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Ball Don't Lie

Earl Barron responds to his employment with Golden State

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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The Earl Barron tells young children of his travels and adventures (Otto Kitsinger/Getty).

On December 20, NBA journeyman Earl Barron was cut by the Portland Trail Blazers. Last Friday, he was signed by the Golden State Warriors. Ball Don't Lie has obtained a copy of a letter to his sister Candace back home in Victorian England. They have communicated before.

Dearest Sister Candace,

It has been a trying time as I try to reclaim our family's lost standing in the Americas. When I left England more than eight years ago to pursue employment in the basketballing arts, I knew that I might undergo all manner of petty embarrassments. This profession is not made for men of our privileged upbringing, but the rough and tumble sort reared on the cobblestone thoroughfares of the land these traitors to the crown call a country.

Nevertheless, I must admit that the quest has brought me to the corners of the world previously encountered only in legend. You may remember that I was briefly employed by the Suns of Phoenix, only to be relieved of my duties along with my fellow nobleman the Earl Clark in December of 2010. Shortly thereafter, my appointed barrister Mr. Derrick Powell, Esq. and I heard of potential employment in the northern town of Milwaukee, located near the quintet of Great Lakes that divide the United States from our true colonial allies in Canada.

At first, the thought of residing so near a commonwealth raised my spirit to the height of the tower at the Palace of Westminster. What I found was distinctly less impressive. The local basketballing troupe, bestowed with the name Bucks for the imposing stags native to the region, proved themselves to be a ragtag group of degenerates ill fit to raise Sir Larry O'Brien's trophy as kings of the Association of National Basketball. The owner of the troupe, one Mr. Herbert Kohl, apparently doubled as a representative in the nation's House of Commons — as if I were to take orders from a mere commoner simply because he may opt to levy taxes upon my household. To make matters even worse, Mr. Scott Skiles, the presiding general of Bucks, screamed into my visage several times daily simply for posting defence of our goal at my leisure rather than his diabolic pace.

However, I held fast to dreams of a restored family name. Imagine my shock, then, when General Skiles informed me that I was only to be employed for two periods of ten days as Bucks awaited the return of their usual master of the centered position, Andrew Bogut. If you wonder why I forget my manners and fail to call him Mr., know that he is a native of the penal colony Australia, born to thieves and crooks not fit to carry the undergarments of Englishmen. Naturally, I responded to this news with considerable fury, demanding that General Skiles relieve that brigand Bogut of his command at once and install me as master of the centered position. I was told to leave his study forthwith and given a sack of shillings as severance.

Fear not, for this moment of immense shame happened to be a bit of divine providence. Mr. Powell had me meet him at the nearest International House of Pancakes, an institution of culinary diplomacy. Mr. Powell informed me that the basketballing troupe of Port Land, known as Trail Blazers, were in the market for a man of the centered position. We concluded that I must apply for the position at once. We arranged transport with a covered wagon organized by the Danish Family Henriksen, none of whom spoke any of the Queen's English, and set out at once for the Willamette Valley.

I knew little of Port Land before arrival. What awaited me could best be described as a little pocket of English bliss in the midst of a den of iniquity. Lush greenery surrounded the township, all rife with fatty fowl for the hunt as far as the eye could see. The denizens of Port Land itself wore the finest in Victorian fashion and were known as "steamed punks" for their adoration of the most advanced technologies of our day.

The troupe itself was similarly delightful. The owner, Mr. Paul Allen, made his fortune in adding machines. He welcomed me aboard his leviathan leisure barge and offered me the two-hundred-and-seventy-seventh lay for the basketball season. The experience was one I shall not soon forget. Our captain, Mr. Brandon Roy, led us with poise and brio befitting an officer in the Royal Navy. (Mr. Roy's name and carriage caused me to believe him the lost Dauphin, but others claimed he hailed from a nearby Emerald City.) The only demerit of the arrangement, apart from Port Land's reliance on coffee and not tea, was the presence of the spectre of Mr. Gregory Oden, who haunted the hallways like the madwoman in the attic of Miss Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre. (Have you read this volume with Mistress Haversham? Miss Bronte is a friendly acquaintance and quite talented, perhaps even more so than her sisters Emily and Anne. I must introduce to the lovely trio upon my return.)

Sadly, this employment was cut as short as my tenures in Phoenix and Milwaukee. Upon completion of the basketballing campaign, the Association of National Basketball's owners barred their basketballers for forming a workers' union. As a man of esteem, I gladly supported the owners' enterprise and attempted to join their fight. As if controlled by a pack of sustenance farmers, union strongmen Mr. William Hunter, Esq. and Mr. Derek Fisher penalized me for my actions and prevented me from plying my trade. Disconsolate, I loafed around Port Land hoping to find work as a merchant, but had no luck. I was even approached with a potential partnership by the Irishman John Thomas O'Sullivan, but I decided it improper to stoop to consorting with a people who consider the potato a delicacy.

After many months, the owners and the renegade union finally reached an agreement. However, by some cruel twist of fate, Mr. Roy announced his retirement from basketballing, presumably to lead troops into battle, and Mr. Allen terminated my employment with nary a warning. Faced with the prospect of no wages, I stowed away on the Port Land merchant vessel Alaska Airlines Flight 2563 in the hope of finding a more hospitable employment. It was the lowest I have been since I commenced my search for basketballing glory.

Yet every fall precedes a triumph, and so I write you today as a fully employed minder of the centered position. Let me impart the story as I experienced it. Alaska Airlines Flight 2563 reached her first port in San Francisco, the home of prospectors hoping to profit from the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill. Planning to stake a claim, I visited a local saloon to inquire after the best spots to strike it rich. Instead, I met a fellow basketballer who implored me to call him Ishmael. Ishmael, who I later learned owned the surname Smith, told wondrous stories of a troupe across the bay in Oak Land, which apparently housed a shipyard in days of yore. Ishmael called them Warriors of Golden State, a mythical land presumably constituted wholly of precious ore. He spoke of an armed sentry named Montellis, covered in tattooed drawings and purveyor of the wildest harpooning arm this side of the South China Sea. If I were to believe the tall tales, Ishmael had just been relieved of his duties by Mr. Joseph Lacob, the troupe's owner. I ordered a ferry to take me to this Oak Land and set about organizing a meeting with Mr. Lacob.

It went splendidly. Mr. Lacob proved to be a fair, if excitable, man, and the troupe general, the Honorable Reverend Mark Jackson, spoke in fantastical metaphors of men downed in hand-to-hand combat and grown chaps who run fugitive from their mothers. Reverend Jackson desired my services as a minder of the centered position after the unfortunate injury of Mr. Kwame Brown, a laggard cursed with the hands of a small child. According to the preacher, Mr. Brown required amputation of his arm after an intentional penalty, leaving Warriors with but a single man to mind the centered position. Warriors asked me to join them for the full campaign as they attempt to best troupes which cannot boast mother lodes beneath their courts. Or so I hope — I have not yet been compensated for my services and can only hold illusions of my employer's largesse.

I know by now that one bit of basketballing employment does not suggest this adventure is near a joyous completion. My time in Oak Land may go the way of Port Land, or Milwaukee, or Phoenix before it. And yet I must hope. As long as Clarksdale Hall remains in despair and we cannot afford to pay your dowry, my task shall never end. Our family crest must be viewed as worth tenfold the profit of the Association of National Basketball entire. Stay strong. Our state shall turn golden once again.

Your Humble Servant,

The Earl Barron

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