Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads “Basketball Jones” Chapter 14



In chapter 14 of Basketball Jones, I don’t understand how AJ can like a man who is, literally, a little stupid on every inch of his brain mass. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

It’s a common stereotype that athletes are about as smart as sand. Everyone knows that stereotypes are just massive tropes that people sometimes portray in real life, and usually, I don’t like to call judgment on a character until I know him or her. Usually, I study characters in a book just as I would people because I want to know what their dimensions are, and I want to know what’s inside of their head, and I want to know what their dreams, and hopes, and feelings are.

Dray, I can honestly say with conviction, has absolutely no brain cells at all. I don’t think he even has a brain. I believe that the space is used by multiplying hot air particles.

This chapter is a conversation as well, because AJ rushes home to Dray, who frantically called him because they had left another note, this time with Dray’s father’s cell number attached. Hello, Cisco? Anyone? Anyone?

Dray arrives home, and AJ and he have a rather short conversation.

I arrived home to the sounds of Kanye West blasting throughout the house. I expected to meet Dray in the living room, but his sneakers were the only sign that he was somewhere close by. I followed the music upstairs to the bedroom, where Dray was lying shirtless on the bed.

I have no idea who Kanye West is! I wonder if he is a country blues singer. I seriously don’t know who Kanye West is.

Unfortunately, the chapter does not focus on Kanye West. Instead, I’m treated to a wonderfully dense conversation between AJ and Dray.

Dray does not deserve a man like AJ, especially after some of the mean things that Dray says in this chapter that made me utterly furious at Dray while reading their conversation. In fact, I had some time to mull over it, and it’s upsetting me even more because Dray is so not shaping up to be a sweet guy anymore.

When AJ finds that Dray is calmly lying on the bed, with puffy, red eyes I might add, and he’s all cool and collected, AJ is confused. AJ and I wonder why, until AJ asks Dray what’s up because Dray is so calm. As it turns out, Dray has setup a safe account, also known as a BM account. Dray calls it a BM account because it has a lot of money in it, for something such as a woman claiming that Dray had a baby with her.

I don’t understand that, Dray. So you’re telling me that you’d just pay women to make them be quiet? I don’t understand what that account is good for, then, because that’s totally asking for ransom tricks, such as what’s happening now. Dray, how can you be so stupid? I’ve never met a character as dumb as you are. EVER. His manager told him to keep this account, most likely for emergencies, but I don’t think Dray understands what an emergency is.

The two boyfriends bicker back and forth for a bit about who the person is again, even though I’m sure it’s Cisco blackmailing them, and then AJ poses the thought that Dray should just come out and be done with all of this mess. I don’t blame AJ at all for suggesting that. AJ has gone through a world of solitude, and that is not healthy in any relationship, ever! A man is supposed to be just as open and vivacious as he wants to be. Two gay people who are engaged, or close, I believe, should never be on the down low because that just leads to worries and fears and mounting stress. Life would be perfect if Dray were out. They would never have to remember secret codes anymore, they would never have to remember lies they tell people. Everything would be epic and wonderful, so I cheer AJ on here and now! Thank you, AJ, for suggesting this! This needed to be done years ago, but I’m very glad it’s finally happening!

AJ, however, doesn’t understand the magnitude of the situation, so Dray thinks anyway. He thinks that AJ is just this way because he isn’t seeing the career damages that are surely there, but AJ does understand the magnitude of everything.

I sat on the bed and laid my chin on his muscled stomach. “I was worried about you,” I whispered. “What happens to you happens to me too. We’re in this together, and to be honest I’m scared for the both of us.”

Dray seems to flit between stress levels in this chapter because one minute he’s yelling and the next he’s, well, doing this.

He stroked my head. “Don’t worry; I’ll make sure nothing happens to us.” Dray took off the dark glasses to reveal watery, red eyes. He’d obviously been crying.

“So what are you going to do?” I asked.

“I’m going to give them the money,” he said matter-of-factly.

Ah yes, something that I did forget to mention. Dray is giving the money to the person. I am not even sure how they would do it, but he will. What shocks me are the secrets, and the wishing to keep them so. It could be because I am so far-out the closets my clothes tell people how gay I am, but I don’t understand why keep it a secret in the first place. This story takes place in the era of iPhones and the internet, so everyone is more accepting now, so I don’t think coaches and managers will care, just as long as you can play ball. Dray obviously can, play ball that is, since he has done so thus far, and has done so very well.

Dray immediately thought that being bi was a sin, or something really bad, and said no, way back when AJ and he were playing in college together. Surely Dray isn’t THAT dumb, to where he believes that coaches will judge and bereft a player just on the basis of homosexuality?

What infuriates me is there were so many ways that this all could be avoided, and Dray could have been out. When his manager put him on the team he could have just said, after a few good games, yeah, I’m gay.

I feel really sorry that AJ has to be with someone like Dray because AJ is not free, and that kills me. It makes me want to hug AJ forever, and then some, because AJ is not even telling Dray his true feelings. The one I feel sorry for here is AJ, not Dray, because AJ loves an idiot. Here’s proof!

“How did the note arrive?”

“FedEx. Like the first one.”

Don’t packages with FedEx usually have return addresses on the packages? Drey, You SHOULD LOOK FOR A RETURN ADDRESS!

I don’t understand how Drey can be so dumb. I can’t. I’d leave this man in a minute and find a rich black athlete who can deduce that the cat IS stuck in the tree because he CLIMBED up into the tree. Oh, Dray, what would you do without AJ? Seriously, I think you would forget how to eat and drink.

I understand that he’s under a lot of pressure because someone is ripping his world right from under him. Granted, this lie was going to HAVE TO crumble eventually, but it’s happening and Dray is scared. Still, though, Drey is an idiot. I’m sorry but he is a huge idiot.

Did I also mention that Dray is mean in this chapter? I understand that he’s hurt, and he’s frightened, and he’s angry, but AJ is there for him. AJ is there, he’s by Dray’s side, and all Dray can say is stuff like this.

“Are you fucking serious? You want me to tell my father that I like dudes? Tell him that I got a boyfriend that I take good care of? Do you know something about my father that I don’t know?”

I honestly would not be surprised at all if AJ leaves you, Dray. AJ is sitting by your side, holding you, making you feel really good, or trying to, and you say things like this to him? And by the way, if your dad ain’t accepting, then perhaps you shouldn’t have contact with him for a while. Drey, you have the money and the career and the house, so why does your dad matter? This IS STUPID!

Okay, I’ve stopped yelling at Dray, I swear.

My heart just aches for AJ, and I really hope that he manages to go away for a while. He should visit his parents.

Throughout the rest of the chapter, they argue about Dray’s father, with AJ telling Dray if the man isn’t accepting, and/or won’t be, then why bother because you have the job, career, basically everything that I have said above. The chapter ends with Dray stomping out of the house.

I hope AJ leaves, even for a while. I just could not put up with a man like Dray, but that’s possibly because I don’t see the appeal of being on the down low. I don’t see the good in it at all. I hope AJ realizes what he’s gotten himself into now, because this wild ride definitely will not stop.

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