Every time Lucas closes his eyes, the scene plays out like a YouTube video imprinted on his brainwaves:
Shimmy gets the ball in the corner, down by a point. Four seconds left on the clock. There’s a defender in his face. No way can a four-foot-eleven point guard shoot over him. Shimmy’s trapped. Three seconds now … there it is, the trademark shimmy! He head-fakes to the left while moving to the right. A gasp threatens to suck all the air out of the gym as his high-top comes down millimeters – no, what’s smaller than millimeters? – from the out-of-bounds line. The silence of the referee’s whistle not blowing is the loudest sound Lucas can remember.
Two seconds. The pass is on its way. Lucas snatches it out of the air at the top of the key. He charges into the paint. A big body blocks his way, appearing as if by black magic.
Wham! Collision. But – no foul. The ref is going to let this play out.
One second left. A game clock loaded with twenty-four hundred heartbeats has run down to this ultimate tick. Defenders can be beaten, but not time itself. No chance to put the ball on the floor, no move to the left or right. There’s only one option, one direction –
Lucas isn’t much of a leaper, but in that instant, his legs are super-powered by the screams of the crowd and all the desperation of the final second of the championship game. He springs, feeling the air beneath him – more air than he can ever recall before. The ball leaves his hands a split second before the buzzer sounds. He’s so panicked by the prospect of a block that he gets off a clumsy shot with an awkward high trajectory. The defender swipes at it, fingertips passing barely a half-inch below.
Lucas waits for the swish, prays for it …
The clunk of the ball against the back of the rim resounds like a bomb blast. The shot ricochets high – weirdly high. For an instant, it’s frozen there, level with the top of the backboard. Then it drops like a stone through the hoop, snapping the net.
Final score: 43-42 for the Hollow Log Middle School Hammers, city champions.
Pandemonium. Insanity. Great, great joy.
At this point, Lucas’s vision begins to blur. The team is in a raucous, disorganized huddle, bouncing up and down as ecstatic spectators rush the floor. Kids are actually crying – or is that the parents? Maybe it’s Coach Skillicorn who’s crying – this is his first championship in twenty-seven years of coaching.
One memory that’s crystal clear is the trophy – the Interboro Cup. Four gleaming Winged Victory figures holding up a golden basketball. The only thing more beautiful than the cup itself is what it represents – the best sixth-grade basketball team out of every middle school in the entire city.
Even now, weeks later, as Lucas and Shimmy pass the gym on the way to their lockers, they always glance to the left, treating their eyes to the sight of …
The pair freezes. The display case stands open. The Interboro Cup is nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s the trophy?” Shimmy demands.
“Relax,” Lucas soothes. “There could be a million totally normal reasons why it isn’t there.”
“Like they sent it out be polished. Or engraved. Maybe we’re going to get our names on it.”
Shimmy is unimpressed. His real name is James Tracey Abandando. James = Jimmy = Shimmy.
At that moment, Coach Skillicorn steps out of the athletic office. Right away, the boys can see that something is wrong. Coach has been a changed man since the big win – taller, confident. Now he seems changed back again – hunched, nervous, gray in the face. “Do you two know anything about this terrible crime?”
“You mean the trophy?” Lucas asks. “Are you sure someone didn’t just take it out to shine it up or something?”
Coach shakes his head sadly. “There’s clear evidence that the lock has been picked. It’s a theft. No question about it.”
Lucas is bewildered. “But who would want to steal our trophy?”
Shimmy stares at him. “What are you talking about, man? It’s the trophy! It’s the most valuable thing in our school!”
“It’s valuable to us because we won it,” Lucas insists. “To anybody else it’s just a metal statue on a block of wood.” He turns to the coach. “What do the police say?”
“We haven’t called them yet,” Skillicorn replies. “Principal Updike thinks it’s just a prank pulled by somebody here.” He sighs. “I hope he’s right.”
Sure enough, right at the beginning of homeroom, Dr. Updike comes on the PA system: “Attention, students. Someone has removed the Interboro Cup from the display case outside the gymnasium. To that person, I say perhaps you thought this was a fine joke, but I’ll have you know that the rest of us are not amused. We are all very proud of our sixth-grade basketball team, which has reached a level of excellence never before achieved in the history of Hollow Log Middle School. You have until the end of the day to return the trophy to its place, and no names will be taken, and no questions asked. I trust you to do the right thing.”
