As Assistant General Manager Glen Carraro filed through a list of contacts, he suddenly found himself overcome with grief. All the names on the list belonged to people who had either been eliminated by Stern, or had gone into hiding. Twenty-four people, wiped off the face of the Earth. The price of joining this fight, the sacrifices that had been made for the greater good. Was it all worth it? Was it worth becoming a pawn, and helping one group of old billionaires fight another group of old billionaires if it meant becoming another statistic in this deadly game of chess? He didn't have time to decide on the answer, for he suddenly heard footsteps pacing across the hall.
It was Mitch. "You're gonna have to go to that meeting with Mike."
"Why, what happened?"
"Nothing, I just have to be somewhere"
"What should I tell the Boss?"
"Don't say anything about this, he's already a bundle of nerves as it is."
"Ha, aren't we all?"
Mitch's face turned to stone. "No. If you want to make it in this league, then you can't afford to lose control. You need to focus, or else you won't last 5 minutes when the shit hits the fan and everybody is calling for your head."
Glen sat there in awe for a few second, then replied, "How do you do it Mitch? How do you stay sane after all these years of chaos?".
"We'll have story-time later, right now I need you to leak some misdirection rumors."
"Uh, tell Broussard that we're not looking to make any moves, and uh, that we have complete confidence in our current roster."
"Will he believe it?"
"Are you kidding me? It's Chris freaking Broussard."
"Whatever you say!"
As Mitch strolled back across the hallway, he suddenly felt a vibration. His battle-hardened instincts told him that it was a bomb of some sort. But where? Where could it be? He scoured the surrounding area, but he could still not locate the source of the vibrations. Then, it stopped. He tensed up, bracing for an explosion, but there wasn't one. Then it hit him . He slowly reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He glanced at the name on the Caller ID. Claire, his wife. How long had it been since he had last seen her? Four months? Five months? How long had it been since he had spoken to his two kids? Three years? Had they gotten the cards he sent to them for their Birthdays? Did they even remember what his voice sounded like?
He was supposed to have seen them last week, but his request for time off was denied by the Boss. "No, we're too weak, too vulnerable. What if something goes down while you're on vacation? I can't let you go Mitch, I'm sorry."
That was that. Nobody knew when there would be time for respite. Everybody was dug into the trenches, waiting for February 21st. This was the stretch-run of the season. Yes, it seemed odd to be saying that so early in the year, but this was a very peculiar season. Not even Mitch, a master Ninja with a permanent poker-face could hide his disappointment. Every day brought more pain. Every time he turned on ESPN he heard more talking heads spewing their "expert knowledge".
He laughed, if they were really experts, then they would have bagged a job in the league by now. What was the latest rumor? That he and D'Antoni would be fired at the end of the season? Sometimes he wished that was true. He wouldn't have to worry about hidden explosives or double agents or any of the demons he has to battle constantly.
Snap out of it Mitch. What did you just finish telling Carraro? You gotta calm down Mitch, focus on the task at hand. What was the task anyways? Oh right, he had to go...have a chat with somebody.
"Lock up when you're done here, I'll see you tomorrow.
" "You sure you don't want me to come with you?"
Mitch hesitated for a second, then retorted,"I'm sure. You're not ready for this yet....maybe in a few months Glenn."
Glenn sighed. "Alright Mitch"
As he drove his custom Licorice colored Ferrari 458 Italia to his destination in Newport Beach, Mitch's phone powered down. It was a Fujitsu F-Series flip phone. Why such an outdated mobile device? Because the F-Series contains special privacy features that mask calls, texts, and voice messages. For this reason, it is popular among adulterous husbands in Japan. However, it is also the cellular phone of choice among General Managers in the NBA as one can never be too stealthy in this dangerous league.
Mitch stepped out of the car and made his way to the doorstep of a large neo-Spanish style mansion. He rang the doorbell. No answer. He rang it again. Still no answer. He began banging at the door. "C'mon Dwight, wake up and let me in you lazy bum!"
After waiting for an answer that did not come, Mitch decided to take matters into his own hands.
"I guess I'll have to come in uninvited then." He took a few steps back. "Oh, I'm going to be sore in the morning." Mitch took a running start and tried to bust the door open.
The only thing Mitch had managed to bust open was his skin, as there were several cuts and bruises along his arms. He glanced at the door.
Not even a scratch.
Then, he noticed a garage door a few feet away.
"I don't get paid enough for this shit, man."
He discreetly got back into his Ferrari and maneuvered the car until it was directly in front of the garage door.
Mitch quickly made a mental note to check if the Lakers paid for his car insurance. Then, he slammed his foot down on the gas pedal and braced for impact.
Chunks of the door went flying everywhere as the Ferrari tore through everything in its path. If anybody was asleep in the house before, they were definitely wide-awake now.
Mitch was relatively unscathed, aside from a finger that became dislocated after the car made impact. This didn't phase Mitch however, as he popped it back into place without even a grimace.
He waded through the rubble and eventually found the door leading to the house. Slowly turning the doorknob, he entered the house.
Mitch was enshrouded in darkness.
As he turned his night vision glasses on, the faintest smell of burning Hickory wood filled the air. Following his heightened senses, Mitch found himself creeping up a winding staircase.
Weird, he thought, usually I would have encountered a security guard, or at least a dog by now.
Finally, he found the room he was looking for. Smoke wafted out out the crevices underneath the door. The distinct sound of fire crackling could be heard. Mitch gently tried to open the door. It was unlocked.
As the door creaked open, Mitch found himself in a large space, too big for a bedroom, but too small for a lounge area.
An occupied purple and gold plush chair was situated in the middle of the room near a few other small chairs. An ice cold voice, rich with venom dripping from every word broke the silence.
"Hello Mitch. It is such a pleasure to finally meet you."
The chair swiveled around so the two could lock eyes. Mitch was so stunned he had to do a double take while simultaneously getting into combat stance.
Contempt oozed from Mitch's mouth as he fired back in shock, "You, what....what are you doing here?"
"Oh stop being so dramatic my dear, come, sit in this earth-toned vintage Thonet No.14 curved bistro chair. We have much to discuss."