Little Hicks sat in his corner so close to the little fire that he surely would rub his hands raw from trying to absorb the warmth. For his employer would not allow him to place any additional coal or wood on the fire because that would be taking an offensive stance toward the matter. His employer demanded that all things must be done defensively, so young Hicks could warm himself & not spend a penny more on luxuaries of coal or wood.
HICKS, shouted his employer, I don't pay you to sit there wasting time daydreaming by the fire! Get back to work and I'll not hear one word from you until you have completed printing every single TruWarrior T-Shirt.
Yes sir, replied Hicks.
Knowing that tomorrow was Christmas he did not want to raise the ire of his employer so that he would be able to get his full day off and maybe even some form of bonus. Young Hicks went back to diligently stitching each shirt by hand.
A knock at the front door was heard.
Well don't just sit there get the door, yelled Hicks employer.
Yes sir, replied Hicks.
While rapping himself in a gold colored comforter that had a large :thepacers on one end young Hicks slowly made his way towards the door without hesitation, but with full knowledge that a cold chill accompanied opening that frigid door.
Another knock and Hicks was opening the door.
In the doorway stood the cheery face of Jay@section222 with his wife.
Come in come in before you catch your death of cold, Hicks cheerfully said to Jay.
Jay & his wife swiftly walked into the small shop and brushed the snow away from each other, laughing in the goodness of the day.
Is your master in? Asked Jay.
But of course he is, said Hicks, however I fear you will find him in poor humor these days.
Nonsense, Jay replied, I come about today to invite him to Christmas lunch & to enjoy the merry tidings of the season and to watch the Pacers play on Christmas day.
BAH HUMBUG a deep voice said.
The room grew colder, even though the door was shut, and a dark shadow was cast over the gathering of people. For there standing in the stairway looking down upon the group was Hicks employer.
He was wearing an official #15 Ron Artest Jersey from the Chicago Bulls, he had on Jordan Nike's and had a # 8 Bryant gold wristband.
It was Uncle Buck.
Uncle, come with us to lunch upon the morrow and we will feast then we will retreat to watch the Pacers play the Pistons and we will watch the gloryous return of Jermaine O'Neal, Jay said.
A Hum bug upon O'Neal & a hum bug upon the Pacers, U.B. stated.
A hum bug upon the Pacers? questioned Jay.
Yes, A hum bug, said U.B.
You keep the Pacers in your way and let me keep it in my own way, said U.B.
But you scarcely keep them at all anymore, Jay said sadly.
Then let me leave it alone then, responded U.B.
What reason do you have to dislike the Pacers, you've spent enough money over the years on them? Asked Jay
What reason do you have to like the Pacers, you've scarcely bought ten games a year for several seasons now? Responded U.B. sourly.
I will keep my christmas cheer about me & wish you the merriest of holidays and will hold hope that you will join us for lunch and the game tomorrow, said a smiling Jay.
Bah Humbug said U.B. under his breath as he turned and went towards the staircase.
Without a further word a smiling Jay & wife turned towards young Hicks and gladly wished the seasons greeting upon him. In turn young Hicks warmly returned their wishes, even though he was cold of body he still was flowing with the promise of the day & the joy that is Pacers pride. With that Jay and Hicks each said "merry christmas" followed by a rousing "Boom Baby".
Old U.B.'s blood was steaming.
Not another word out of you young Hicks lest you findyourself without your situation, said U.B.
Yes sir, replied Hicks has he shuffled back to his stitching.
As Jay & wife walked out the door a good natured big fellow walked in.
Is this the business of "all things defense" with the owners of Uncle Buck & Firethecoach? Asked the man.
I've spent a good deal of money on a sign to advertise that very fact, said U.B.
Smiling widely the man said, my name is Big Mac and I've come from the Pacers foundation. Do I have the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Buck or Mr. Coach?
Firethecoach has been dead for these past 7 months. Actually he died seven months ago this very night, said U.B.
Well, I'm sure the liberalism and goodness in nature of Firethecoach will be represented by his partner. Replied Big Mac.
Snickering U.B. said, yes FTC and myself were kindred spirits.
Good good then, said Big Mac, we are collecting for the poor and underprivledged of Indianapolis so that they may go to the Reggie Miller youth camp this summer. Reggie will be teaching the young to shoot three's and how to drive the lane.
Will there be no fronting the post taught? Asked U.B.
Will there be no education of how to send two guards back to stop the break? Further queried U.B.
Yes, yes I'm certain these skills will be taught but Reggie will be focusing on complete fundamentals of the game. Said Big Mac
How much can I put you down for? asked Big Mac.
Nothing, replied U.B.
You wish to remain anonomous then? asked Big Mac.
