No Protection Tonight

 

Chapter 25: A Rising Star (Part 2)

 

The referee turned around. Upon sight of the man, he greeted courteously, “Coach Sun, why’d you come here?”

“What’s wrong with you? Why are you stopping the match?” Coach Sun asked unhappily.

“Whoa, is that Sun Jianfei?” A nearby classmate cried excitedly.

“What Sun Jianfei?” The girls looked confused.

“It’s normal that you don’t recognize him, but you at least know Yi Jianlian and Yao Ming, right? They were both trained and brought up by him!” *

*I’m not sure if you guys know Yi Jianlian, but I’m sure a lot of people know Yao Ming. They’re both real basketball players, with Yi Jianlian playing in the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007 and Yao Ming in the Houston Rockets for nearly a decade. However, the coach here (Sun Jianfei) is fictional.

My heart thumped, and I knew why he looked so familiar. His face popped up very often back when I watched basketball, but I didn’t make the connection.

“This student broke the rules, he fractured another player’s leg.” The referee explained, though his voice was a little shaky.

“Hehe, he fell by himself, what does it have to do with me?” I snorted. The referee ordered me to keep quiet.

Coach Sun looked doubtful, and walked past. The referee glared at the “injured” player, who immediately started to holler in pain.

“Coach Sun, I’m your loyal fan, you’ve gotta be on my side, here.” He moaned between grunts of ache.

The coach stayed silent, and stuck a cigarette in his mouth while taking out a lighter.

However, he didn’t light his cig, and instead put the flame near the player’s pants. In no time, he started to feel that something was wrong, and jumped up with a howl. He sprinted to the water fountain with his ass on fire.

“Hey, you stinking old man, what are you doing?”

“How could you do that to my idol?”

The girls didn’t like what the coach did.

But Sun Jianfei didn’t get angry, and chuckled in amusement. “Little Zhang*, didn’t you say that his leg was broken? How is he up and leaping all of a sudden?”

“Hah?” His words shook the audience, and the referee looked stunned.

“Uhm, it might’ve been a mistake in judgment.” Referee Zhang refused to admit his mistake.

Sun Jianfei’s face stiffened, and he walked briskly up to him. Two heavy slaps slammed into the referee’s face.

“You motherf**ker, are you still not going to confess your crime?” Sun Jianfei kept swearing like an old drunk villager. I had heard before that his temper wasn’t something to be trifled with, and today, the rumors proved themselves to be true.

“Ah, Coach Sun, I’m terribly sorry. The student over there bribed me, and promised that he’d give me half of the prize money.”  The referee couldn’t withstand Coach Sun’s authority, and blabbered about what had happened.

“Hmph, you’re really a f**king piece of work. If I hadn’t seen the live video of this match, your stupidity would’ve buried a prodigy!” Coach Sun shouted.

It was rather ironic. Some students had broadcasted live videos to try capture our failure, but they ended up helping us instead.

“Coach Sun, it, it can’t be that serious. He’s just a student.” The referee’s face was pale.

“Do you think that I’m joking? Only students can have potential like this. Yi and Ming didn’t even have talent comparable to his, and with a little training, he would definitely become a rising star!” Coach Sun shook his head. The referee kept apologizing profusely, but the coach looked in my direction. “The one you’re supposed to apologize is over th-”

His incessant praise was getting annoying. I interrupted him and said, “Hey, I didn’t ask for anything. Someone like you isn’t fit to be a coach.”

“Aha, kid, you’ve got some spunk. I respect that.” Coach Sun laughed. “Zhang, I’ll talk to the province basketball association later, you can start figuring out what your next job will be. Don’t meddle with other people’s disciples again.”

The referee’s eyes rolled from anger, and he fainted on the spot. Some of the other players quickly lifted him up like a hunk of roadkill and left the court.

Coach Sun’s eyes glimmered, and he said, “It’s a wonder that a kid as young as you has this much talent. Are you interested in playing some ball with this old-timer here?”*

*No Protection Tonight is not a sports novel.