About a month ago, I opened a contest in which P&T friends could submit works of Knicktion to be read, judged, and voted upon by the P&T community. The submissions are in and will be posted daily (sometimes twice daily) for your pleasure. Voting and prizes and stuff will take place once all the entries have been posted. By request, I won't reveal the identities of our submitters until the end (or whenever the authors feel it is appropriate). Well, except for our first submission. Sorry, YuckFou.
A few notes on the pool of submissions as a whole: Some are long, some are short. Some are prose, some are poetry, some are floetry. All were acceptable. None of the submissions have been in any way edited by me (although I'll probably have to play with some formatting), but in some instances, I sent the submission back to its composer for a bit of proofreading. No matter what, please be respectful in the comments. But you knew that.
Take the jump for submission #5.
Knick Potion No. 11
[September 20th, 2011, 7:24 P.M.]
Beads of sweat traced down the face of Mike D'Antoni as he entered into a state of panic. Glen Grunwald stood frozen in shock. Phil Weber stared at the sight before him with revulsion. Dan D'Antoni vomited.
All of these men were staring at the remains of James Dolan scattered on the floor of the Knicks' locker room. And the creature that was responsible for his death.
[August 20th, one month prior...]
On a late summer day, Mike D'Antoni went over new offensive sets in his home office. Ever the perfectionist, he still was not completely pleased with what he had devised for Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in the high post.
The phone rings. The caller ID shows "Dolan, J." "Shit, what the hell does he want now? Just act excited... [forced smile] Hey Jim how are you?
"Mike, no time to talk. Stop everything you're doing and get to Madison Square Garden immediately," Dolan barked into the phone. As soon as the last syllable left his mouth, Dolan was gone. D'Antoni was confused, but not surprised. He received calls like this from Dolan frequently. Last time, Dolan wanted D'Antoni to come over and explain the most recent episode of Entourage.
D'Antoni arrived in NYC with low expectations. He entered the still-being-renovated Madison Square Garden and met Dolan inside the Knicks' locker room. Standing next to Dolan was interim GM Glen Grunwald.
"Alright Jim, I'm here. What's so important?"
A coy smile crept across Dolan's face. "Glen has been working on a top secret player development project for the last few years," Dolan said. "It's actually one of the main reasons he was selected as interim GM. I would like to show the fruits of all his labor."
The three men walked to the trainer's room to find an unconscious Andy Rautins lying face-down on one of the massage tables. D'Antoni was shocked.
"What the hell happened to Andy? And what the hell is he doing here? We can't have any contact with players during the lockout! Are you crazy? I can't be seen here, I need to leave -"
"Relax, Mike," Dolan said reassuringly. "Glen, give Mike an explanation of what you've accomplished here."
"Well, as you know, I became a Canadian citizen in 1999 and have been working in Toronto since 1994.," Grunwald began. "A friend introduced me to some physicians there who were working on some absolutely ground-breaking things in the realm of stem cell research around 2001. I was having some arthritis issues, so I asked them if they could help.
"The stuff they gave me did more than that. I was back working out again and feeling great. I dominated the old-man leagues. These stem cells are good shit! I went back to these physicians and asked them what else stem cells were capable of. They knew I was involved in sports and told me there were some top-secret trials being initiated on sport-specific stem cells. These new treatments wouldn't just improve the subject's physical abilities, but their cognitive abilities in relation to the sport they played. It made them better players, not athletes, which was a breakthrough.
"Obviously I was intrigued. This could be monumental for pro sports if used the right way. Now I was working with the Raptors at the time, but I obviously couldn't risk involving any of those players in the trials. I wanted to see what it could do for some other players first. After a couple years, we realized how well the treatment worked for Steve -"
"Hold the phone," D'Antoni interjected. "Steve Nash? You aren't going to tell me with a straight face that Steve Nash, the player I coached for four seasons, was on some sort of Canadian steroid? I don't know why I am even listening to this garbage right now, Steve would never agree to something like that." He went to leave, but Grunwald spoke up.
"How do you think Steve won those two MVP awards Mike?" Grunwald asked condescendingly. "What, do you think it was your ‘system' that magically turned Nash into that kind of player? No, it was the formula that I had perfected with my physicians. The formula reached its peak impact right around 2004-2005. And Steve didn't agree to any of this. A team abducted him that offseason and gave him rounds of the treatment. He has no idea any of this was performed."
Dolan grinned like an idiot as he listened to Grunwald's increasingly grim tale. D'Antoni had a bewildered expression on his face.
"During my interview with Mr. Dolan, I explained to him that you weren't the problem here, Mike. We all know that you need your Steve Nash to run the point. If you had "Nash", with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, that would be the final piece to the puzzle. I told James the truth behind Steve's greatness and that I could do the same thing in New York." He turned and looked at Rautins, who was twitching and drooling.
"Andy Rautins is your solution?" D'Antoni asked. "Not that I condone any of this or actually believe a word of what you're saying. But of all the players on the roster why would you pick Rautins?"
"Because he's Canadian!" Dolan yelled. "Geez Mike, I thought you were smarter than that!"
"James is right," Grunwald said. "The formula only works on players who are from Canada or are direct descendants of Canadians."