I wish to be left alone, said U.B. I don't make merry at the holidays anymore and if someone wishes to learn basketball skills they should go to the truwarrior program in NYC to learn the trade.
With that Big mac turned and left the business.
I suppose you will be wanting the whole day off tomorrow, asked U.B. sourly to Hicks.
If it's not to much trouble sir, he sheepishly replied.
Yes, it is troublesome. What reason is it to celebrate the robbing of a man every December 25, if I paid you $1.00 less you would feel yourself ill used, said U.B. You be back in here all the earlier the next day.
Yes sir, said Hicks who then wrapped himself up in his comforter & placed on his Pacers gloves and ran out the door.
Humbug, thought U.B.
Uncle Buck closed up the shop & he removed the one little lump of coal from the fire that he allowed Hicks to burn. He rubbed off the used pieces and placed it to the side proud of the fact that he could use the coal again come Monday.
U.B. gathered himself up and wrapped himself in his new red jacket that had a emblem on it. He placed his new hat on that had a :mavericks logo on it and headed out the door.
On his way home he stopped by the local dank restraunt so that he could eat his stew and read slam magazine. After reading all the articles, skipping any referance to the Pacers, he slowly made his way home.
As he approached his house the wind was stirring almost to the point of a howl being in the air. As he wrestled with his keys in the dim light his eyes betrayed him for there on his door knocker appeared a face, a face that was in pain and anguish. He could not make out the face but he recognized the painfull look on the face. Then it was gone.
Bah Humbug, thought U.B. as he slowly opened his door.
The night progressed and U.B. sat down to enjoy a cup of soup before going off to bed. He sat in his corner chair that faced the fire place sipping at his soup & watching the fire.
Then a sound began. Clanking of chains and a moan filled the air.
U.B. sat stunned.
No, he thought to himself, this is just in my mind.
Then the fire blew out with a whoosh. The smoke began to envelop the room and U.B. began to cough. As he was rising to his feet he stopped, stared and then fell deep into his chair. For there standing before him in the room.
Who are you spirit? asked U.B.
Ask me who I was, stated the spirit.
Who were you then, asked U.B., stating you are awfully particular for a ghost.
In life I was your partner, replied the spirit.
FTC, is that you? Asked U.B.
Yes, replied the spirit.
Why do you wear such a burden and why are you here haunting me? Asked U.B.
These chains are the excuses I formed in life, replied FTC. I made them link by link everytime Ron Artest did something bad but I excused it because he was such a good player.
Do you not beleive in me, said FTC, seeing that U.B. had an uncaring look upon his face.
The mind and senses can be fooled, said U.B. suddenly feeling smart about himself, a piece of cheese an undigested potato. Why there is more gravy than grave to you I fear.
With that FTC let out a loud earpiercing howl.
Visibly shaken U.B. states, why do you haunt me my old friend?
I am here to warn you? said FTC. These links I wear I forged in life an now I am cursed to walk the earth never resting never sleeping, the chain you bear is seven times longer than my own. I am here to warn you to change your ways or you will be cursed to the same fate I am.
But you were a good man of the defensive business, cried U.B.
Offense was my business, rebounding was my business, fundamental basketabll was all part of my business but I didn't learn this till it was to late.
With that a hand appeared from the fire place and pulled on FTC's chain.
Quick I have no more time said FTC. You will be visited by three more spirits before this night is over I pray that the lessons they teach will not be lost on you.
With a puff of smoke he was gone.
U.B. ran to his room, threw off his close put on his new p.j.'s with the logo on it and pulled the covers over his head.
He was shaking so that he fell fastly to sleep.
The gentle tolling on the clock bells rang, quarter past the hour, half past the hour, quarter till the hour then the hour itself.
U.B. set up in bed and looked around the room, nothing came.
Whew it was all a bad dream, thought U.B. and with that he laid back down turned to his side. He closed his eyes but felt a lump behind him in the bed. He rolled over to remove the out of place pillow when he came face to face with a spirit wearing a Pacers basketball cap & a Roger Brown jersey and nothing more .
U.B. jumped from the bed and shouted, who are you?
I am the ghost of Pacers past. Said the spirit.
The far past? asked U.B.
Your past, replied the spirit.
Take me where you will spirit for I am tired, said U.B.
Grab my jersey then, said the spirit.
U.B. looking oddly at him as he realizes that the spirit is only covered by an oversized jersey.
Call me ABAdays, said the spirit, even though you are to young to remember them yourself.
As he takes hold of his jersey, U.B. feels his body lift from the floor & through his roof.
Oddly in the air U.B. hears the sounds of Jerry Baker, Bob Lamy and Mark Boyle calling out play by play from years past.
The snow grows heavy to the point where U.B. cannot see then poof he is in a warm room.
It is his old house. He see's himself sitting before a television as a very young child. On the T.V. are the Pacers and it looks like they are playing the Washington Bullets.
