53 Shopping

*Sound Effects*

**Language**

'Thoughts'

"Dialogue"

(Point of View)

| Setting |

[System]

| Location: Oakland Arena, San Francisco, California|

| Date: Tuesday February 2, 2006 11:55pm |

(1st person - Javi) 

Toweling off after a refreshing shower, I tossed on my clothes and strolled over to my locker, greeted by a chorus of "good games" and enthusiastic high-fives from various staff members. Settling onto my chair, a grin spread across my face as I realized I had finally unlocked 'Pippen's Defensive Instincts'. Glancing at my stats, I couldn't help but feel a surge of pride before closing the window.

[Finishing: 86 -> 87]

[Shooting: 85 -> 86]

[Playmaking: 85 -> 86]

[Defense: 80 -> 90]

[Physical: 91]

[Overall: 85 -> 88]

The skill greatly increased my Defensive, increasing Interior Defense and Perimeter Defense and Steal by 10 each.

"Good shit Jav" Finley said, offering me a congratulatory dap. His appreciation was evident; he knew I had a knack for drawing attention away from him while ensuring he got the ball in the sweet spots for his shots.

"You know I gotchu," I replied, returning his smile.

"Yo Jav, you ready for the all-star game?" Bruce's voice broke in.

Grinning, I shot back, "Of course, what do you take me for?" The camaraderie in the locker room was infectious, adding to the anticipation of the upcoming event.

Brent sauntered in, a mischievous glint in his eye as he addressed me while rummaging through his locker. "Javi, tomorrow, you, me, and Bruce are hitting the shops. I can't let you keep dressing like that with a clear conscience," he teased, a playful smile playing on his lips.

Laughter erupted from the other guys as I glanced down at my Spurs merch, feigning innocence. "What? It's not that bad... right?" I ventured, hoping for some reassurance.

A heavy silence fell, punctuated only by a few stifled chuckles.

"It's pretty bad," Manu deadpanned, his nonchalant shrug adding to the verdict.

'Damn.' I couldn't help but internally cringe. I guess my fashion sense wasn't exactly up to par, but then again, I hadn't exactly had a plethora of clothing options even before my NBA days.

"How are we going shopping anyway? Won't we just cause a scene?" I asked, genuinely perplexed.

Brent shot me a knowing look before explaining, "Forget where we are? We're in Cali, man. Celebrities are a dime a dozen here. Trust me, it won't be anything out of the ordinary. Besides, we're only big names back in Texas. Here, you might just blend right in."

"Alright... if you say so," I conceded with a sigh, mentally preparing myself for a fashion intervention.

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| Location: Pacific Renaissance Plaza, San Francisco, California|

| Date: Wednesday February 3, 2006 1:08 pm |

 (1st Person - Javi)

"Come on, let's start over here," Brent directed, leading me and Bruce into what appeared to be a suit store.

"Do I really need to wear suits? Can't I just rock a nice polo?" I questioned.

"Nope, you're in the NBA now... which means you're a professional. I'm sure you've noticed most folks sporting suits when they're not on the court, even Kobe," Brent explained.

"Yeah, though you haven't had to worry about that since you haven't missed a game yet," Bruce chimed in with a smirk.

'True, I guess comfort is taking a backseat now,' I mused internally.

As we stepped inside, a team of tailors awaited us. It felt like we spent ages in that store as the male tailor meticulously took my measurements. Once done, Bruce and Brent helped me select an array of suits, belts, ties, and dress shoes.

After trying on a few suits, I actually was surprised at how comfortable the clothes were, I had always thought that suits would be extremely uncomfortable just by looking at them.

"Remember, shoes must match the belt," Brent reminded me, his tone both instructional and encouraging.

I nodded, attempting to commit his advice to memory.

I couldn't help but be grateful for everyone on the team, they really played a significant role in my growth in this fast-paced league.

As we approached the counter to settle the bill, I watched in disbelief as the total climbed higher and higher.

'$1,000... $2,000... $10,000... $20,000...,' I nearly had a heart attack. The most I had spent on clothes was probably a couple hundred dollars if that. 

"Holy...," I began, faltering at the price.

"Don't worry, you'll need these. Trust me," Brent reassured me. With a resigned sigh, I swiped my card, feeling a hint of nervousness despite knowing I had the funds. It was the most I had ever spent just shopping, and the anxiety of a possible declined card lingered in the back of my mind.

With relief, I watched the transaction go through and collected my purchases, exhaling softly.