Shimmy leans over to Lucas. “You know, Updike may have a PhD, but he sure isn’t very smart. If you went to all the trouble to swipe the greatest trophy in the history of the world, would you give it back just because some principal says you won’t get in trouble?”
“I’ll bet it was one of the eighth graders,” grumbles Obert Marcus – power forward – known as O-Mark on the team. “Those guys think they rule the school. They can’t stand anybody else getting attention.”
Shimmy stays on message. “They have to call the cops. Only police have the power to break into lockers and search the whole building.”
“No matter what happens to the cup,” Lucas reasons, “we’re still champions. No one can take that away from us.”
Shimmy isn’t buying it. “And how do you prove that to people? By showing them your trophy!”
As the day progresses, Lucas, Shimmy, and all the Hammers find reason after reason to stop by the gym and keep an eye on the display case. The space where the trophy sat yawns a little wider every time.
“The trophy’s just a symbol,” Lucas repeats. But he’s lying, even to himself, and everybody knows it. The kid who hit the winning shot wants the Interboro Cup back more than any of them – except possibly Coach Skillicorn, who has left school early, due to “a migraine.” By the 3:30 bell, Coach has sent his team members six text messages encouraging them not to despair. Each one sounds more despairing than the last.
Lucas passes by the gym on his way out of the building. The case is still empty.
When Lucas picks up the phone, Max Tehrani – shooting guard and team captain – is on the other end. “You’d better see this. Get over here.”
By the time he makes it to Max’s, the whole team is there, crowded around the Tehranis’ computer. He catches a tragic look from Shimmy, but before he can ask, the captain begins his explanation.
“When I got back from school, this was posted on my Facebook wall.” Max pounds the keyboard and the image grows until it’s practically full-screen.
The boys stare. The picture is distorted by blurry patches, but there’s no question that they’re looking at four Winged Victory figures hoisting a golden ball – the Interboro Cup.
“Our trophy!” Shimmy exclaims in anguish.
The photograph is a close-up, with the pedestal of the cup out of view, so it’s impossible to see what the base is resting on. A dark, indistinct form runs across the top of the frame.
“It’s under some kind of roof,” Lucas observes.
“Or an awning,” Max agrees. “And that pole in the background could be a support for it.”
A four-word message accompanies the picture, in block capital letters.
COME AND GET ME!!!!
“Come and get me where?” Shimmy explodes.
Jeff Leventhal – small forward – has a practical question. “Who took the picture? Find the sender and you’ve found the trophy.”
Max shakes his head sadly and scrolls to the far margin. Under “posted by” is:
“Cute,” mumbles O-Mark.
“It’s not cute,” Shimmy moans in true pain. “Don’t you get it? This is like a ransom note for trophies! It’s like saying: ‘We have the Interboro Cup. If you ever want to see it again, put a million dollars in a Walgreens bag and drop it in the trash can at 71st and Kissena.”
“It doesn’t mention anything about money,” Jeff reminds him. “It just says ‘come and get me.’”
Lucas is still peering at the screen as if trying to will a set of GPS coordinates to appear at the top of the photograph. “Wait a minute. What’s all this stuff in the background?”
Max, who’s good with computers, sections off a square from the top right corner of the picture and blows it up. Frowning, he imports the image to a photo-enhancement program. As he skillfully clicks on various controls, the picture gradually becomes more distinct.
Shimmy is bewildered. “It’s just a row of stores.”
“No,” Lucas amends. “It’s a row of stores behind the spot where they stashed our trophy.” His eyes fall on a dark sign with orange lettering:
A moment later, the address is on the screen: 224A Sterling Avenue, West Hook.
“That has to be the place,” he decides. “No way are there two restaurants in town called Epic Jerk.”
“So what happens now?” O-Mark asks. “We call Coach and he goes to the cops?”
Lucas shakes his head. “No cops. No adults, period. By the time they’re done making inquiries, whoever took the cup will move it to the toilet tank in his sub-basement. It’s our trophy; we have to get it ourselves.”
“West Hook is all the way on the other side of town!” Jeff protests.
“There’s such a thing as buses, you know,” Shimmy informs him. “Nobody’s going to make you travel by pogo-stick.”