Why have you brought me here ABAdays? Asked U.B. What is there to benefit me here?
These are the memory's of your past, stated ABAdays. These are the times that make a young man who he is in life.
But these days sucked, cried U.B., just look out there. That's Ricky Sobers and Johny Davis. My God that is James Edwards in the middle.
Yes, but remember U.B. this is right after the merger, said ABAdays. The N.B.A. took a heavy toll on the team when they merged leagues and even though they lacked talent you took pride as a young man in the way they played the game.
Yes, it's true said U.B. but I hated the losing so bad.
It got worse didn't it? Asked ABAdays.
Yes, sadly it did said U.B.
With that a mist swirlled about them and they were in another time.
My God is that George Irvin on the sidelines? Asked U.B.
Yes, I'm afraid it is said ABAdays. The team suffered long and hard under the ownership of Sam Nassi but a new ownership has taken over and a new spirit is in the air.
U.B. now sees an older version of himself sitting in M.S.A. the seats are empty and the cutains in the upper deck are drawn closed.
Yet there he is, proudly watching as a young rookie named Chuck Person is taking it to the solid Milwakee Bucks.
The young U.B. is talking to another fan after the game and says "man someday we will be as good as the Bucks are, I can see us winning fourty eight games some day and making the playoffs" The spirit of his youth was spilling over.
A smoke envelopes U.B. and the spirit and again they are in another time.
U.B. finds an older version of himself standing on his feet jumping up and down cheering wildly.
I don't ever recall cheering out loud at M.S.A. said U.B. to ABAdays.
Look closer at the floor, said ABAdays.
Looking down on the floor U.B. sees Reggie Miller jumping in a circle with Dale Davis, Rik Smits & Mark Jackson running to him. He see's Jordan and the rest of the Bulls going to their bench and he realizes that he is at the game where Reggie hit the three with 1 second left on the clock.
A tear wealed up in the eyes of U.B.
What is it? said ABAdays.
Oh I only wish I could have said something to Jay@section222 right now, said U.B. hiding the tear.
He looked on his younger self. He could see the pride that he had from years of watching basketball played the right way.
Again smoke eveloped them and again they were gone.
This time they came back and he saw an older U.B. not one with the lines of age but one in the prime of life. However he could see that some of the joy was gone.
His younger self was sitting at a computer typing. He peeked over his shoulder and saw what he was typing.
Spirit, said U.B., take me away from here I don't want to see anymore.
What troubles you? asked ABAdays could it be what you are typing? With that ABAdays projects the words that the young U.B. is typing on the Pacers digest forum.
Over and over again he kept typing the same thing. Defense wins games, I don't care about statistics, Ron Artest is the perfect basketball player, I'm glad we got rid of Brad Miller because he wasn't worth the money.
No spirit, said U.B., don't make me see the next part.
With a wave of his hand ABAdays projects in big red letters on the wall the words that an older U.B. is typing.
OK, I have waited as long as I can. You knew this was coming, I waited as long as I could, and I freely admit I should wait until Jax and J.O. come back to make this post. But I can't wait any longer. Pacers will not win a championship without Ron Artest. I believe that with all my mind, heart and soul
With that U.B. falls to the ground weeping shouting, take me away take me away.
ABAdays having grown smaller and older in a very short time says, My time is almost up there are still things to be learned on this night and I pray you learn them.
Poof, U.B. was back in his bed. He falls asleep weeping.
Ding Dong Ding Dong sounded the clanging of louder bells.
In the hallway U.B. could see a light and hear a loud sound of music playing in the air.
He made his way to the hallway and opened the door. When he gazed in the room he saw a shing gold light with blue sparkles coming off of it. There were pacemates dancing and there was D.J. Paul B in the corner playing "let's go" by trick daddy.
Are you the next spirit that ABAdays spoke of? Asked U.B. in amazement felling like he was on Mars.
Nah Dawg I'm just part of the posse, he's your man. Said PB777 as he points to the corner of the room where a young kid sets in a corner with a yellow throwback O'Neal #7 jersey and a big yellow hat with a sideways crook.
lol whatup dawg, said the spirit.
Are you the spirit that ABAdays warned me of? asked U.B.
word my brotha, im the ghost of pacers present!!!!!1111!!!! youcan call me JOneal7.
Take me where you will then, I would profit from what you seek to teach me as I have already learened from ABAdays.
grab the rim bro!!1111!!!!! im bout to kick up sum dust, lol said JOneal7.
U.B. hesitantly reaches out & grabs the brim of the spirits ballcap and hold on tight as it twist backwards.
They fly up to the Castleton area. They land at a Pizza King.
