33 Team meeting

The entire class looked at Jason and Samantha as they stood in the front of the class about to perform their scene.

Jason could feel his face and ears heating up but he took a deep breath and tried his best to forget that the class was watching.

'Why am I getting nervous so about doing this stupid scene? I've played in packed college arenas and in front of huge audiences. Pull yourself together Jason!'

Samantha smiled before whispering into Jason's ear "Let's start." Samantha stood close behind Jason as she asked "Are you afraid?" Jason turned around "No"

The two of them perfectly acted their scene. Ms. Yuller was engrossed in their act as she watched them perform.

By the time the two of them finished Ms. Yuller was on the edge of her seat. She jumped out of her chair and started clapping enthusiastically while the rest of the class gave out a halfhearted round of applause.

Ms. Yuller hugged Samantha and Jason "Well done you two! That was a wonderful performance. Especially you Jason.

The way you lost yourself and became Bella was amazing. Your delivery of her emotionally cold persona was breathtaking! You may have a future in theater young man."

Jason smiled as he accepted the teacher's praise but in his mind 'Yeah right. The only future I have in theater is if they make a documentary about me after I become a basketball star. People are gonna snack on some popcorn while they watch my story'

Jason and Samantha went back to their seats. Samantha was all smiles as she looked at Jason "Good job out there. I was worried that I was going to have to feed my little doggy his lines."

Jason rolled his "Haha Sammy. Real funny." Samantha paused for a second before asking "Hey uh if you don't have anything going on today you want to hang out? We could-"

Jason cut her off "Sorry. I can't today." Samantha was surprised 'Is he mad because I called him doggy? Or maybe I was being too pushy?'

As Samantha was worrying herself in her head Jason stretched and sighed "I'm planning on doing some team bonding with the guys today.

UD was right about me not putting any effort in getting to know the guys before. I thought that I knew how to lead them but I ended up pushing them away.

I might have fucked up with Manny and the other 8th graders but I won't make that same mistake a second time."

Samantha was relieved to hear that he didn't reject her because of something she did. But the next second she was frowning.

"Fuck Manny. I don't care what you say. There was no excuse for what he did to you. He's lucky he got away with just a slap."

The rest of the day quickly passed. Jason and Kyle were walking side by side to the gym. Kyle looked at Jason "You sure you want to do this?"

Jason nodded "Yeah. You can only start to fix something after you acknowledge that it's broken in the first place."

The two of them walked into the gym. Coach Swendel was sitting in his fold-up chair while everyone else was standing around on the court.

Trell, Udonis, Matt and the three other bench players that had decided to stay, turned their heads after they heard Jason and Kyle walk in.

Jason put his backpack down on the bleachers before walking up to them "I want to apologize to you guys for how I acted before.

I thought that by showing off how much better I was than you guys that you would follow me and listen to what I had to say.

I realize that not only was I arrogant but that I didn't even try to spend the time and effort in getting to know the teammates that I was trying to lead."

Jason then turned to the three 7th graders who had decided to stay "I want to thank you guys for choosing to stay. DJ, Nick, Vince thank you guys."

Jason had texted Matt yesterday and asked about the three boys who didn't leave. Matt had been on the team for a year so he knew a bit about them.

DeShawn Jackson nicknamed DJ. A light-skinned boy with a stocky build. His hair was styled in a short fade all around and he looked to be about 5'6 (1.67m).

[Skills

Free throw: E+

Lay Up: E+

Dunking: F

Close Shot: E+

Mid Range Shooting: E+

Three-Point Shooting: E+

Dribbling: E+

Passing: E+

Ball Handling: E

Play Making: E

Post Scoring: E-

Rebounding: E

Post Control: E+

Perimeter Defense: E+

Post Defense: E

Steals: E+

Blocks: E+

Athleticism: B ]

He along with the two other boys joined the team at the same time as Matt. DJ is like Jason in the sense that any food you put in front of him has a good chance of getting finished.

Nicholas Hoult aka Nick. The only other white boy that was on the team besides Matt. He was a slim 5'5 (1.65m).

[Skills

Free throw: D-

Lay Up: E-

Dunking: F-

Close Shot: E

Mid Range Shooting: D-

Three-Point Shooting: D-

Dribbling: E-

Passing: E-

Ball Handling: E

Play Making: E

Post Scoring: F+

Rebounding: F+

Post Control: F+

Perimeter Defense: E+

Post Defense: F

Steals: E-

Blocks: F

Athleticism: C+ ]

His medium length blonde hair was usually slicked back with gel. He started playing because his dad is a huge basketball fan.

Vincent Santos aka Vince. He had a head of medium length curly hair that looked like he just got a perm. He was the next tallest player behind Udonis. He looked to be about 5'8 (1.72m)

[Skills

Free throw: E+

Lay Up: E+

Dunking: E+

Close Shot: D-

Mid Range Shooting: E

Three-Point Shooting: E

Dribbling: F

Passing: F+

Ball Handling: F+

Play Making: F+

Post Scoring: D-

Rebounding: D

Post Control: D

Perimeter Defense: E

Post Defense: D

Steals: F+

Blocks: D-

Athleticism: B ]

Vince was a mixed kid. His dad was Filipino while his mom was black. His parents forced him to start playing basketball as a way to try and get him off the streets.

The three of them looked at Jason silently. It was Vince who was the first to speak up "Honestly Manny was this close to convincing us to leave with him."

DJ continued for Vince "But we remembered something. When we first joined the team we wanted to play hard and win too."

Nick nodded his head "It was only after we spent a year with the older team members that we forgot about that. But after listening to what you had to say it brought back out the desire to win and get better."

Vince looked at Jason "It was fun goofing around and relaxing. But I'm tired of being a loser. When we won that game against Mt. Vernon I felt a rush that I ain't felt in a long time."

Nick added "I'm sick of losing too. My dad was so proud when he first started coming to our games. But now even though he doesn't say anything I know that he's disappointed. Not because of the losing but because he can tell that I wasn't trying my best."

DJ put his hands behind his head "To be honest I don't have a touching reason, unlike these two bozos. I just stayed because I thought it would be more fun than quitting. Working hard and sweating doesn't look too bad."

Jason looked at the three of them with a gratified look 'I wasn't completely wrong. There were still people who wanted to win. People who are willing to go through the grind.'

Jason was happy to see that the people who had stayed seemed to be willing to put in the work to get better. He had originally thought that he was going to have to take it easy on them. It doesn't look like that would be the case.

Jason clapped his hands together "Alright. Now that we got the heavy emotional stuff out of the way we can move onto business.

Since my doctors said that I should stay away from any physically demanding activities for at least ten days I've been drawing up some new plays and helping Coach out with creating a new playbook.

If you guys are willing we are going to run these plays until they are burned into your brains and your bodies. And after that we are going to work on our team defense as well as our man to man defense."

Jason could hear the rest of the guys gulp. He saw Udonis who seemed to have a worried expression on his face.

Jason smiled "But we can start doing all that stuff after this weekend. For now I think the most important thing to do is to build some team chemistry."

Everyone was pleasantly surprised to hear Jason say that. They hadn't expected that out of him.

Jason continued "And I think the best way to build some team chemistry is with some pizza and old school arcade fun. Courtesy of Coach Swendel of course."

Coach Swendel was surprised "Huh? I'm paying for pizza?" Jason cheered "You heard him. Pizza's on Coach Swendel tonight. Eat your hearts out guys. Because after this weekend you guys are gonna get worked."

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