Surprisingly, the guys weren't finished yet; they dragged me along to some jewelry stores to pick out gifts for their wives.

I also was able to stop at a hat shop as I picked out a couple caps that I found cool. I had grown fond of hats ever since I had gotten pranked by my team and needed to wear the buck-ee's cap.

Soon after we decided to get some food and headed toward the food court.

As we headed to the food court for a quick bite before leaving, I couldn't resist striking up a conversation.

"Hey Brent, how did you and Erin meet?" I inquired.

He then went on to recount that they had met while Erin was a student at an all-girls Catholic school here in San Francisco while Barry was at an all-boys school nearby. He mentioned that they had met one day as they both headed to their schools and eventually began to get to know each other and had been together ever since high school.

"Wow, you're blessed. I wish I had met someone in high school. I can't help but regret spending all my time on basketball," I confessed, a tinge of wistfulness in my voice.

"Don't worry, Jav. You'll find someone before you know it," Bruce and Brent chimed in supportively.

Bruce interjected with a cautionary note, though. "My advice? Steer clear of doctors, nurses, or anyone in the medical field," he warned, taking a bite of his Chinese food.

Brent nodded in agreement, as if Bruce had dispensed some sage wisdom.

"Why?" I asked, genuinely curious.

"Trust me, they usually end up cheating with coworkers they 'trauma bond' with," Bruce explained solemnly.

"He's right. I've seen it happen too many times. NBA players get involved with medical professionals, and it almost always ends in heartbreak," Brent added, his tone tinged with sadness.

"Damn," I muttered, resolving to heed their advice and steer clear of anyone in the medical field.

"Are there any other types of people I should avoid?" I ventured, eager to avoid the pitfalls others had experienced.

"Hmm..." Brent pondered, before offering more pearls of wisdom. "It's not always true, but be cautious when dating celebrities. If things go south, your breakup becomes public," he cautioned between bites.

"Also, make sure you know their values before getting serious, it's pretty common for some celebrities to not want to have kids, fearing it will derail their careers," he stated.

I nodded thoughtfully, absorbing the valuable insights they offered.

'So, no doctors or nurses, but maybe celebrities,' I mused, mentally bookmarking their advice.

As I savored my orange chicken, I raised another question. "What are your thoughts on dating regular, non-famous people?" I queried.

Bruce exchanged a glance with Brent before sighing and offering a sobering perspective.

"It's tough. When you're famous and wealthy, everyone knows. So, it's hard to tell if they're genuinely interested in you or just after your money," he explained, his tone tinged with regret.

"I once knew a guy who dated a girl for two years. No red flags or anything, so he married her without a prenup," Bruce continued, his expression grim.

"After they tied the knot, she showed her true colors and ended up taking half of everything in the divorce—house, kids, pets, you name it," he concluded.

"Damn," I murmured, a frown creasing my brow.

"What's a prenup?" I asked, realizing I was unfamiliar with the term.

This time, Brent stepped in to clarify. "It's like a legal document that outlines the assets of each spouse. It's common for athletes and wealthy individuals to use them, especially if they marry after achieving success," he elucidated.

"Did you and Erin sign one?" I directed the question at Brent.

He shook his head. "No, I didn't see the need for it. At the time, I didn't have much anyway. Plus, Erin has been with me through thick and thin. She deserves that much," he replied, a fond smile lighting up his features.

Just as our conversation lulled, I heard a voice behind me. Turning, I saw a young boy accompanied by his father.

"Are you Speedy?" the boy asked, his eyes wide with excitement.

I grinned and nodded. The boy looked at me hesitantly but gained courage after getting some encouragement from his father.

"Could you please sign this for me?" he asked, holding out a jersey.

Reaching into my pocket, I retrieved a marker from my system. I had began to use this method more frequently after getting it from a pack. Using my pocket to hide anything that would raise suspicion from a marker suddenly appearing out of thin air.

After signing, I obliged the eager fan with a photo. I couldn't help but smile as I got ready to sit back down, feeling happy that I could make a young kids day.

However, just as I was about to sit down, I could see other people around the mall begin to look in our direction and head over.

"No commotion, right?" I quipped sarcastically to Brent, who simply shrugged and chuckled, with Bruce joining in on the laughter.

 

 

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A/N: Hope you enjoyed the story! I really wanted to emphasize the growth that young athletes experience through the wisdom given from vet's on teams. I also want to highlight the naive nature of Javier, and how he grows as a person and as he himself becomes more wise.

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