On October 20, 2015, the Los Angeles Lakers inexplicably cut their future superstar Robert Upshaw. With a standing reach of 9’5” and a seven and a half foot wingspan, the 7’0” center was primed to take the league by storm with his defensive prowess and absurd shot blocking skills. Had he made the team, he would have started out as the Lakers’ third big, likely spending a lot of time with the D-Fenders and also getting valuable tutelage underneath defensive stalwart Roy Hibbert. But we all know that he would have forced Byron Scott’s hand eventually. By season’s end, Upshaw could have taken Hibbert’s spot in the rotation and led this team on a surprising run for glory.
Unfortunately, none of this will happen now. The Lakers are left with the other Robert, that insufferable Sacre fellow who hasn’t shown an ounce of improvement since being drafted with the final pick in the 2012 draft. Thanks, Byron. But there is still hope. The man who will now be Roy Hibbert’s backup, Tarik Black, can attempt to fill in the black hole in the rotation that was left by the waiving of Robert Upshaw. Sure, his upside might not be as enormous as Big Block Bob’s…Or is it? Lucky for you, I have recently stumbled upon a portal to the future. I could have leaped forward to any time period post 2015. Where did I decide to go? That’s right. Summer of 2016, the week after the NBA finals concluded. I had to know how this upcoming season would turn out. The following is one hundred percent accurate, according to what I learned on my journey.
Tarik Black had grown bigger than LeBron in his one year as a superstar. In popularity, success, and also size. For every dime that he made on the court, he grew half an inch. Every time he dunked, a fan in the crowd spontaneously combusted. You’d think the other fans would have been terrified, but they loved it. Each of them wanted to be the one who burned for Tarik Black. By season’s end, Tarik was a towering behemoth on the court (although he finally reached his height capacity of twelve feet, seven inches) and even larger off of it. He stole Beyoncé from Jay-Z and Taylor Swift wrote songs about him even though they were never a thing. Through all that insanity, he never lost his way. Boom Boom remained faithful to the Man Upstairs and patiently waited for the day that he could ascend to the heavens to meet the King of Pop. In game four of the 2016 NBA finals, Tarik put up a quintuple-double, recording 57 points, 37 assists, 98 rebounds, 12 steals, and 83 blocks. The Lakers swept the Cavaliers for their 17th NBA title. Tarik took home the Bill Russell MVP trophy and placed it in a glass case beside the bed that he shared with Beyoncé. While his teammates were out celebrating, downing champagne by the bottle, Tarik was at home in his sitting room, the one with the vaulted ceilings. Then again, they all had vaulted ceilings. Queen Bey was sitting on his lap. She knew that something wasn’t right. Her man should be ecstatic, he should be out partying with his brothers in arms after they had just shut out LeBron James’s Cavaliers in a Finals clinching game.
“It’s not enough, Bey,” Tarik said.
“What more could you want, babe? You’re on top of the world now.”
“I know I am. I have become the most dominant force that the basketball world has ever seen. But something just doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel fulfilled.”
“Not fulfilled? Am I not enou-”
“It’s not you, Bey. It’s me.”
Tarik stood up and stepped over to the window with the breathtaking mountain view. As he looked out at the empire that he had inherited over the past year, his eyes were drawn to a single bird perched in a branch of the tree that sat outside the window.
“Boom Boom”, the bird seemed to call to him.
“It’s time. It’s time to go home.”
“Home? This is my home now,” Tarik said.
“No, Tarik. It’s time to go HOME.” The bird transformed before Tarik’s eyes, becoming first a vision of Byron Scott, then Magic Johnson, before finally settling into the shape of Michael Jackson. “Go home, Boom Boom,” said the Michael Jackson bird. “You have accomplished all that you needed to in this world. It is time to return home.”
“Thriller…My 37 assists tonight were a sign!” Tarik’s eyes lit up. He turned and faced Beyoncé, who was beginning to think that her new man was insane.
“Bey, it’s time for Boom Boom to go home.”
“What do you mean home? Back to Memphis?”
“No, Bey. A place much greater than Memphis. A place with streets paved of sapphire and buildings lined with rubies. A place where no man or woman can ever feel like anything less. There is no black and white. There is no Donald Trump, no Hillary Clinton, no LeBron James. There is only…Thriller. And us, if you choose to join me.”
Beyoncé hesitated, but then she grabbed Tarik’s hand. “I’m with you, baby. I have no idea what you’re talking about, but the place you just described…I feel like girls really could run that world.”
“No, Bey. That world already has its ruler.”
Tarik clenched Beyonce’s hand as tight as possible in order to prevent any attempt at an escape and bent his knees, preparing for lift off.
“BOOM BOOM!” he cried at the top of his lungs as he propelled himself upward, through the vaulted ceiling of his multimillion dollar home and toward the heavens. As the troposphere gave way to the stratosphere, Tarik Black lost consciousness. Beyoncé was already long gone.
“Boom Boom, wake up.”
Tarik slowly opened his eyes to a world dominated by the color white. “Where am I?” he said, after taking a few seconds to let his eyes adjust to the brightness.
“You’re in heaven, Boom Boom. I’m so glad we could finally meet.”
A hand reached down out of the blinding whiteness to help pull Tarik to his feet. It was Beyoncé. He was so glad that she had made it. He heard a subtle cough behind him, presumably the same person that had been his welcoming party to this wondrous world.
Tarik slowly turned around. “No way, Michael Jackson! It really was you!”
It was indeed the King of Pop that stood before him, dressed in his garb from the Thriller video. “Of course it’s me, Boom Boom. I’ve always been by your side. I see you found the Queen of Pop, too.”
“Come on then, let me give you a tour of the place!” Michael said. He held out his hands, one for Tarik and one for Beyoncé. The trio walked hand in hand into the city of pearls that opened up before them. “Now this feels right,” Tarik said. “This feels like home.”
Obviously, I found my way home through the time portal. No, I didn’t experience Tarik’s story personally, but I thought that writing it in this format would be the best way to inform you all of how it will go down. Learning all of this has gotten me so psyched for the upcoming season. Yeah, they might have made a colossal mistake in cutting Robert Upshaw, but stay calm Lakers fans: we still have Tarik Black. And you haven’t seen anything yet.