The following is an exercise in fiction.
A hot summer morning in downtown Phoenix. A night of heavy alcohol consumption had left me with an acute case of balloon-head and I knew there was only one solution laid before me: a journey to the hidden gem of Phoenix that is Matt's Big Breakfast. Thick-sliced bacon, honey lemonade and a stack of flapjacks from Matt's is one of modern science's best kept secrets, and can cure far more than hunger and hangovers.
Being in a tiny building that offers little surrounding shade from the menacing sun that hovers above, it does require a rather long, hot wait before your name is finally called and you're welcomed into the little shop of miracles that is disguised as a dime-a-dozen diner.
As I waited to hear my name outside, sipping on the complimentary lemonade in a vain attempt to stay somewhat cool, I noticed a young, slender European fellow standing alone a few feet from me. I had experienced some wicked hangovers before, but never any that induced hallucinations. This was the Spur Slayer himself, Goran Dragic, waiting patiently for his breakfast.
I decided to engage him.Me: Hot day, innit?
GD: Yes, it's ok though. I enjoy the lemonade.
Me: Aren't you Goran Dragic?
GD: Yes I am El Dragon.
Me: And you're waiting outside just like the rest of us? Why don't you tell them you play for the Suns and see if they'll move you ahead on the list?
GD: Eh, I don't care for such things. I play basketball, and I am from Slovenia. I can wait for pancakes and this. It's not a big deal.
Me: Ok, well it was nice talking with you. I know you hear this all the time, but your game against the Spurs was... awesome. (At this point I made a mental note to punch myself in the head later, for sounding like Chris Farley)
GD: (Laughs) Yes, it was a good game for me. I found good flow and played with aggressive. Thank you.
I returned to my area a few feet away to continue waiting, and after a few minutes my name was called. As I started to head into the restaurant, I stopped and asked the Dragon...
Me: Mr. Dragic, I'm here alone... if you'd like to join me at a table it's cool with me. It's hot out here anyways.
GD: (After only a slight hesitation) Ok yes, I will have pancakes with you.
We made out way into the cramped restaurant to our table. I promptly ordered a honey lemonade.
GD: Honey lemonade? What is this?
Me: It's just what it sounds like. Trust me dude, you gotta try it.
GD: (To the waiter) I will too have this "honey lemonade".
At this point, I figured we were stuck at a table together for at least 45 minutes, and I decided to dispose of the elephant in the room.
Me: Goran, it's really good to have you back. But are you nervous, worried, at all? I mean it's your team now, and you got paid. Kind of a lot of pressure on you.
GD: (Chuckles) I don't think in such things. We have a lot of good players on this team. We play as a team. I'm just part of the team.
Me: I don't know dude, they didn't exactly surround you with a full arsenal. I think they want you to be an all-star.
GD: Full arsenal? We have Luis, is good friend of mine. I played good basketball with him.
GD: I like Shannon and Michael. But what does it mean?
Me: Goran, you have to have the ball in your hands. You can't let them try and create offense; it's gonna be brutal. Shots being tossed up from all over the place, 21-footers galore, turnovers, mass hysteria Goran. You can't just be Goran, you have to be El Dragon.
GD: I can be always El Dragon. I can penetrate and finish with the right hand. I am better assisting now. And I have the Polish Machine, I would very much like to pick and roll with him. We can be a good team with good players, but I can be El Dragon.
Me: Steve's gone now. KJ, Kidd, Nash, and now you.
GD: Wasn't there a Stephons Marbury too?
Me: No. Never.
GD: I don't think in such things. Steve was a great player, I learned very much from him. But even when I was a younger player I would sometimes play even better than Steve, and Steve would be on the bench not playing. I don't like to brag and things like this, but maybe I can be better than Steve.
Me: (Momentarily choking on my honey lemonade) That's kind of a tall order, Goran.
GD: Steve once was not very good at basketball, yes? I don't like to compare to Steve and things like this, but I know that Steve is Lakers now and I'm Suns and playing hard and working hard I think maybe people don't miss Steve so much when I'm playing.
Me: I hope so Goran. I really hope so. I like you.
GD: I like you too.
Our food arrives just in time to break the awkward man-tension of the moment. Neither of us were to be bothered while engorging ourselves. After eating we were both ready to leave, me being free from the shackles of my hangover and Goran ready to do whatever Goran Dragic does.
Me: Thanks for being candid with me, Goran. I can't think of anyone I'd rather see succeed than you.
GD: I will make fans proud. I maybe not be what Steve was but I will work very hard and people won't be in disappointed.
At this point, I think to myself, I don't know how good this kid will turn out to be, but if he can be as good as his talent suggests, one couldn't ask for a better face for their franchise. I had a great conversation with him and can't wait to watch him progress, and thankfully it will be in a Suns uniform after all.
GD: Thank you RMason, the honey lemonade was very satisfied.
Me: Hell yeah it was.
GD: Oh and I think I maybe left wallet in the car. You got this, yes?
Me: (Without hesitation) Yeah dude. I got this.