Slaughterhouse-Six, or the Dragon's Crusade

All this happened, more or less. The basketball parts, anyway, are pretty much true. There was a basketball team called the Phoenix Suns. They had uniforms and practiced together and although they never won a championship, they often played the part of the plucky protagonist and were beloved by many fans of basketball, some from outside of Phoenix and even outside the United States.

Nevertheless, most all of their great singular stories came to unfortunate ends at the hands of bastard villains like Lakers and Spurs or Bulls and Celtics. So it goes.

There were some very unusual developments that occurred during the period of 2010 to 2014. Our plucky protagonists suddenly found themselves playing the role of the hapless loser; the kind that doesn't even really evoke your sympathy. Suddenly the failures weren't attached to any good stories and didn't punctuate any tales of valor, but were only failures and that was that. So it goes.

Unstuck In Time

A fellow by the name of Tom Chambers was there for a lot of it, and a lot more that came before. He took a strong liking to Michelob Ultra, and fancied bringing it along with him on his drives about town. That was I. That was me. That was the author of this post.

Tom Chambers has become unstuck in time.

He travels at random to various times and places in his life. Some of them are pleasant times, like when he damn near jumped over a fellow named Mark Jackson whilst dunking a basketball, instead burying his knee into the very facehole that would in later years insufferably utter phrases like "Mama, there goes that man".

Some of them are not so pleasant, such as the time that his fancy for Michelob Ultra found him in quite a precarious position when a police officer happened to inquire about his driving habits and Tom, always a man of class, politely informed the officer that he "can't even do the nose thingy-muh-bobber sober." So it goes.

As previously alluded to, Tom used to play basketball for the Phoenix Suns. He was pretty good at it too. Good enough that after his retirement they hung his jersey #24 up in the rafters, before deciding not long after that they would no longer retire jerseys, but instead place former employees with the requisite body of work into something they called the "Ring Of Honor". As it was, his #24 was worn by another basketball player named Tom Gugliotta, who despite not being a superior basketball player made a lot more money than did Tom Chambers. So it goes.

Tom's Phoenix Suns teams were fun to watch, but faithful to what seemed to be their bittersweet destiny they were always good enough to be good, but were never great. When it became clear that an upgrade was needed, their plucky coach declared that they "needed a Charles Barkley". Then they went out and did just that. Unfortunately, Charles Barkley played the same position as Tom and was significantly better at it, so Tom was relegated to being Barkley's backup and the team flourished. So it goes.

Shortly after this time, Tom was abducted by aliens. They were called PlanetORNGians and Tom learned during his time there that trivial things such as championships and playoffs were only of importance on the planet Earth. On PlanetORNG such ideas were not expressed, for even success and failure were merely unsubstantiated ideas of the mind and every moment of existence continues to exist and there is no real beginning or end.

They told Tom that if they hadn't spent so much time studying Earth, they would have no idea what was meant by "championship".

Canadians And Slovenians

After Tom was somewhat unceremoniously usurped by Charles Barkley he finished his career in a mostly inconsequential fashion and found himself in a position in television, acting as an "analyst" for the Phoenix Suns' basketball games. It was an absurdly easy job, since there were no real checks and balances in place and he really didn't have to say anything profound anyway. He simply had to talk, for short intervals at a time.

But this isn't completely about Tom Chambers. It's more about the strange time between 2010 and 2014 that he witnessed, which saw the Phoenix Suns transcend from a plucky Canadian to a plucky Slovenian. The Canadian, named Steve Nash, was a highly-decorated basketball player that was bestowed with many awards and honors, abetted by his lazy chameleon eye that allowed him to shift his first-person perspective in ways that no one else could.

Alas, just as all stories of the Phoenix Suns go, despite his successes the Suns always fell painfully short. So it goes.

When 2010 came along the Canadian had begun to outlive his abilities, chameleon eye or no chameleon eye, and the plucky Phoenix Suns were facing an inevitable decline. The proverbial powers that be scrambled to find the Canadian some assistance, but were largely only able to find the proud Pole, poor old Marcin Gortat. So it goes.

Poor old Marcin Gortat was determined to honor his Polish heritage. The only problem was that he was not significantly adept at basketball. He was entrenched firmly in the realm of being average, which isn't necessarily such a bad thing, but alas the Phoenix Suns suffered the same fate. They were average, which in the curious landscape of the National Basketball Association they played in, was somehow even worse than being bad.

