Author’s Note: Otto Erotica is a series of Syracuse sports fan fiction. When I can’t sleep at night, these are the things I fantasize about…
“Imagine a world where Carmelo decided to come back to Syracuse for his sophomore season…”
Greg shrugs dismissively. “Yeah, that would’ve been great, I guess,” he says with all the enthusiasm of DePaul fan talking about the team’s prospects for the upcoming Big East season. I need him to try a little harder, to really imagine what life would be like if Carmelo had returned for one more year—so I threaten to dunk on him like Jonny Flynn did to Mike Rosario, if he doesn’t heed my request. Terrified of that kind of humiliation, Greg shuts his eyes, starts to concentrate, and a smile slowly forms on his face. “We might’ve won back to back national championships,” he says like Jim Calhoun picturing a world where there’s no such thing as APR postseason bans.
“We did win back to back championships,” I correct him, “or at least we will once we travel back in time and make things right.” Now Greg looks downright befuddled, like Tim Higgins trying to comprehend what the restricted area underneath the hoop is for. He has no idea what I’m talking about, so I show him my time machine. Yeah, that’s right, my time machine! And it’s pretty boss if I do say so myself.
Greg seems less impressed. “Time machine? It looks an awful lot like your 2004 Ford Focus hatchback,” he tells me with the bluntness of Jim Boeheim responding to a question from a Daily Orange reporter about why he didn’t switch to a man-to-man defense. Of course it looks like my 2004 Ford Focus, because it is my 2004 Ford Focus, with a few alterations. It’s amazing what you can do with a roll of duct tape and a bunch of plutonium that you stole from some Libyan terrorists who were trying to beat the Carousel Mall crowds by hitting up Shoppingtown. Greg doesn’t think there’s a chance in hell that it will work, but I ask him to try and be a little less pessimistic than the average syracuse.com message board poster, and after a little more gentle coaxing, Greg agrees to give it a try.
Ignoring the hazards of disrupting the space-time continuum like a West Virginia student ignores personal hygiene and periodic dental exams, we hop in my Focus and suddenly we’re back in time, back to the year 2003, tasked with convincing Carmelo to come back for his sophomore season. This proves easier than anticipated. I explain to Melo that he needs to stay so that the Orange Nation won’t have to simultaneously poop themselves and projectile vomit every time they hear the name, “TJ Sorrentine.” Carmelo asks who this TJ guy is, but the tears streaming down Greg’s face (as well as all that vomit and poop) say it all. Carmelo says he’s down to stay, plus he’s got an idea—he’s going to convince his good friend Lebron James to join him for one glorious year together on the hill.
Greg looks at me with the child-like excitement of a Syracuse kid at his birthday party, beating the crap out of a John Thompson pinata. “Can you imagine our team?” he says, “Melo, Lebron, Warrick, Gmac, Pace, Edelin…”
“And don’t forget Craig Forth, setting screen after awesome screen!” I shout back with the enthusiasm of Jim Burr calling a bogus offensive foul. We hop up down with excitement, knowing that the 2003-2004 team will be the single greatest basketball team ever assembled, and we didn’t even have to cheat like John Calipari to make it happen. And sure enough, the team goes undefeated and wins it’s second national championship. And the realization that we deprived Calhoun of his second championship, makes it that much sweeter for Greg and I.
But when Carmelo and Lebron declare for the NBA draft, Greg asks me about the future, “What will become of Syracuse basketball now? Will there be a not-ten-games rant by Jim Boeheim, followed by a historic Big East Tournament performance by Gerry? What about the 6OT game? Surely none of that could possibly occur now that time has been altered, right?”
Wrong. Gerry’s garden party still happens, only this time it’s a one year after he and Warrick lead us to our third championship in three years. The 6OT game happens too. I don’t know how exactly, but it does. (author’s note: Don’t over-think things you guys!) And AO never injures his knee in ’09 and we win championship number 4. And Greg and I get proactive in 2012, going back in time to teach Fab Melo English at an early age, so he’s a straight A student while he anchors our zone and helps us to our fifth championship in 2012. And for no reason whatsoever, John Thompson gets hit by a bus, and everyone is happy and everything is finally right in the world.
Time travel is the best.
Nate Federman has written for several television shows you probably haven’t watched. He is a lifelong Syracuse fan who still belligerently lectures people about just how good Craig Forth was at setting screens.