Max has a practical concern. “Even if we can get to the restaurant, that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to find the trophy from there. Come to think of it, there’s no guarantee that the trophy’s still in the spot where the picture was taken.”
Lucas takes a deep breath. “I know. But right now it’s all we’ve got to go on.”
The trophy is just a symbol …
They’re his own words, but Lucas struggles to believe them. Sure, the Interboro Cup isn’t what makes them champions. Its absence from the case outside the gym doesn’t change what happened in the sixth-grade tournament.
You don’t cross the city on two buses and a subway for a symbol – not even the symbol of the greatest thing you’ve ever done.
And that doesn’t even take into account how weird all this is. Who kidnaps a trophy? He knows he’s letting his imagination get the better of him, yet heading off into the total unknown has to carry a certain amount of danger. Surely the guys see that too. Why else the reluctance of some of them to go along with this?
He shakes his head to clear it. No trophy can make you a champion. But what champion won’t man up and take back his prize?
There’s a decent turnout at the bus stop. The starting five – Lucas, Shimmy, O-Mark, Jeff, and Max – plus Dalton Chen, the shrimp of the team, but with a scorching outside jump shot. Also – Lucas’s eyes fall on a tiny red-haired girl hugging a ratty plush bunny that’s been through countless laundry cycles. The kid is Ariella, Max’s six-year-old sister.
Lucas wheels on Max. “What’s she doing here?”
The Hammers’ captain shrugs miserably. “My parents both work Saturdays. I have to babysit, no getting out of it.”
“Yeah, but does she need to bring the toy?” Shimmy asks in annoyance.
“Mr. Fluffernutter is not a toy; he’s an elderly rabbit gentleman,” Ariella says defiantly.
“I’m stuck,” Max explains. “If I make her leave the rodent, she’ll rat me out to our folks. I assume I’m not the only one who wasn’t totally honest about what we’re doing today.”
A chorus of nods greets this announcement, along with an accounting of the various excuses, half-truths, white lies, and outright whoppers the boys cooked up to explain what will surely be an errand that takes a good chunk of the day.
At last, the bus pulls up to the curb and the Hollow Log Hammers file aboard, sister and Mr. Fluffernutter in tow.
On the ride to the subway station, Shimmy brings up the question that’s on everybody’s lips. “Do you think we’re going to run into the low-down sleazoid who ripped off our trophy?”
“We have to be ready for anything,” Lucas replies. “Remember the Facebook message – it said ‘come and get me.’ If that’s not a challenge, I don’t know what is.”
“But we don’t know anybody in West Hook,” Jeff protests. “And why would anybody in West Hook know us?”
“The tournament covers the whole city,” Dalton points out. “Could these be the guys we beat in the final?”
Max shakes his head. “That team was from Sunnyside.”
“Maybe they stole the trophy and took it over to West Hook just to mess with our heads,” Shimmy suggests.
Lucas looks impatient. “It doesn’t matter. We’ll find out when we get there, and we’ll deal with whatever we have to.”
“Are we there yet?” queries Ariella in a whiny tone. “Mr. Fluffernutter wants to go home.” Which means Ariella wants to go home.
“Mr. Fluffernutter is in for a long day,” her brother tells her unkindly.
They get off the bus at the subway station and descend two long staircases down to the trains. The westbound platform is wall-to-wall people. It’s a physical effort for the teammates to stay together. Max keeps an iron grip on his sister’s arm.
“You’re hurting Mr. Fluffernutter,” she complains.
“He’ll get over it,” Max growls. “He’s a rabbit, for crying out loud.”
The train is even more packed than the station. Lucas can’t reach a pole or a handle. But it’s okay, because it’s impossible to fall when you’re packed in like a sardine. The other Hammers are similarly squashed at various places around the car.
As they clatter through the darkness of the tunnel, Lucas concentrates on the station names. The last thing they want to do is miss their stop. He’s trying to decipher the subway map, when, out of the corner of his eye, he spies a white rabbit exiting the train attached to the Velcro strap on a man’s cellphone pouch.
A shriek cuts the air. “Mr. Fluffernutter!!!”
Ariella snakes across the car and out the door in pursuit of her beloved toy.
“Ariella! Come back!” Max is struggling to follow, but he’s too hemmed in. He’s not going to make it.
The tone sounds. The doors begin to close.