Inside there is a party going on. Jay@secton222 is there along with his wife. Jose Slaughter is there and U.B. see's he is studying everybody present. Magicrat is there and U.B. see's what looks like a recording device under his shirt. Roamingnome is there and is in good cheer. Tim is there but is not in a good mood, he is wearing a # 3. Obnoxiouslymodest is arguing with Diamonddave over which is better DS9 or TNG. Doug is there and while nobody is looking he is eating more pizza.
There is joy and good tidings in the room.
At this time Jay steps forward and offers a toast. To Uncle Buck, although he won't have good Pacers pride about himself anymore I say merry christmas to him and a long happy life.
Jay's wife turns to him and says for all of the good a toast will do him.
Jay then says, I will greet him every year and if he finds me in good humor than I say that he will hard pressed to turn me away.
With that the party fades but before it is gone U.B. thinks he sees the image of Suaveness walking into the room announcing some form of trade but he couldn't hear what he said.
U.B. & JOneal7 are flying through the air again now they find them selves barried in snow up past their butts in a small town called New Castle.
Here he they come upon U.B.'s poor clerk Hicks. He is watching old reruns of "space above and beyond" wishing that the new serenity movie would be out.
JOneal7 takes off his cap and sprinkles some dust on Hicks to which Hicks smiles.
Is there some particular blessing in your dandruff? asked U.B.
straight up, said JOneal7.
At this point in time Shade enters the room on crutches.
JOneal7 what is wrong with Shade, asked U.B.
sad dawg, said JOneal7, he's got the fever in his bones. he went to a stuck fern rally and caught it there it's been eating away at him since. lol
Will he make it? asked U.B.
I see an empty chair at the next pacersdigest party if things don't change, said JOneal7 shaiking his head.
They are back in the hallway of his house now and the pacemates and PB777 are gone and only a dimly lit candle lights the room.
JOneal7, said U.B., I don't mean to speak out of place but under your warmups I see two appendages that stick out from behind your legs are they claws?
JOneal7 says, they might as well be claws for all the good they will do. Then from out walk a boy and a girl both drawn and disfigured.
JOneal7 states, the girl is the lottery and the boy is mediocrity but beware the boy the most for he is the downfall of franchises.
Spirit won't a good offense with solid fundamental save them? Asked U.B.
Will there be no fronting the post taught? Will there be no education of how to send two guards back to stop the break? yelled JOneal7 as he faded away.
Uncle Buck was in a ball in the corner by the wall when a light brightly shined on him. The windows opened and a spirit appeard through the curtains.
He pointed a bony cold finger at U.B.
You are the spirit I fear most of all, said U.B. from his fetal postion, for you are the ghost of Pacers future.
The ghost shook his head and in doing so revealed that his face looked strangely like Jose Slaughter. Odd, thought U.B.
Take me where you will spirit, U.B. I have learned my lesson well this night & I would learn what you have to teach me.
U.B. took the spirits cape & away they flew. West they flew far far west landing in the lights and stip of Las Vegas.
Why have you taken me here, asked U.B.?
The spirit pointed behind him to a large arena on the edge of town with a Marque that was just being lit up.
U.B. quickly averted his eyes. No spirit, please tell me what is on the sign for I cannot bare to look. Said U.B.
The spirit stood silently.
Why must you torment me so, cried U.B.
Along the side of the road he saw two young men walking wearing Pacers jersey's.
Well, at the very least the team is closer to watch then in the old days said one to the other.
No spirit please please don't let this be, cried U.B.
The spirit pointed to the Marque.
The sign said the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Las Vegas Pacers.
U.B. screamed with all of his might dropping to the ground to plead with the spirit. No, I've learned my lesson. If fans don't support the team they have then they may have no team at all. Winning is only good if it is done with honor and no one player is above game. I've changed I've changed I've changed.
Ding ding ding ding went the clock.
U.B. opened his eyes. I'm back I've made it.
He jumped out of bed, threw open a window & saw a small boy.
You, young fellow, said U.B. what day is it?
Why it's christmas day, said the boy.
Then I haven't missed it, the spirits did all of their work in one night yelled a joyous Uncle Buck.
He threw off his p.j.'s & dug in his closet finding his Jamaal Tinsley # 11 jersey put on gold and blue warmups then threw on his Pacers jacket he had under the bed and ran out the door.
He drove as fast as he could to Pizza King in castleton.
He opened the door and a silence came over the room. Jay@section222 walked towards him.
Jay, said U.B., I want to come to the party. I want to watch the pacers.
Merry Christmas Uncle Buck Merry Christmas to us all, said Jay.
It was said from that day forward that no man alive kept the spirit of Pacers pride as well as Uncle Buck. He was as good a friend, neighbor and employer as any man alive.
And to young Shade who did not die, he became an older brother to care for him for the rest of his life.
P.S. My apologies to Charles Dickens.