Journeyman center Earl Barron, most recently an NBA player as a member of the Golden State Warriors, is currently participating in the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. He took time from his busy schedule to do an interview with PokerListings.com, which you can watch above. When he finished Barron wrote a letter to his sister in Victorian England. We have published these epistles twice before (here and here), and we do so again below.
When I last wrote, I felt that the sun would never set on my basketballing empire. I had just gained employment as a minder of the centered position for the Warriors of Golden State, a troupe whose appellation foretold many riches in my future. I dreamt of restoring our family name to its deserved stature, and of finally ending my tenure in the Colonies and taking my rightful seat at Clarksdale Hall. Alas, we were not to have been so lucky. However, when you reach the end of his parchment, I believe you will feel a renewed sense of belief.
My time with the Warriors troupe lasted but a sliver more than a fortnight. Though I had been promised gold bullion by the businessman Mr. Joseph Lacob, my contract was terminated due to the belief amongst the men in power that I was not fit for posting defence of the court's painted region. I dismissed these charges at once and reminded the troupe general, the Honorable Reverend Mark Jackson, that years of aristocratic inbreeding had blessed me with the strength of an oak tree and the roar of three lions. He dismissed my claims as rantings and stated that his troupe was to give no excuses for their deficiencies, lest they become victims of divine retribution. I left his quarters in a huff, although not before thanking him for his most stimulating sermons on how to "pick" the opponents to spring attacking teammates on their paths to the scoring hoop.
This turn of events left me with ill temper. After so many seasons of basketballing in all manner of metropolises across this land, I thought I had finally hit the mother lode, only to be cast about by another band of misers. When I joined forces with Golden State, I heard that they had been a most detestable troupe for many years. In my haste to find employ, I considered these forewarnings to be the work of modern Cassandras, but I should have known better. Is it any wonder they fare so bloody awful (forgive my language, sweet flower) with treatment of noblemen as such? To make matters far worse, I received word a month after my dismissal that they had procured the dastardly Australian Andrew Bogut, a supposed teammate with whom I rough-housed during my brief time in the northern town of Milwaukee. What sort of troupe would willfully bring the scion of criminals into their bosom? Did they think him blessed with the leaping powers of a kangaroo?!
Nevertheless, my depression lasted just a short spell. My appointed barrister Mr. Derrick Powell, Esq. ringed me to inform me that a troupe in the Spanish colony of the Philippines asked after my services. I initially bristled at the suggestion. The Association of Philippine Basketballing is a league of local heroes and castoffs, where true basketballers go only when in desperate need of funds. Surely I need not stoop so low at such a key juncture in my journey? Mr. Powell set me straight. He reminded me that I had first learned the trade of basketballing amongst the Turks, and spun a wonderful story comparing my situation to that of the Royal Navy faced with the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines in 1588. Though my situation looked dire, I could see myself through by triumphing against great odds in this Spanish land and coming out the better man for it. The Philippine troupe — the Bolts, curiously run by the colony's utilities holding company — had already booked me passage on the sail barge Philippine Airlines Flight 238 and expected my arrival within several days.
When I arrived on the Islands, I was taken aback by the squalor that consumed most every hovel. I had grown accustomed to street urchins and dodgers during my time spent in London, but the Filipinos lived so poorly as to make me appreciate my comparative wealth. Yet what truly startled me was their devotion to the basketballing arts. Though most Filipinos are but a hair taller than a hound, they possess learned skills in navigating basketball defenders and improve upon their craft with the attention of the best blacksmiths in all of England. In truth, I respected them not much less than the noblemen I had worked with in America, such as the Marquess Aldridge and Mr. Stephen Nash, on whom our queen bestowed the Order of Canada. Better yet, I was welcomed as a conquering hero and expected to provide considerable defence and offence to the Bolts. Finally, I had arrived at a port ready to appreciate me as the man my birth proclaims me to be. I was there for a short period of time, but I cannot relate to you what the experience did for my morale.
I returned stateside and set about finding my next basketballing troupe. I was not met with much success, but I was not deterred from my goals. Luckily, another opportunity arose. During my tenure with the Heat of Miami many years ago, the esteemed Doctor Shaquille O'Neal (do not be alarmed, he is of Northern Irish extraction and pledges fealty to the queen) taught me the game of Texas Hold Them, a variation of three-card brag in which men of great skill and derring-do bet and bluff their way in hopes of winning a considerable pot of coins. Doctor O'Neal was known to cheat his way to victory by distracting us with a bellowed bon mot, but I established myself as a player of no small worth and kept up the game no matter where I travelled.
My fortunes turned just a week ago, when I heard of a high-stakes World Series of Poker in the desert oasis of Las Vegas. The grand prize totals in the millions of pounds, a sum I thought imaginary until an eavesdropper named "Armadillo Smythe" informed me that he had won a smaller but nevertheless quite lucrative pot two score years in the past. I knew that I must participate. Not possessing the coffers to buy my own stake in the tournament, I joined a smaller game and won a spot in the main event based on my strength of play and measure of fame as a minder of the centered position. My opponents and the adoring audience implored me to display for them the diamond-encrusted championship ring I had won in Miami, and for once I thanked my pride for not allowing me to barter it for a lamb and four quarts of ale when afforded the chance five years previous. I was carried out of the gambling hall on the shoulders of the crowd, and they bought for me enough quarts of ale to make anyone forget about a declined trade for a belly full of mutton.
The competition is fierce, but I write you today with great joy, for I have already outlasted hundreds of ousted participants in the main event. This contest demands great patience and determination in the heart of the competitor, and those are the very traits I have had to display during my trials and tribulations as a basketballer.
I cannot peer into my future — I must only play with confidence and maintain faith. But I know that I will regain our fortune soon enough and that we shall see through this dark period in our lives. Our name will make men tremble once again, and I will buy for you that glorious ivory mare you have always desired.
Your Humble Servant,
The Earl Barron
Postscript. The local broadsheet tells me that the modern Olympiad are to be held in London within the month. Can this be? Do participants still perform in the nude? Please write to me relating the finals of the discus and javelin throws, as well as the forty-yard hop. Will they shower garlands upon our great empire's athletes? I am atwitter with curiosity!