“Awwww –” Lucas jams his way through, and hits the platform running. At a level of athleticism that matches his winning basket, he grabs Ariella with one hand, and with the other, snatches the rabbit off the man’s belt. Then he wheels on a dime and sprints back for the car.
The last thing Lucas sees as the train moves on into the tunnel is the terrified faces of his teammates pressed against the windows, staring out at him through the smeared glass.
Shimmy holds his hand over the mouthpiece of his cellphone. “It’s okay. They’re on the next train. They’ll be here any minute.”
The sighs of relief move the air. The five remaining Hammers sit in the back of the T-19 bus, which is parked in the station, waiting to begin its route to West Hook. Max’s sigh is the biggest of all. Recovering the trophy is optional; recovering Ariella is mandatory.
“Did they rescue Mr. Fluffernutter?” Dalton asks anxiously.
“What do you care?” Shimmy explodes. “He’s the reason we’re in this whole mess! He’s a rabbit – and he isn’t even a real rabbit!”
“Look, here they come!” O-Mark exclaims suddenly, pointing back at the station.
Out of the darkness, a larger figure, a smaller one, and a bouncing white blob are running full-tilt for the bus.
“They made it!” Max cheers.
No sooner have the words passed his lips than the doors close, the gears grind, and the bus is moving off down the street.
“Wait!” Shimmy howls. “Our friends are back there!”
“Got a schedule, kid,” the driver tosses over his shoulder. “If I’m late, it’s a mark against me.”
No amount of begging or pleading makes any difference.
The group passes the trip in silence. The sole exception is Shimmy, who updates his teammates on the increasingly agitated text messages from Lucas back at the station, waiting for the next T-19 bus. The others have their eyes out the window, watching for Sterling Avenue. West Hook is a lot older than their part of town, the ancient, fading signs difficult to read.
Suddenly, Jeff is on his feet, pointing and shouting. “Look – it’s the restaurant! From the Facebook picture!”
Max squints at the orange lettering. EPIC JERK. He pulls the cord, and the five Hammers get off. There’s an awkward moment as they stand on the corner, watching the bus drive away. The triumph of reaching their destination fades quickly. Finding the restaurant and finding the trophy are two different matters. All they know for certain is that Epic Jerk is visible from wherever the trophy was when the photograph was taken.
“So,” rumbles O-Mark in his deep voice, “what happens now?”
Max looks thoughtful. “For the restaurant to show up in the background, the trophy would have to be –” He swings around to face the park across the street – “there.”
It’s a smallish square, taking up six city blocks, with pathways and benches organized around a central fountain.
“Remember the picture,” Dalton advises. “There was a roof, or some kind of cover, with a support pole in back.”
“We’ll scour the place,” Max decides. “Every inch. If our trophy’s here, we’ll find it.”
In a third-floor apartment on Sterling Avenue, a very large twelve-year-old boy gazes out his window at the park below. He picks up a cellphone and speed-dials a number.
“Yeah?” comes a sharp piercing voice.
“They’re here,” says the boy.
“Really? Are you sure?”
He squints down through the glass, watching the Hollow Log Hammers exploring the square. “Get the gang together. It’s time.”
“What do you mean, it isn’t there?” Lucas rasps into the handset, racing along Sterling Avenue, dragging Ariella by the hand.
“Mr. Fluffernutter can’t go any further,” the little girl complains.
“We searched the whole park,” comes Shimmy’s voice over the phone. “We even went through the bushes. They must’ve moved the trophy after they took the picture. Where are you, man? We’ve been here, like, forever!”
“We missed our bus,” Lucas replies savagely, “because ‘Mr. Fluffernutter’ had to go to the bathroom –”
“He’s only human,” Ariella sulks.
“ – so we ran like crazy, but the bus we got on turned out to be a T-18 not a T-19 – wait! I think I see you guys!” Squeezing the girl’s wrist, which makes her cry out, Lucas turns on the jets. They sprint past Epic Jerk and into the park to their companions.
Overcome with relief, Max enfolds his sister in a bear hug. She pulls back and boots him savagely in the shin.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“You’re supposed to take care of me!” she rages. “If I get lost, where does that leave Mr. Fluffernutter?”
“He was lost with you!” Max tries to defend himself.
Shimmy approaches Lucas. “What are we going to do, man? There’s no trophy here. I’m starting to think we came all this way for nothing!”