D'Antoni was flustered. How could any of this be real? Glen Grunwald is really a mad scientist wannabe who subjects Canadian players to performance-enhancing tests without their consent? The only thing that didn't shock him was Dolan's acceptance of the whole idea.
"Listen, even if these claims turned out to be true, this all sounds highly illegal," D'Antoni tried to explain. "You see what's happening nowadays in sports with drug testing and steroids. If something like that were to happen in basketball, think of the repercussions."
"Trust me, it's an undetectable supplement. There is no test known to man that would be able to discover any trace of the formula in Andy's system," Grunwald said.
"Well what happens when the media starts to ask why the hell Andy Rautins is playing so well?" D'Antoni asked. "Did you think of that? Steve Nash was actually an All Star before he came to Phoenix. Andy barely played well in mop-up duty last year."
"It's Landry Fields 2.0," Grunwald replied. "Fields started all 82 games as a second-round pick, and people stopped questioning the decision-making after he started producing. The same will be true with Rautins. ‘He just wasn't ready yet' is all you'll have to say." Grunwald seemed to have an answer for everything, and it was making D'Antoni uneasy.
"This just doesn't feel right you guys," he said. "I can't be a part of this organization if you are going to be running experiments like this on my players."
The smile disappeared from Dolan's face. "You listen to me Mike," Dolan said sternly. "This isn't up to you. The decision was already made. The procedure has already been done. And don't even think about getting upset about this. I made this decision with your well being in mind. You can succeed here, but you can't do it without the new and improved Andy. You are going to coach this team, and believe me, this is your last shot. If you can't win with this talent, I cannot help you.
"Now if you don't believe us, just watch what Andy does for Team Canada during the FIBA tournament. You will not be disappointed! And of course, please use some discretion. This is pretty sensitive information."
Mike D'Antoni left MSG confused and slightly afraid.
Phil Weber and Dan D'Antoni were both stunned at how good Andy Rautins looked at the FIBA tournament. He was coming off a 15-point performance that saw him lead Canada to an upset over the Dominican Republic. All 15 of his points were the result of three pointers. They wanted to talk to Mike about what this could mean for the Knicks.
"What do you think has gotten into him?" Weber asked. "He looks great so far!"
"If he keeps this up, Andy could be a big contributor for us next year, don't you think Mike?" Dan D'Antoni asked.
"It's still early in the tournament," D'Antoni responded. "He does look like he's worked on his jumper a little bit, but I need a larger sample size. " D'Antoni thought to himself, "This can't really be happening. I'm driving myself crazy."
Rautins exploded for 18 points in a loss to Puerto Rico, but suffers a broken nose and a minor concussion. Mike D'Antoni was going over all the possibilities in his head of how Rautins could be doing this. Nothing made sense.
"Maybe he's been working with his Dad a lot. I mean Leo is a capable guy, he could have helped Andy with a few things," D'Antoni thought to himself. "Or, maybe there is more to this new formula than I thought. Good God what have I let happen under my tenure?"
Rautins couldn't help lead Canada past Uruguay or Panama, but he nailed four three-pointers in each game. Mike D'Antoni had to tell somebody about this. The weight of this information was driving him crazy. He was re-watching Steve Nash tapes from his MVP seasons. He was learning everything he could about stem cells. He was consuming nothing but meatball subs and ginger ale.
D'Antoni decided he was going to get his staff together in New York and have Dolan tell them this himself. He got on the phone with his brother and with Weber, and they agreed to meet in New York on the 20th.
[September 20th, 6:45 P.M.]
D'Antoni headed to MSG. Dan and Phil were waiting outside, and Mike ushered them in and led them back to the locker room where he had first heard the news.
The three men stopped dead in their tracks when they heard a savage yell coming from the training room. They proceeded cautiously and saw Grunwald staring towards the back of the room.
"Glen? What the hell-" Mike began to ask before he saw the carnage up ahead. James Dolan was torn clean in half. His upper half was scattered on the floor. A 6' 5" monstrosity was chewing his legs. Its skin was turning a light red and coarse hair was thickening everywhere. Its jaw had detached like a snake to make feeding easier. Its muscles were reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Its eyes had turned pitch black.
"WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO ANDY, GLEN?" Mike yelled.
"I... uh... don't know... it must have... um... been the concussion," he replied, in a very shaken tone. "It must have disrupted the stem cell's function and somehow caused a mutation."
"Steve had concussions! This didn't happen to him!" Mike countered.
"You know how good Phoenix's training staff is! Look what they did for Shaq! There's nobody available because of the lockout that could have prevented this," Grunwald responded.
Rautins looked up at the four men standing there and began to charge. Just then, Landry Fields emerged from an adjacent entrance.
"I can fix this!" Fields grabbed Rautins and locked eyes with the beast. He began to return to normal and collapsed to the ground. The healing power of Fields was kicking in.
"Landry, how the hell did you do that? And how did you know we were here?" Mike asked.
"Andy and I have a special connection," Landry said. "It formed while we were speed dating. We can feel each other's pain, and I just got some crazy vibes."
"What happens now?" Grunwald asked.
"First, order of business: let's remove that ‘interim' tag. I mean, you did kill James Dolan!"