59 Return

*Sound Effects*




(Point of View)

| Setting |


(1st Person - Javi)

I made my way across the court toward the bench just as the game concluded, heading over to the West's bench while the East team celebrated.

It had been an incredible game, witnessing Kobe and T-Mac on the same team, and supporting Duncan and Tony who played in the game. Despite our team's strong start, we faltered after the 2nd quarter, allowing the East to mount a comeback.

Despite my disappointment over the West's loss, I could see that most of the players remained in good spirits, smiling and laughing.

However, Tony seemed slightly disheartened, understandable since he came off the bench and only scored 8 points overall. And Kobe, though he tried to conceal it, appeared visibly frustrated. I approached him jokingly.

However, the person that looked the most pissed off even though he tried to hide it was Kobe himself. I walked over jokingly and said

"I can tell you're mad," I remarked as he glanced toward me and managed a smile.

"Damn right I'm not mad. We should've taken that one," he replied. I knew he likely bore much of the weight of the loss, especially considering the critical turnover he made with the game on the line.

Trying to lighten the mood, I quipped, "It's all good, I'll be here next year."

He nodded his head with a smile. "Nice suit," he remarked, gesturing toward my black suit.

"Yea, some of the vet's told me I needed em," I replied

"They were right," he said with a smirk.


(3rd Person)

The day after the All-Star game, Tony, Timmy, and I boarded a private plane back to San Antonio from Houston. After the hour-long flight, we were met by a team-provided car. Tony took the driver's seat, Timmy claimed shotgun, and I settled in the back behind Tony, with Timmy stretching his seat as far back as it would go.

As we arrived at the practice facility, we expected to be greeted, but the building was oddly silent. We exchanged confused looks, and I decided to take the lead, heading toward the gymnasium, thinking the team might already be practicing. But upon reaching the gym, I found it dark and empty. Sensing something was amiss, I hesitated to enter first, and Timmy, sharing my suspicion, sighed and stepped forward.

As Timmy entered, the lights flicked on, and we were met with a flurry of confetti and cheers. Silly string flew, and soon, I found myself in a playful chase, dodging Brent and Manu as they covered me in the sticky spray.

I couldn't stop laughing as I quickly got covered by it despite my best efforts at dodging.

"Alright, you got me! Stop!" I laughed, surrendering to their antics.

Returning to the gym, I was greeted with congratulations and praises for winning the MVP.

"Good job winning the MVP!" Brent exclaimed along with Manu.

"Was it fun?" asked Manu.

"Thanks, yeah, it was better than I expected," I replied sincerely.

Back at the door, the team laughed at my silly string-covered appearance. I greeted Pop and R.C., expressing gratitude for the opportunity they'd given me, despite my initial skepticism.

After more congratulations and individual greetings, the team unveiled an All-Star-themed cake to celebrate. Though not a fan of overly sweet icing, I indulged in the festivities.

With the option to head home until the team dinner later, I drove back, eager to reunite with my family. 


**Welcome back!** my mom exclaimed, enveloping me in a hug.

**How was it?** she asked eagerly.

**It was amazing,** I replied with a smile. Soon after, my brothers rushed over, thrilled to see me.

"Check this out," Marky said, leading me to his room. I followed and stood by his side as he sat in his chair, eager to show me what he'd been up to.

He demonstrated how he played games, recorded his gameplay, and edited the videos. Impressed, I offered words of encouragement, having seen some of his content and recognizing its appeal.

"Just stay consistent, you never know what can happen," I advised. He nodded in understanding and thanked me for the support.

Returning to my room, I settled in until it was time for the team dinner later. They hadn't disclosed the venue, but I assumed it would offer good food.

Reflecting on my newfound culinary skill, I hoped I had made the right choice. There were many great options to pick.

'At least, I should be able to get more opportunities for skills in the future' I thought

Hours passed by until I was eventually told the location and time. We were going to a Brazilian steakhouse buffet. I decided to put on one of my suits; I had worn a black suit for the All-Star game and a blue one for the slam dunk contest. This time, I chose a gray suit as I headed towards the steakhouse.

I arrived slightly early, knowing Pop's punctuality mantra: "If you're not early, you're late."

As I entered, I spotted Pop and the owner, Peter Holt, who was wearing a black suit with a black tie adorned with white dots. He was an older man with a stern gaze, but he smiled as I approached.

I gave him a firm handshake. "Hell of a game Friday," he remarked as we shook hands.

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate it," I replied respectfully, then greeted Pop in my usual manner, waiting for the others to arrive. It seemed I was the first, a rare occurrence.

A few minutes later, Bruce arrived, along with Rasho and Fabricio. They greeted the owner and sat down next to me.

"Looking good," Bruce smirked.

I laughed; it was clear he was complimenting my suit choice, which he had helped pick out.

"Your wife not coming?" I asked him.

"No, she's watching the kids," he replied, and I nodded understandingly.

Soon after, Timmy arrived with his wife, Amy.

Moments later, Tony and his wife, Eva, entered, closely followed by Brent and his wife, Erin.

'Damn, I feel lonely,' I thought, seeing all these couples arrive.

'Maybe I should start looking' I thought thinking about finding somebody.

Everyone had arrived, but we were still waiting on Manu.

He eventually arrived, slightly late, along with his wife, Marianela.

I chuckled seeing Manu's interaction with Pop, who gave him a death stare.

"Classic Manu," I remarked as he approached. He smiled and joked, "It was traffic." His wife playfully hit his arm and said, "I told him we had to leave, but he didn't listen to me."

Once everyone was present, we were seated, and the waiter went over the buffet instructions.

After the waiter left to get our drinks and appetizers, the owner cleared his throat and gave a speech.

"I just wanted to thank you all for your hard work. Not just this year, but every year. We wouldn't have made it as far as we have based solely on one person's efforts. By working as a team, we've achieved this success, from the staff and management to the players; everyone has played their part," he stated.

"So, I want to thank you all for your hard work. Pop," he began, turning to Coach Pop.

"I want to thank you for leading the helm of this team. Timmy," he continued.

"I want to thank you for leading the team on and off the court. Your example has helped create a culture of egoless basketball," he stated.

He continued, thanking each player from the benchwarmers to the starters.

"Manu, even though you're late most of the time, you've been an amazing X factor for us in every game," he acknowledged before turning to me.

"And lastly, but not least, the Rookie who has shown tremendous growth and guts. Javi, thank you for being part of our team and absorbing all that Pop has taught you," he concluded.

I thanked him, and just as the food arrived, the team began to dig in.

I couldn't help but be grateful for being apart of this organization.


A/N: Hope you enjoyed the story so far! We're approaching the playoff arc soon! Let me know how you'd like to see the playoffs pacing to be!

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