As you may have picked up if you’ve been reading the newsletter/blog, I fancy myself a bit of a writer. I used to write fanfiction in my last years of high school and during my first years of college. I tried my hand at some original ideas but never stuck with any of them. My one attempt at NaNoWriMo is still sitting untouched since I wrote the first chapter. And since then, inspiration has come and gone with nothing fruitful coming from it.
Over the years though, I’ve learned to appreciate the art that goes into a long form interview. I used to pour over The Source, then XXL, and eventually GQ magazines from front to back, soaking up every morsel of knowledge I could. I also learned that I could probably never be comfortable enough to afford GQ prices or bold enough to buy one of those LED belt buckles in the back of XXL. Didn’t stop me from dreaming though.
With everything being available online now, I will often find myself reading the latest interview of some celebrity or musician when I run across one. I was reading over one of those very interviews when inspiration showed up again:
I could use what journalism knowledge I have and combine it with a little imagination. I could write those same interviews I loved to read; I would just have to create each subject that the writer sat down with. I would format it around the idea that the anonymous writer was compiling a collection of his work into book form, giving the reader a main character of sorts without having to focus the story on them.
This idea sat in my Google Keep notes as “dumb idea about fake interviews” for a while. At some point though, it became “a book with fictional interviews with fictional famous people”. What follows is an excerpt from my first attempt at writing one of those interviews. I now take you to the conversation… already in progress.
Even as we sit alone in the restaurant, being in the presence of a 6’9” man is a little unnerving. Sensing this, Henry flashes me that million-dollar grin that has been plastered over ads for almost 10 years all over the world.
“It’s hard to go out in public and eat in peace,” he says as he mixes a chunk of wasabi into a generous pour of soy sauce. “When I’m at home, I can cook a little and when I’m on the road, it’s normally delivery to the hotel rooms.” He picks up a piece of his sushi but pauses above his soy sauce. I ask him if he has fears of ever getting a bad pizza and having to play sick, like that one guy did in the 90s.
“Nah,” he scoffs in between finally dipping and putting the whole piece of raw fish and rice into his mouth. “I still say he made a bigger deal about it than what it was. He was definitely sick, we all know he’s not the greatest actor from his movie, so that wasn’t fake. But the whole bad pizza that late at night? I don’t buy it.”
After the way Chance Henry has terrorized the league this season, his opponents were probably wishing he would eat some bad pizza. When available, he started every game, only missing time after he tested positive for Covid-19 in mid-December. He made a triumphant return in the Christmas Day game at home against New York, leading the charge with 31 points and the game winning assist with under a minute to play. By late-January, he had rung up five 40+ point games during a road trip, all which resulted in wins for Charlotte. Even as teams started to account for his hot shooting, Henry began to lean more into his teammates. He averaged 7.3 assists in the final 6 games heading into All-Star break, which saw two of his teammates, Bus Jones and Manuel Frush, trading 20-point games as the team only lost 2 contests.
He took it “easy” in the All-Star Game, logging 13 points as he deferred his second half minutes to third year guard Rahzel Thompson of Sacramento, who was playing in his first mid-season showcase. Henry’s numbers dwindled to a “paltry” 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game after the break but Charlotte has kept winning. They enter the last month of the season with a 49-25 record, good enough for the 3rd seed in the East. As Chance sits his chopsticks down to pick up his drink, I ask him what feels different than previous seasons.
“I wish I could say it was chemistry with my teammates or the coach calling more plays my way,” he begins as he dunks another piece of sushi. “But honestly, getting rid of all the off court distractions has been a huge help.”
I had been told not to ask about some of the off court distractions Chance is referring to by his team before we sat down to dinner but now Chance seemed ready to open up.
“What happened in Atlanta was stupid. I should have never put myself in that position, even with my friends. My daddy always said you won’t keep your same friends forever and I used to laugh. Now I realize that’s true.”
Last summer, while in Atlanta fielding free agent offers, the AirBnB Chance and several of those friends he mentioned were staying at was raided by police. He was arrested along with those friends with possession and intention to distribute several kilos of cocaine that was found in the home.
How he’s able to be playing this season is almost as unbelievable. A private investigator came forward, who had been tracking Henry at the request of a former flame. Chance had arrived at the AirBnB a day before the raid. His friends, including Tyrone Williams, had shown up days before to purchase the coke . The private investigator had photos of Chance at various spots in Atlanta but nowhere near the deal when it went down. It wasn’t easy but thanks to his lawyers, Chance was able to be freed without any charges.
“I haven’t spoken to them since I made sure they had good lawyers,” he sighed as he pushed his almost empty plate away. “It was the least I could do. But I can’t associate with them anymore. We’ve been friends since we were kids back in Virginia and we tried so hard to stay away from that world. And to have them decide now, when I’ve been on, and we’re grown with kids and families, that they want to get in the drug game now?” His voice fades as he looks past me, as if trying to find the words.
“I just can’t,” he chokes out.