Story:The Forgotten Values
The Forgotten Values
Written by Wolfnumber9 and Harlow
Ferdinand walks through the halls of the facility following a female cat that has lead him through what seemed to be the whole building. The tour was unwanted, yet flattering. Finally, once they were on the top floor, smooth jazz could be heard in the distance. The music grew louder and louder once they reached the end of the hall. The stopped at the door with name “Christopher Dunphy” written on the door. The cat slowly opened it, leading the polecat inside, then closing the door per requested. The music was pretty loud and numerous pictures of the mongoose’s family were displayed all throughout the office. Finally the host looked up to see his guest. He gave him his smooth welcoming smile and then pressed a remote to pause his music.
“Well I’ll be damned.” The mongoose stated. He then rose out of his seat and walked to Ferdinand to greet him more properly. He held his hand out and said. “Dunphy. Christopher Dunphy. Thank you for coming.”
“Thank you for having me…” he replied, looking over at the decorations and how it heavily contrasted to the last Queens GM hr visited, more serene, less “edgy".
The two shook hands and Christopher then walked over to a small fridge by his desk. “You care for a drink?” he asked.
“Just water will do...” he said, his characteristic Scandinavian cadence showing a bit. “...I guess this place has changed since I heard the management did...”
The mongoose chuckled and pulled out two water bottles. “Yea, you could say that I made myself at home. But this is my city after all. Born and raised here so really...any place can feel like home.”
He then walks over to the polecat and insist one last time. “I got a nice bottle of scotch incase you change your mind.” He then hands him the water bottle.
“I usually do not drink when the meeting is this… official? So to say...” he refused politely. “Plus, even at my age, one has to take a week off good things to make sure one stays fit!” he chuckled.
The mongoose laughed with him. “Ha, buddy you’re telling me. I got two twin girls downstairs that make me feel like I’m sixty.” He then takes a drink of his water and pulls Ferdinand a chair. “Please, make yourself comfortable.”
The mustelid sat down on the leather chair, opposite to Christopher “Sterling and other journalists has been texting me non-stop since you messaged me… in public...” he shook his head.
The mongoose just laughed it off. “I’ve been told I can draw attention.” He then takes another sip of his water and sits down in his chair. “The media don’t really matter to me much...by the way, congratulations on everything your son has accomplished. From father to father, I know you must be proud.”
“Indeed, with this free agency and the trip to Sweden to accomplish what he did, it has been a crazy couple of weeks...” he sighed. “I did not know if I could keep up, but I am here still!” Ferdinand smiled, sipping some of his water. “He will go through one of a player’s toughest decisions soon, ja?”
“Indeed he will, but him being your son, I know he will find his way.” Dunphy answered back. The mongoose then leaned back in his chair and almost instantly changed his demeanor. The real conversation was about to start. “You know...” He started. “I remember during my first few days after taking this job I asked Nightfire about you. I asked him what should I say to you? How can we work together or have a conversation? I mean, I had to meet one of the best Pride players in history. You wanna know what he said? He said it’d be best not to talk to him.” Dunphy took another drink of his water and placed it on his desk. “Well, like I said before Mr. Bengtzing, I grew up in Queens and in Queens we don’t meet a man of your stature with fear. No, we meet a man of your stature with respect and that my friend, is something that I have a lot of for you...and your career.”
Ferdinand shook his head. “You talk too nicely…” he replied. “I just tried to be the best I can, given I am one of the few retired champions of the area. While I disbanded from this place a long time ago, there is always a part of me that cares for this place… well… that place, pre-move…” the mustelid reminisced. “And while I do not like being all haughty and bossy about it, the respect is appreciated, and considering the past encounters I have seen, a breath of fresh air…”
“They still remember you ya know?” The mongoose answered back. “And I’m not talking about the flashy and fickle media that just tries to get everyone angry for a story. I’m talking about the real Pride fans. Their as real here as they were in Newark. Cause you see...we felt forgotten. We were given an image of who we are by the news who just wanted to talk about the shootings and the drug gangs, but they don’t want people to see who we really are.” Christopher then gestures his hands throughout the office. “This...is who we are. We are a culture, we are a community, we are a family and not many people know that.” He then looked towards Ferdinand. “We remember you. I remember what you did on and off that court and I can truly tell you that you were not alone sir.”