Tom Chambers learned on PlanetORNG that there was no such thing as average, or even bad. Unfortunately, things worked a little differently on Earth.

Tom Chambers was there during all of this, and he spoke when the cameras were on and wore suits and even managed to look respectable most nights. He tried sometimes to put some happy dressing on the shit salad everyone was eating, but how he chose to conduct himself amounted to nothing in the grand scheme of things, which was actually what he really liked about the job.

The Phoenix Suns continued to be average until 2012 came along, and then they were suddenly much worse. So it goes.

2012 was a very interesting year. The Canadian politely asked to be traded to the soulless bastards in the land of California and in effect plunged his Canadian blade about a foot deep in the heart of every Phoenix Suns fan that still had such luxuries as a beating heart. So it goes.

Amid the hysteria a seemingly innocuous decision was made to enlist the services of the Slovenian Dragon, who went by the proper handle of Goran Dragic (much to the dismay of Jon Barry) to fill the Canadian's shoes. The Slovenian Dragon had already cut his teeth when he slayed the bastard Spurs in a most publicized fashion, and despite his ill-fated journey to the land of Texas he was to be the plucky savior of the once-plucky Suns. Indeed, the Suns so desired to be plucky once again.

There was an alien that went by the Earth name of Beasley on this team. The PlanetORNGians had told Tom Chambers once about the planet he came from, Ganjidoria. The PlanetORNGians told Tom Chambers that the Beasley meant no harm and was only there to facilitate the rise of the Slovenian Dragon, for it was only in the embarrassing failure of the Ganjidorian that the Phoenix Suns would enlist the help of the McDonoughians.

The Ganjidorian named Beasley did just what he aimed to do, and poor old Marcin Gortat fought for his Polish pride as much as his very limited abilities allowed him to do, ultimately to no avail. So it goes.

The Firebombing of Phoenix

Tom Chambers was suddenly in 1990. His Phoenix Suns were the plucky upstarts that won 55 games and found themselves squared off against the Portland Trail Blazers. The plucky Suns had actually succeeded in dispatching the bastard Lakers, which was highly impressive since the bastards rarely lose, but there was still work to be done. Tom Chambers already knew that they would lose. He also knew from his time on PlanetORNG that the championship was only an idea. It was not a real thing, and thus did not matter in any true sense.

He tried not to act defeated and cause a scene, since the other players still thought they could win, but Tom Chambers knew they would lose in 1990. They would always lose in 1990. So it goes.

Meanwhile, in 2013 the Phoenix Suns were left with an ungodly mess after the Ganjidorian Beasley left everything in a state of FUBAR in his wake. They enlisted the help of the McDonoughian and the McDonoughian, having learned many things on his own intergalactic journeys, knew that clinging to the past was nothing but an eternal death sentence.

The McDonoughian sold off the Ganjidorian and poor old Marcin Gortat for pennies on the dollar. Poor old Marcin Gortat vowed to bring honor to his Polish heritage in the land of Washington, DC. He did not succeed, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The Phoenix Suns proved to be plucky once again with the Slovenian Dragon leading the way, and the Dragon proved that even the most utter devastation can yield progress.

Tom Chambers knew from the PlanetORNGians that a championship is only an idea, and that the Phoenix Suns will always be plucky whether or not the Slovenian Dragon could achieve such trivial things. The Dragon learned many things from the plucky Canadian. He learned to not be shy about letting his blood flow. He learned not to ever let an opponent amount to more than what they actually are. He learned that anything can be conquered, but that it must also be allowed by circumstance.

Tom Chambers ended up in 2014. The Dragon was about to lay waste to the entire National Basketball Association. Tom Chambers knew how it would end. He bumped into the Dragon before a basketball game and told him of his time on PlanetORNG. He told him that championships are only an idea in the Earth mind, and that even in failure there is no true end. He told him the Suns would always be plucky. He smelled of Michelob Ultra.

The Dragon didn't listen. The Dragon proceeded to lay waste, just as he will always lay waste.

Tom Chambers was only a spectator. A footnote.

Which was actually what he really liked about the job.

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