Lucas looks desperately around the square. There are not a lot of potential hiding places. It’s a small park, with a kids’ playground, a basketball court, a dog run, and a handful of paved paths and benches, arranged around the fountain in the middle –
And then he catches a glint of gold.
At the center of the fountain, atop a granite pedestal, is a wrought-iron sculpture of two young children standing under an umbrella. The “rain” is provided by a ring of jets around the circumference. And there, balanced on the spot where the figures’ hands come together, sits the Interboro Cup.
“Guys –” Lucas points. It’s all making sense. In the Facebook photograph, what appears to be a roof is actually the umbrella; the pole is its handle. The blurry spots are caused by the cascading water. And, far in the background, the clue that brought them here – Epic Jerk.
“Our trophy!” exclaims Shimmy, leading the stampede to the fountain.
“Yeah, but how are we going to get it?” Jeff wonders. “We’ll drown!”
Lucas doesn’t care. He kicks off his shoes and socks, rolls up his pants, and steps over the edge, disappearing almost to the knees in the cold clammy pool. The chill makes him laugh with sheer delight. “Come on, guys. What’s a little water compared with the blood and sweat that went into winning this thing?”
Footwear flies, and all six Hammers are in the fountain in less than thirty seconds.
“Boys are crazy,” comments Ariella from the sidelines. “Oh, I don’t mean you, Mr. Fluffernutter. You’re not a boy; you’re an elderly rabbit gentleman.”
Rescuing the trophy turns out to be a major operation. Max and Lucas form the base of the pyramid, with Shimmy on their shoulders. He, in turn, boosts Dalton to the top of the pedestal. There are a few scary moments, since the polished stone is wet and slippery. But soon the whooping Hollow Log Hammers are splashing their way out of the fountain in a flurry of dripping high-fives, surrounding Max, their triumphant captain, who holds their trophy aloft in the brilliant sky. It’s a good thing the spring weather is warm, or their next stop would be the hospital to treat six cases of hypothermia. They are drenched yet jubilant. The Interboro Cup is once again with its owners, and all’s right with the world.
“Let’s get back to the bus stop,” Shimmy exhorts his teammates. “The sooner we blow this Popsicle stand and get home, the better.”
“Not so fast,” comes a deep voice.
For the first time, the Hammers look around. Seven boys have appeared almost out of nowhere, and now stand facing them. They don’t seem threatening. But they don’t look friendly either.
Lucas puts two and two together. “You’re the guys who stole our trophy!”
A sandy-haired boy who’s almost a single extended freckle nods solemnly. “Or maybe you’re the guys who stole our trophy,” he says in a high-pitched, piercing tone.
Shimmy bristles. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We’re the Revere Raiders –” Freckle begins.
Light downs on Lucas. Revere Middle School is a city powerhouse in basketball. In the tournament, it was a major relief when the Raiders were eliminated in the semi-final, by Sunnyside, the Hammers’ opponent in the championship game. “So how’s it your trophy?” he asks. “You guys got knocked out.”
A huge kid, at least a head taller than Lucas, pipes up, “We got shafted.”
Freckle explains. “Meet Igor, best sixth-grader in the city. We would have crushed Sunnyside with him.”
“So why didn’t you?” O-Mark growls.
“Academically ineligible,” mourns Igor in a voice even deeper than O-mark’s rumble. “Got an incomplete in Social Studies.”
“That’s your problem,” Shimmy accuses. “Staying eligible’s part of the game.”
“Had mono last semester,” the big boy admits sadly. “My teacher wouldn’t cut me any slack.”
Lucas’s anger evaporates in an instant. Winning the tournament was the greatest feeling ever. To be robbed of a shot at that by a tough break had to hurt.
Even Shimmy finds some sympathy for the Raiders. “Man, that’s rough.”
There’s general agreement among the Hammers. “But why blame us?” Max asks. “We didn’t flunk Igor; his teacher did.”
“We’re not blaming you,” Freckle explains. “You won; we accept that. But we weren’t in that tournament – not the real us.”
“What are you trying to say?” Lucas demands.
Freckle shrugs. “Well – we’re here, and you’re here, and the trophy’s here …”
It isn’t a fair fight and the boys from Hollow Log know it. First of all, neither team has its full complement of players. Second, the Hammers are soaked to the skin and exhausted from the adventures of the day. And third –
“Why should we have to play a bunch of trophy-stealers to win the trophy we already won?” Shimmy complains.
