The 2034 Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony was proceeding without any hitches. Emotional speeches by the inductees touched the hearts of all those present. Rivalries were set aside in recognition of the on-court dominance that defined all of their careers. Retired stars told jokes at each others’ expense, garnering laughter from the players, spouses, and celebrities in attendance. It was a night of true friendship and celebration.
But far above the stage of the posh concert hall where the ceremony was taking place, a man darker than shadow waited and watched, unmoved by the proceedings.
From his hidden position in the catwalks, Tony Snell observed the ceremony with crawling disgust. While the so-called “superstars” of the era issued moronic acceptance speeches laced with barely-disguised self-congratulation, thinking that their obscenely overinflated PPG totals held any value whatsoever, the true contributors to their teams’ success went unrecognized and forgotten. To watch Blake Griffin stand there and tack a meaningless “and all my teammates over the years” to the end of his overlong thanks list was infuriating.
Tony calmed himself by reminding himself that they would all learn their lesson soon. Very soon.
To distract himself from the intolerable orations coming from below him, he pulled out his laptop to make sure that the wireless link he had established with the holoscreen on the stage was still operative. It was. When the time came, it would be no problem at all to put an immediate stop to the Kyrie Irving highlight video and replace it with something more appropriate.
Next, he checked the system of straps and harnesses that would allow him to safely descend to the stage. He did not want his grand entrance to be ruined by a snagged rope that left him dangling halfway between the floor and the ceiling, and he REALLY didn’t want to arrive to the party by free-falling onto the unyielding wood of the stage.
The harness was secure. His descent would be swift and controlled. Kyrie’s illogical ramblings were crowding his thoughts and filling him with a vague fury; there was no better time than right then to interrupt the ceremony.
Tony hit a key on his laptop, causing the video on the screen to turn to black. Another would soon take its place. Then, using some hasty calculations, but also a lot of intuition, he jumped off the catwalk and swung at an angle directly towards where Kyrie was reminiscing about his Finals game-winner in Cleveland. Right as Kyrie realized that something was wrong, and right as the crowd started gasping and pointing, Tony’s extended feet collided directly with Kyrie’s chest, knocking him away from the microphone and down to the floor.
“Thanks for those wonderful words, Kyrie,” Tony said into the microphone. “But I think we’re all forgetting who the real Hall of Famer is in this room.”
Here he paused for dramatic effect. There was murmuring in the crowd, but nobody had yet tried to get him off the stage.
“Tony Snell, the NBA record holder for most free throws made in a season without a miss.” Just as he said this sentence, a different highlight video was broadcast to the gigantic holographic screen behind him: one with a small “DownToBuck” watermark in the lower-left corner. One that purported to be a “freethrowilation”. One that showed highlights of Tony Snell and Tony Snell only.
“All-Star appearances mean nothing. Scoring titles mean nothing. Championships mean nothing,” Tony intoned. “Wins, losses, the favor of the fans? All of it is meaningless. Only free throws, as the purest representation of basketball skill, hold any meaning.” He took a quick look behind him to ensure the video was still playing and smiled when he saw another one of his own swishes from his legendary 2019-20 season. 32 makes without a miss was a record that would never be matched, much like Wilt’s 100.
“While this would be an opportune time to beg the gatekeepers of the Hall of Fame for my admittance, I will not stoop so low. I want nothing to do with an organization which holds the elite free-throw shooters of the NBA in such low regard.” He found himself having to talk louder to be heard over the increasingly restless crowd. It was probably time to make his final remarks and then a hasty exit.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank nobody but myself,” Tony said. “I couldn’t have done it without me. Remember, the individual will always triumph over the collective, and dependence on others for your success is not strength, but weakness.” Just as he was about to be tackled from behind by an unknown assailant, he activated the jetpack underneath his suit and flew out the back doors of the hall with the knowledge that the name Tony Snell would forever be etched in the timeless annals of NBA legendry.