“I do believe some of the values were well… forgotten. Values that did not really require a move of states, but I guess things do progress…” he sighed. “Players have forgotten values, the higher ups have forgotten values…”
“I agree with-"
“You have forgotten values…” Ferdinand continued, making the mongoose have a double take.
“I...have forgotten values?....Mr. Bengtzing, for as long as I have been a coach, I have treated every player I had like they were my own children and that doesn’t mean I spoil them. If anything, I made them work harder. I gave them guidance, gave them options, I protected them when they needed it and stood by them every time the slipped and all I asked for in return was that they never stopped working. That they never stopped reaching that goal they set for themselves, because that is what we do here.” He sighed and continued. “I’m not here for the money. I’m not for the glory. I’m here for one thing and one thing only and that’s giving these players a championship ring….everyone on this team will prove they deserve it and I will guide them to it. Because Mr. Bengtzing….I value hard work above all else.”
The polecat let the mongoose reply what he had, shaking his head at the end. “You missed the point…” he replied. “It is amazing you treat them well, no weird crap or unnecessary drills unfit for them. But what I meant was… what do you transmit to the city?” he asked, the silence that followed letting him continue. “Christopher, if I may, being on a team or managing a team is much more than doing a good job on the inside, but consider everything you do from now on has a toll on the city. Take for example, one of your players… I can not remember the name now, but I do remember they did not say good things based on species, yes? Not a single fine or notice that I heard of, not even behind closed doors, and believe me, I got ears around here…” he smirked. “and now he got big contract. It may have been out of your control then, but what does that transmit to the city, the people around? He might be good, but there must be some sort of balance...” he asked.
“Your subtlety is not needed Mr. Bengtzing.” The mongoose replied. “You’re looking at new management and I have personally talked to and warned Micah of his actions. I was just the coach then, but I personally feel that he is ready to grow up...and incase he needs a reminder, we will be ready to proceed.”
“Let me ask you in a different way…” he smiled, pointing at one of the pictures on the desk. “What are their names, if I may?”
Christopher didn’t have to look at the photo. He instead kept his gaze on the polecat. “Lisa and Lauren….they were born the same year you won that ring…”
“They look lovely if I may say so” he nodded. “But asking, if one of them says the same things Micah did, what would you have done?”
Christopher chuckles a bit. “...words could not describe what I do, Ferdinand….If they were players on my team, that’s an obvious suspension, but after that, they would have to deal with me...” The mongoose then looks down at his hands. “You do everything you can to teach them right and wrong…as a father, you should know that...but sometimes...the world is the best teacher...” Christopher then immediately looks back at Ferdinand and asks. “Any more questions?”
“That is the point…” Ferdinand smiled. “Do not take this as a slight to your work, but me telling you that you now have an… opportunity, to really make this team rise again with this New York vibe it had on my time.” he gestured. “The whole world is… literally in this area. And there are people just like you, born and raised here, and like me, striving to start anew, and literally every kind. And that is what I do not want you to forget. These people out there go on and say, like Slade saying “Newark is the worst city" and Lime saying “I only toured by designated safe areas", and all that shit…” he stressed, his tail flickering, annoyed. “While back in my day, they loved us because we loved them, we did not need that bubble that did not work at all, and you know it did not either. I played alongside a single mom who came undocumented, a guy who wore the confederate flag next to his Newark jersey, furs from everything and furs from nothing… yet we made it work.” his eyes beamed with pride. “Because New York, Newark, this place is for everyone. And that fostered love I feel is forgotten, and I feel you can bring it back… I guess in short is that, you are capable of saying what this team transmits to this place and as a former Pride player, I do not want you to mess it up.”
The mongoose tried to hide a small smile away. It quickly disappeared when he stood up and said: “Mr. Bengtzing, I’ve lived in this city for the first twenty-one years of my life. My family endured a lot, but we did it as a family. Through that, we saw the beauty in this place. I brought you here today because I want you to help me showcase that beauty.” He then walked around the desk and stood in front of the polecat. “Relax, this is not an offer to be a trainer or coach, unless that is what you want, but it’s me saying that you are welcome here anytime and I want you to see this place as your second home.”
“I absolutely do not want to be a coach...:” he laughed. “It is not on my level, and I thought you were going to ask me just that. Normally, that is what managers call past players like me for…” Ferdinand grinned, flicking his greying tail. “But I appreciate the respect and honesty. I am just an old polecat, ja?” he chuckled.