“The trophy’s not important –” Lucas begins.
“That’s not what you said when you made us wade through Niagara Falls to get it,” Jeff puts in sourly.
“The Raiders have a point,” insists Lucas.
“They’re not exactly boy scouts, you know,” Max observes. “They crossed the whole city, walked into Hollow Log, and walked out with the Interboro Cup.”
Lucas holds up his hands. “Listen – what does that trophy mean if we only won because that Igor kid couldn’t play? Is that the kind of champions you want to be – a team that only made good because of somebody else’s rotten luck?”
“I can’t jump in wet jeans,” Dalton complains.
Shimmy smiles in spite of himself. “You can’t jump, period. It never stopped you before.”
Jeff asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind. “What if we lose?”
“We won’t,” Lucas says confidently. “We’re the Hollow Log Hammers. We rocked the tournament, and we’ll rock West Hook too.”
The court is concrete instead of hardwood. The baskets are made of chain not mesh, so a swish sounds more like a clank. There are no referees, and only three substitutes between the two teams. The audience consists of a six-year-old girl and a stuffed rabbit. The Interboro Cup stands by the out-of-bounds line, as if watching the contest that will decide its fate.
The Raiders run off the first three baskets, but Hollow Log recovers quickly, closing the gap to two points. The teams are evenly matched, with Igor’s bulk controlling the middle, but Dalton’s outside jumpers keeping the Hammers close. Shimmy uses his quickness to slice through Revere’s zone defense, and soon the Hammers have a narrow lead. Lucas can’t shoot over Igor, but finally manages to submarine past the big boy and lay the ball in off the backboard. Another Raider sinks back-to-back ten footers, and the teams are tied at sixteen.
Freckle is impressed. “Maybe you chumps really are champs!”
“Sunnyside was lucky to get past you guys,” Lucas admits, panting.
“Mr. Fluffernutter’s bored,” is the audience’s opinion.
By this time, the Hammers have forgotten their bus woes and wet clothes. They haven’t faced this kind of competition since the championship game. Revere pulls ahead, but Hollow Log roars back, scoring on five straight possessions. A heated argument over an alleged foul evaporates when O-Mark knocks down the longest jump shot any of them have ever seen. Not to be outdone, big Igor rips the ball out of Jeff’s hands and comes amazingly close to dunking it – another vertical inch or two is all he would have needed. By now they’ve been playing for a solid hour, the score knotted at 36 … or is it 38?
A light rain begins, waking Ariella, who’s fallen asleep on a bench, using her stuffed toy as a pillow. The Raiders and Hammers are just getting started. A second hour falls away like nothing. Hollow Log leads 74-72 … or maybe 72-70. But a disputed basket from about half an hour ago means it’s possible the two teams are actually tied again. It’s hard to keep track of the score, Lucas reflects, when the action is so intense; when you’re running your hardest, and jumping your highest, and every gasping breath comes out of your lungs in a ball of fire; when you’re having this much fun.
They are well into their third hour when both teams’ cell phones begin ringing. Soon their game is being set to music amid a chorus of electronic tones. The boys ignore it as long as they can, but it’s starting to get dark …
Suddenly, Shimmy points. “The bus!”
No one wants to leave. But if you miss a bus on a Saturday night, who knows when the next one will be along?
The Hammers grab Ariella and Mr. Fluffernutter and fly – but not before Lucas and Freckle exchange numbers on their phones. This game isn’t over yet! And besides, nobody remembers the score …
Whatever. They’ll settle it next week on Hollow Log’s home turf.
Lucas can hardly wait.
Shimmy slaps him a high-five as they take their seats. “That was awesome! Man, we’re some beasts to keep up with those guys!”
There is general agreement, except from Ariella. “Mr. Fluffernutter’s telling!” she promises her brother.
Max is flushed with a mix of exhaustion and happiness. “Go ahead. I don’t care. Today was worth getting in trouble!”
The bus pulls away. The Hammers peer out the window, watching their new friends and rivals heading for home.
In the shadowy darkness of the park, a lone object stands at the edge of the court, utterly forgotten. Its shape is four Winged Victory figures holding up a golden basketball.
The Interboro Cup.