Story:Opportunities and Confrontations
Opportunities and Confrontations
Written by FadedForest
The net stilled, and the ball slowly stopped bouncing, joining the rest strewn across the court. Matthew grabbed another ball from the nearly empty basket at his side and took another shot from behind the arc. His routine always wrapped up with a few extra rounds of three-pointers. It was by far his best shot and something that made him unique on Dakota’s roster, but he knew he could still improve it. However, he preferred to work on his shot without distractions, which was sometimes difficult to find at Dakota’s training center.
Luckily he found a local gym before the season started, and it had everything he needed to practice. It was not too far from his place, and the owner being a big Bikers fan was a bonus. He was more than happy to let the rookie weasel use the indoor courts to train, even after hours.The owner did ask in return for Matthew to stop by on occasion during regular hours to help promote the gym. It was a great deal for Matthew, he got a second place to practice in peace, and he got to interact with some of the local fans.
He grabbed another ball and started to do a stepback jumper when the sudden ringing of his phone surprised him, resulting in too little power put into the shot. He gave the ball a blank look as it fell short and bounced to the wall. The continuous ring of the phone brought him out of his sulking. He jogged over to the bench and dug his phone out of his pack. He was a little surprised to see who it was but answered quickly nonetheless.
“Hey Coach Boorman wha-”
“Did you know he was going to do this!?” Boorman interrupted before Matthew could finish.
Matthew had no idea what could have caused the usually calm bison to sound stressed. “What you are talking about? Wait, better question who are you talking about?”
“So you don’t know what’s going on.” Matthew could hear Boorman sigh before continuing. “Well...Dylan’s playing against his brother right now, in the Fargo game.”
It took a moment for Matthew to process that simple statement, but once he had he exclaimed. “Wait he’s what?! We have a game tomorrow!”
“Yes I know, that’s the other reason I’m calling you.” Boorman cleared his throat before continuing, “Because of his actions, we don’t plan on playing Dylan until there’s an official ruling by the league. We expect some form of punishment handed down in the next few days. In the meantime, you’ll be seeing more minutes, which means we are going to need you, and honestly the whole team, to step up to help fill this hole.”
Matthew’s eyes went wide, and a look of shock settled on his face. He was so taken back that he nearly missed when Boorman continued speaking. “The next few weeks are going to be a media circus. I wanted to make sure you’d have a chance to process this, and be somewhat prepared for tomorrow.”
“Yeah, thanks for the heads up...” With that, the connection dropped and the conversation came to an abrupt end. All Matthew could do was stare at the phone, lost in his thoughts. He had no idea what Dylan was thinking. In hindsight, Dylan had seemed a distracted recently, but for him to do this...just thinking about it made his fist tightened.
A new notification caused his phone to vibrate bring Matthew out of his thoughts. Scrolling through he noticed all the tweet and text alerts blowing up on social media. There were constant reactions, stat updates, and questions about Dylan’s reason for playing. With a sigh he tossed the phone back into the bag, his free paw swiping through his hair. He knew the next few weeks were going to be a mess, both in the locker room and the media. He also knew saying anything on Twitter or to the team right now would just stick his nose into drama he had no desire to be involved with.
So he did the one thing he thought would be productive; he went back to practicing, gathering up the balls to do another round of shooting drills. It was Dylan’s choice, but the consequences gave Matthew his first shot at starting multiple games if he performed well. He wasn’t going to distract himself with Tweeter, the media, or even his feelings; he was not wasting this opportunity.
It wasn’t until the next day that Matthew fully appreciated what Boorman meant by a media circus. He had never seen so many reporters and media vans in one place since he joined the FBA. Thankfully there was plenty of security to keep the media from bothering players on their way into the facilities. The pre-game meeting went as normally as it possibly could have, minus a certain deer. Boorman addressed that his absence was to help keep the team focused on their opponents and not what had happened yesterday. Though it did little to resolve the obvious tension that had built in the locker room.
However, the game went well for the Bikers. They managed to pull away in the fourth and secure a four-point win. On his part, Matthew was pleased with how the game went. Boorman had said he would be getting more minutes, but he had not expected to start right away. He played his part in the win by shooting efficiently, finishing with seventeen points, and he managed to keep Middendorf shooting in check.
After the game Matthew attempted to head into the trainers room, intent on avoiding the reporters. Unfortunately, he couldn’t sneak in before being cornered by a few journalists. Most of their questions revolved around Dylan and how Matthew felt about the whole situation. Eventually, they realized Matthew had no interest in discussing it, and he wasn’t going to give them anything they could use, so they moved onto pestering other players. He seized the opportunity to slip into the trainers room, the commotion in the previous room dampened by the door shutting behind him. It was a habit of his to visit the trainers after every game, but the benefit of it being off-limits to the media made it his sanctuary today. Now free from the reporters questions he was able to relax and focus on recovering from the game, both mentally and physically.
By the time he left the trainers most the players had already gone home or out to celebrate the victory. He redressed in his warm-up gear and grabbed his bag from the locker room before heading out. Rounding a corner he caught an unexpected sight, a certain deer with his coatimundi agent, Sedrick Latour. The two seemed to be conversing, Latour messing with his phone while Dylan looked away from his agent with a bored expression.
“I’m surprised to see you here Dylan.” The unexpected voice drew both their attentions towards Matthew, Dylan seemed surprised at first to see the weasel, but his face settled quickly to a smirk while Latour went back to his phone.
“Well, Boorman and Bracy wanted me to come in after the game to have a discussion with me.” He said with the same smirk plastered on his face. Matthew’s jaw clenched tight at the nonchalant response.
“Best of luck then.” A short reply was all he could muster without letting his emotions speak out. He didn’t even spare Dylan a glance as he walked by the pair.
While LaTour continued to walk, Dylan came to a stop and turned back towards Matthew. “That’s all you have to say?” He asked, no longer was the smirk on his maw. “Everyone here either loves or hates me, and I have a feeling which way you are leaning.”
“I don’t think my opinion is the one you should be most worried about right now.”
“That’s fair. Guess you really wouldn’t understand anyways. You know? In hindsight? I hardly understand it.” He replied with a shrug.
Dylan went to follow his agent until he noticed Matthew had stopped walking. He suddenly pivoted to face the deer, a snarl on his muzzle. “You don’t understand it?” He yelled marching right up to the deer, “You betrayed your team to chase your selfish dream!”
“What did you say?!” Dylan bristled, his fist balled at his side and stood to his full height, slightly towering over the 6’5” weasel.
Matthew looked away, realizing he had just snapped at the deer, his snarl softened as he spoke again. “I can understand you saw your second chance to live out your dream this offseason. I...Many people don’t get that kinda opportunity.”
He gathered himself with a deep breath before he locked eyes with the deer again. Anger present, but subdued this time. “That doesn’t excuse what you did last night! You knew there would be consequences Dylan, but you put yourself before the team. You put your career in jeopardy! After what happened in college I figured you’d value your career more than that, I thought the team was important to you. Or is FBA so boring that you have to play the hero and villain?”
Dylan opened his maw, trying to speak, trying to convince the world he wasn’t the bad guy, again. But this time, instead of pleading, instead of offering an apology, he simply closed his maw. Letting the silence enjoy itself.
Matthew turned around and began walking away, realizing Dylan had nothing to say. “You shouldn’t keep Boorman and Bracy waiting.” He said. Finally, the long silence was broken. All Dylan could do was stand and watch the weasel’s back, until he disappeared around the next corner. A cough from his agent pulled him away from his thoughts. LaTour motioned towards his watch. A sigh escaped Dylan’s maw; he did have more pressing matters to deal with right now.