“Yea, well I could use someone old fashion to talk to once and awhile.” Christopher said with a small laugh. “You know they almost ‘accidentally’ threw out my jazz records? That’s the classics man! These young cats don’t know nothing about that.”
“Oh, fuck them!” he laughed alongside the mongoose. “And all of those singers are New Yorkers too, I can tell…” he nodded. “You got to teach these kids to love the city and what it gives. Sterling went to Billings, and made it his own. By his own heart, he went and helped a sports bar and met fans and whatnot. Make them do that naturally, never a fluffy, fake, for cameras event. Nothing a team do that is grosser than that…” he rolled his eyes.
“I like the way you think.” Said Dunphy with a smile. “I hope I can call on you for advice and all that. Sorry I had to get you here via tweeter...to be honest, Lisa is the one who runs my tweeter...social media is crazy nowadays. Anyway, I’m glad that I could have a chance to talk to you and show you who we are now.”
“I mean, you know my son’s team comes first…” he grinned. “But I did not mind. I missed the attention crazes…”
“Well, I’ll be sure to give Sterling the challenging game he craves when he comes here, but I thank you for talking to me and I hope we have more good talks in the future.” He then reaches over to shake his hand.
Ferdinand shook Christopher’s hand back. “It has been certainly a change from the last meet I got with an active GM here… that is a good thing…” he smiled. “If you look up De Benedetti, you might be inspired back again, he was GM on my time and long after…”
“Yea, Benedetti. I’ll look him up. Thanks.” He then stops shaking hands and grins. “You know, we were thinking of retiring your number this season,hanging your jersey in the rafters too, but it’s your call. We can make it happen, but I want it to be on your terms. I don’t care what the reporters say.”
Ferdinand stood with a blank expression, his tail flickering suddenly. “I am sorry… what?”
“We had a meeting not too long ago. They wanted to retire your jersey. I liked the idea, I feel that you deserve it, but it should be your decision.” Christopher stood in front of the polecat and could read his emotion, but the mongoose stuck to his words.
“I mean… why me?” he asked, chuckling at himself. “I never really was… this big iconic player overall… sorry, this feels so weird. I mean it is incredible, and what every old player wants but… what?” he laughed in between words, caught by surprise.
“Hey. Players don’t just get their jersey up there because of stats, they get their jersey up there because of heart...you had a lot of it my friend.” Dunphy answered.
“It is still weird. I only had like… one big set of games? The one leading up to finals?” Ferdinand remembered. “I mean, if you feel like I deserved it one hundred percent... I will accept it, but I got some conditions…”
“Lay it on me.” Christopher quickly answered back.
“First, if Sterling for any reason gets to play in this team in his career, he can use it...” the mustelid pointed out. “He is dead set in using it, and I do not want to get him away from it.”
“Oh that’s a given.” The mongoose said with a chuckle. “We’ll see what the future holds, but that will be a guarantee...but there’s something else right?”
“While I accept, I rather… wait a bit...” Ferdinand gestured. “I know he still feels some letdown for the Zahn number retiring, and maybe we can remedy that? By announcing it on the day his team and this team meet up here as a promo? So keep it a secret until...” he asked. “Sure that might give him enough strength to win you up… but New York is always up for a challenge, as far as I know...right?” his question with a slight hint of a daring tone.
“Ya damn right we are…” Christopher exclaimed like he was back in his playing days on the run courts in his high school. “And sure. I can promise you that. First home game we have against them.”
“Then it is a deal...” Ferdinand held his hand out to the manager. Christopher gladly shook his hand.
“Great to hear.” The mongoose said with a smile. “Now if you excuse me Mr. Bengtzing, it was a pleasure talking to ya, but I got some documents to take care of and Steve Lacy and his sax are gonna help me get through it.”
“Alright. Tack så mycket...” he replied to the manager.
“My ‘assistant’ Stacy will help you to your car. Oh and go easy on her if she seems a little nervous. She’s a student volunteer from Queens college. Big Pride fan, you know.”
“Thanks, but I came by subway...” he said, Christopher looking perplexed. “...I know the rush hours in this city like the ridges of a basketball, Dunphy...”
“Well then if my memory serves me right.” The mongoose looks at his watch. “You better get your tail on that train.” He said with a laugh as the polecat walked to the exit.