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Fan Fiction Friday returns: The Monta of Time

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Monta Ellis' training takes an unusual turn

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Author's note: Welcome back to Fan Fiction Friday, some people's favorite summertime diversion, others' hated waste of time. I decided to take a step into "crossover fan fiction" which is apparently where you put your characters in an already existing fantasy universe of some kind. In this case, I have chosen Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's Wheel of Time series. I hope at least somebody who reads this has also read that, although, you know. It's summer, anything goes.

"You must use your hands as a defensive tool, sheepherder,"

"Sheepherder? Coach, what..."

Carlisle's eyes were like blue vipers as he moved in a defensive crouch, sinewy and silent, shadowing an imaginary roll man. "Apple blossom on the wind," he said, "boar falling down the mountain."

"What are you even..."

The gym was quiet, aside from them. Monta had been a little dubious about making a "quantum leap" as a player. The last year had been, for him, a moment of sweet revenge against his critics, and he just wanted to keep that going. But he had nevertheless been excited to learn from one of the best minds in the game.

It seemed, however, that "one of the best minds of the game" had somehow become completely deranged. Carlisle was stripped to the waist, a yellow bandana around his head, emblazoned with a golden crane. "Coach," he started. Carlisle slapped him.

"Hands, sheepherder! Hands up! We're not paying you 9 million dollars for you to die in the first game!"

Monta raised his hands. "Coach, I like you, but if you slap me again I'm going to bounce you on the floor like a basketball."

"How old are you, Monta?"

"28?"

"No. A man's birthday is the day he first picks up a basketball."

"2....6?"

"In the Borderlands, sheepherder, if a man has the raising of a child, that child is his, and none can say different."

"Coach, what are you..."

Carlisle made a move. "The willow shakes the branches. Then, when the point guard drives..." Carlisle slid his feet into the paint, his hands still up, "the raven calls at midnight. Do not go for the steal. Fake it, and keep your feet." He stood up straight, arms spread. "The mountain calls to the pony."

"What's going on here, coach? Did Jose tell you to mess with me?"

Carlisle stopped. He put his hand on Monta's shoulder. "You are good, sheepherder, but there are many that are good. I have known many who were good lose their concentration and get a knife in the back from a farm boy they overlooked. Can you win? Can you do it every game? You must learn, Monta, and there is precious little time." He leaned close. "Death is lighter than a feather, Monta. Duty, heavier than a mountain."

As Monta stared, Rick began to walk away. Then, suddenly, he turned around again.

"One last thing, sheepherder. The time may come when you must sheathe the sword. You must not be afraid."

"Sheathe the sword?"

Rick pantomimed taking a charge.

"Coach, that's just taking a charge. Why would you call it...Did you have a stroke? Should I get someone?"

"That is all for today, sheepherder. You have done well."

The ball hit the floor, its slow bounces echoing Carlisle's footsteps as he left the gym. Monta stared off into the darkness for a long time.

Then he got down into a defensive crouch and slid his feet. "Apple...something on the wind...boar...does something, I don't know..."