[Photo credit: the incomparable Jason Gallagher, @jga41agher]
Devin Harris roamed the wide savannah of Atlanta with his friends Timon and Pumba, dribbling basketballs and occasionally farting. It had been many years since he'd left the Dallas Mavericks, after accidentally locking Dirk in a zoo exhibit with a number of wildebeest. It was his fault when Dirk stepped in wildebeest poop, ruining a pair of fancy Italian leather shoes. Avery Johnson had told him that Dirk totally hated him. He'd run away, never to return.
Since then, in an effort to mend his shattered psyche, he'd adopted a relaxed, carefree lifestyle, shooting 3-4 three-pointers a game, eating bugs and maintaining an adequate but not impressive assist-to-turnover ratio. At night, the three slept under the stars, trying not to think about the past and to avoid being arrested for vagrancy. The years had been good to Devin. The boy was gone. He'd become a grown man. A grown man who hung out with a warthog and a meerkat, which was totally normal.
"Hakuna matata, that's what we always say, right guys?" Devin said. "Haha. We sure do have fun together." The warthog grunted, since it was a warthog and didn't have the power of speech. But if it did, perhaps it would have said "we love you, Devin. We'll keep you safe." Or possibly, "where am I? Did you like, kidnap zoo exhibits to be your friends? Pretty weird, man." The meerkat scratched in the dirt for more bugs.
All of a sudden the music started. "Cannnnn you feellll the loveeeee tonighttttt."
It was Devin's ring tone. He picked up, and then nearly dropped it. It was Dirk.
"Devin, the team's thinking about bringing you back next season! Coach asked if I'd give you a call and see if you'd be interested."
"Dirk! So good to hear from you, man. After the wildebeest incident, I thought I was dead to you."
"The wildebeest incident? Nothing like that ever happened, Devin."
" I have so many things to tell you, but how to make you see the truth about my past?"
"I...don't care about your past, Devin."
"I just don't know if I can be the king you know I am, Dirk. The king you see inside."
"Okay, this is really weird," Dirk said. "I'm hanging up now."
"I can really feel the love right now, Dirk," Devin said to the dial tone. "I'll think about it."
Devin looked at Timon and Pumba, then out over the wild plains of suburban Atlanta. He knew what he had to do. "I guess my carefree days with you guys are history," he sighed. "Time to go back, and reclaim what is mine. A backup point guard job, maybe 20 minutes a game."
Far away, in Dallas, Rick Carlisle squinted at a 2 for 1 play drawn up on the board, marker in hand. Slowly he reached up, and drew a line about three feet behind the 3-point line. He labeled it "Harris" and sighed contentedly. "It is time."