John Collins chewed thoughtfully as he relaxed at his locker. They had just lost a game to the Heat, but at least they were in the middle of a homestand, so he could go back home and sleep in his own bed rather than get crammed into a plane with a bunch of teammates who were all pissed off about losing. First, though, he wanted to unwind for a bit and chow down on food from the media room. One of the cleaning ladies always brought him the leftovers, and nothing was tastier than a cold postgame hot dog like the one he was presently munching on. A chocolate-frosted brownie on a little paper plate sat at his feet, waiting its turn to be consumed.
John’s reverie was disturbed by the locker room door suddenly banging open. Thinking that it was coach Pierce storming in to scold them for their poor play that night, he sat up straight and tried to arrange his face to look properly contrite. However, it was not Lloyd Pierce standing at the door.
It was Adam Silver. Accompanied by two official-looking dudes in suits. And they were walking right towards him.
The few remaining teammates in the locker room subconsciously backed away from the commissioner. He was supposed to be a fair and reasonable guy, but he seemed like he was on the warpath, and nobody wanted to risk doing the wrong thing and getting slapped with sanctions for no reason.
Meanwhile, John had an inkling of what this surprise visit from Silver was about. But he had to play it cool.
“You know why we’re here, Mr. Collins,” Adam said. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement.
“Yeah, I do,” John replied. “But don’t you think it’s too early to re-invite me to the dunk contest?”
This attempt at humor did not go over well. Adam’s eyes narrowed behind his glasses. “We don’t normally invite steroid users to the dunk contest.”
So there it was. They were on to him and his PED usage. But how much did they actually know? John had been very discreet about his illicit habits. He figured he could bluff his way out. “You want to know who in this room is juicing?” he asked rhetorically, before pointing at Trae Young, who was just putting on a jacket and preparing to leave. “Trae is for sure.”
“We’re not here to talk about Trae. We’re here to talk about you,” Adam said.
“Dude, look at his head!” John exclaimed. “You’re telling me that he wouldn’t want to take steroids to fix those bald patches? You can totally see his scalp. The Norwood Reaper got him bad and he knows it.”
Trae did not look pleased at having his name brought into the conversation. He left without saying another word. John was hopefully that one of Adam’s henchmen would try to tackle Trae as he walked out, providing a diversion by which he could escape, but nothing like that happened.
“Vince too,” John said, starting to feel desperate. “He’s roided out like Carrot Top going out for the Russian Olympic racewalking team. How could somebody so old still be so mobile? Steroids. That’s how.”
Adam didn’t even bother looking in Vince Carter’s direction. “Show him the pictures,” he said to the man standing to his left. The man withdrew a packet of Polaroids from his breast pocket and ripped off the rubber band. He took the top picture off the pile and wordlessly held it in front of John’s face.
“I don’t know who that guy is,” John said as he looked at the picture of himself standing in his own bathroom with at least twenty hypodermic needles jammed into his buttocks at various angles. “Kinda looks like Trae though. Judging by, you know, the…shape of the ass cheeks and stuff.”
The next photo was a frontal shot which clearly showed John’s face grimacing in pain as a hand that was not his own seemed to be jamming something up…well, exactly where the hand was jamming wasn’t important.
“Steroids delivered anally via a HGH-cream-covered tampon, that’s a new one to me,” Adam said. “Do you have anything to say about that, Mr. Collins?”
“It wasn’t a tampon,” John answered reflexively before realizing his mistake. “I mean, if that was me, which it isn’t, I wouldn’t use a tampon in that way. That’s sick. I’m insulted at your insinuations.”
Adam now addressed the man to his right. “Check his bag.”
John tried to grab for his duffel bag but was too slow. Its contents were dumped on the ground, revealing unlabeled bottles of pills and a large collection of needles. “That’s my insulin, and now that I don’t have it, I’m going to die, so thanks a lot,” he said. “Uh oh, I’m slipping into a diabetic coma now.” He slumped his seat, pretending to faint.
“25-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy,” Adam announced. Then he gestured to the large pile of steroids that was on the floor. “I’ll take these for myself. My physique has always left a little bit to be desired. And who’s gonna test me? The NBA?” He laughed at his own joke. “Don’t forget, Mr. Collins. We’re always watching.”