Raymund Eich

There’s No “I” In Teamosalynol

Ebook

Talk about “team chemistry!”

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Description

At the start of the basketball season, Coach Huffman expected the usual from his St. Louis Spiders—bickering stars and missed playoffs. The team’s new owner, a pharmaceutical tycoon, planned to turn things around by giving new meaning to “team chemistry.”

But even if all the Spiders’ players take a drug promoting player cooperation, their arch-rivals, the Netrunners, will use every trick to repeat as league champions….

Sample of “There’s No ‘I’ In Teamosalynol”

St. Louis County, Missouri

September 15

The doors from the locker room to the court slid open. The players stopped jawing and joking, leaving the only sound the echo of a solitary basketball dribbled on the hardwood, the squeak of sneaker soles, and then a silence followed by the rip of a ball hitting nothing but twine. They stepped onto the court and Coach Huffman stopped short.

Not at seeing Nikos Moriatis—he’d met Nik five times since the tycoon bought the Spiders at the end of last season. Not at the practice court with its herringbone parquet and the wheeled robots waiting like a line of butlers with balls, towels, sport drinks—Nik had given him a tour a few weeks ago, both of the facility and the rest of his estate. But since that earlier visit, Nik must have ordered the walls painted. A mural of great moments in St. Louis Spiders history towered above the court, and Huffman’s focus landed on an image of his younger self, hair thicker, eyes less baggy, hand outstretched and gaze on the ball arcing home to win the first, and last, championship in Spiders history.

Nik was certain he had the key to winning the second. He dribbled, practiced a juke, and shot a fadeaway jumper. Huffman had his doubts, but Nik had three of the top-five-selling neuropharmaceuticals of all time. Nik’s shot rattled the front of the rim, kicked off the back, and then fell. He picked up the ball, tucked it under his arm, and turned to the team, his cheeks flushed and his grin toothy. “How do you like the new facility?” he asked.

J.S. scratched his beard and nodded. LeDwayne grinned back. “Man, this shit is cubed,” he said, and some of the others spoke in agreement.

If Nik didn’t know the slang he didn’t show it. “Aidan?”

The center looked around and shrugged. “You spent a lot of money, at least.”

”Shit, Aid,” LeDwayne said. “If you got it, promulgate it.”

Aidan scowled back. Huffman knew what LeDwayne was trying to do. Please, not the first day of training camp. Save the ego until we’re eliminated from playoff contention. “It shows Nik’s commitment to this team.”

”That’s right, Carl,” Nik said, and then he spoke to the players, making eye contact with each. “I grew up in south county, about ten miles from here, and I’ve been a Spiders fan since before I can remember. I mowed every lawn in the neighborhood to scrape up the money for one ticket to one playoff game, and it was that one.” He pointed at the painting of Carl’s winning shot. “I wanted to play for this team, but I realized in high school I would never be good enough. But I knew I wanted to give back, to the team, to the fans. When I got the chance to buy this team, I didn’t hesitate.” He glanced at LeDwayne and Aidan. “We have as much raw talent as any team in the North American Basketball League. We have one of the best coaches—”

To never win a championship, Carl added in his mind, completing the phrase he’d read on a hundred basketball websites.

”—but for some reason we’ve never gelled. We’ve never gotten the chemistry. But I can give that to us. Literally.” He touched the face of his watch. The lights dimmed and a glow behind Carl and the players made them turn. On a giant screen, an NMNeuropharma logo appeared, then shrank and spiraled into the corner. In its place spun a ball-and-stick figure that reminded Carl of a child’s toy. “Gentlemen, I give you teamosalynol.”

”T-what?” Aidan asked.

”Teamosalynol. My team at NMNeuropharma has developed a compound that can induce changes in neurochemistry and synaptic weighting comparable to those seen in the brains of Tibetan monks and soldiers in elite combat units. It can promote selflessness and complementary cooperation in social units. It can make us a team.”

For a moment, the only sound was the whirr of the air conditioning high overhead. J.S. was the first to speak. “You want to drug us.”

Nik had a lopsided smile. “Drug is such an ugly word.”

”Aight, say medicate,” said LeDwayne.

”I want to help you succeed as a team. I’ve built this facility, I’ve recruited the best sports medicine team between Kansas City and Chicago, all of it, to help you succeed. This is part of it.”

”I’ve never heard of this—compound,” J.S. said.

”It’s brand new.”

”Then how do you know it works?”

”Krish and Rajeev in R&D have run hundreds of sims and tested in model animals. We’ll unveil it early next year for the marriage counseling market and make billions.”

”Is it safe?”

Nik smiled, confident in his product. “It’s been tested for safety on dozens of college students.”

J.S. didn’t reply. Carl, prompted by that, stole a glance. It was easy to forget J.S. had been the first Sikh in the league—his sport turban was as much a part of him as the hair it hid, and his kirpan was sheathed and hidden on a pendant under his jersey. Carl hoped they hadn’t stumbled into a religious taboo. But J.S. was also a sixth man with aging knees who had never won it all. “I will do it.”

”Not me,” LeDwayne said, and he paused while heads turned. “I ain’t being enfettered like that.”

Nik must have prepared for that. “No one’s being singled out. I’ll be taking it too. So will Carl.”

I will? Carl thought. He frowned at the mural on the far wall while subconscious thoughts slid into place. Yes, I will.

LeDwayne shook his head, whipping the diamonds on his cornrow extensions against his neck. “I can carry this team. I don’t need no chains to make me.”

Nik chuckled. “LeDwayne, you’re one of our best players, but carry this team? I haven’t seen it yet. Carl?”

”Me neither.”

”So it’s either do this with the team or ride the pine,” Nik said.

A look of shock and comedic disbelief appeared on LeDwayne’s face. ”Bench me? Damn, that’s almost risible if it weren’t so crazy. I’m the highest paid player on the team. Eight-point-four extra large.” Carl glanced at Aidan out of ingrained habit; the center’s eyes narrowed briefly. LeDwayne was too focused on the owner to notice. “You be a fool to bench me.”

”Eight-point-four? That’s point-one percent of my net worth,” Nik said, and he nonchalantly tossed the basketball to his other hand.

”You serious.” LeDwayne peered down at Nik, but the owner returned the look, betraying no weakness. The player shrugged and nodded. “Aight, if that’s how it be, I’ll collaborate.” A ripple ran through the crowd.

”Thank you,” Nik said to LeDwayne, then raised his head. “Everyone’s agreed?”

Nods and assenting murmurs erupted, then ground to a halt when Aidan said, “No.”

”No?”

”No.” Aidan looked calmly defiant.

Nik shrugged. “Your choice. Enjoy the bench. Everyone else, the first dose will be ready in the locker room after practice. I’ll see you then. Carl, they’re all yours.”

Carl nodded. “Gentlemen, ten minutes to warm up and then it’s layup drills. Let’s go.”

Additional information

Format

Ebook

Writer

Raymund Eich

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