bloodied mouth curled into a smile. “It worked. The curse is lifted.” Then, his breathing slowed, his eyes closed, and he was dead.
The phone received another text.