HEART OF THE CITY PT.3: FACE OF THE EMPIRE
June was here, which meant the NBA Finals were about to commence. With the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Miami Heat in six games, they would meet the Portland Trail Blazers, who defeated OKC in 5. The battle for supremacy was about to take place, and it seemed like Ivan Frost and the Nets were favors to win it all. Meanwhile, Kairos was summoned for a very special meeting in Jupiter, Florida...
"Man, it's really hot. Of all days, plus I have to wear this suit. Is this really necessary Tiny?"
"We're going to a very high end restaurant, 1000 North. Can't just wear anything you want in these types of places. I'm hot too, but just bare with it."
"1000 North? Isn't that Jordan's place he's part owner of?"
"Mhm, you did your homework."
"And MJ wouldn't happened to be the person we're having this meeting with, would it?"
"Well, I didn't want to spoil you."
At that point, Kairos' nerves got all jumpy. Kairos was about to meet the man, the myth, and the legend him-self, Michael "Air" Jordan.
"Wait, wait, why am I just finding out about this? Yo, I don't think I'm ready to meet Jordan. Thee Jordan? What does he want to see me for? I'm a nobody compared-"
"Calm down, kid." Tiny interrupted. "Act like you've been here before, keep your cool. Don't blow this out of proportion."
"Blow it out of proportion? Have you actually met Michael Jordan?" Kairos asked.
"Actually, yes. Cool guy. He's no different than us, just that he's a NBA legend."
"NBA royalty" Kairos whispered elaborately.
"Listen, I've met him a couple times on a personal level outside of basketball. Haven't talked to him long enough to have brunch with him, but he's actually an okay guy. We're just going to go in there and see what he wants to talk about. I'm sure everything will be smooth."
"Yeah man, I hope so."
"... You know, I should be feeling a little disrespected that a man of all my talents didn't excite you as much as Jordan has."
"Yeah, but you're my manager though." Kairos smirks
The black limo jeep the two rolled in finally arrived at 1000 North, and just as Kairos imagined it, the aura of the place felt incredibly imposing on him. The feeling of stepping in a multi-million dollar location, owned by multi-billionaires, the level of class shifted on him, making him feel like he did not belong what-so-ever. But Michael Jordan was waiting on their pending arrival, and for Kairos, that's one man you didn't want to keep waiting. After verifying their "reservation" with the concierge, the two was guided to the table Jordan had sat at. Bypassing the other customers, Kairos felt there were unwanted eyes on him, but it was all a figment of his imagination that he had to block out as he was only steps away from meeting him...
"Tiny, it's good to see you again."
"Likewise, thanks for having us. Hope your wait wasn't long."
"Not at all. So, this is the legendary Kairos Black..." MJ extended his hand to shake. Kairos was a bit hesitant as his palms were sweaty. But with a quick swipe on the suit, Kairos completes the handshake. "It's been a while since someone been nervous to meet me. Think the people around got a little too comfortable around me." Jordan laughed.
"I have to apologize. I kept details under wraps til the last second, he's just finding out he's meeting you."
"No, no, it's alright. His organic impression is refreshing, i love it."
"Um, say hi Kairos?"
"Hi, Kairo- I mean, Mr. Jordan! I'm sorry! I'm just super nervous right now."
MJ just laughed it off, "Just call me Michael. Come on, y'all have a seat. Y'all want something to drink or eat?"
"Heard you got some of your own tequila, I've been wanting to try it out."
"You waited for the right time. Cincoro tequila. When Jeanie, I, and the others put this together, it was great. But now? It's amazing. We kept tweaking it, refining it. Goes without saying, we got it right where we need it to be."
"Goat shelf." Jordan smoothly bragged. "What about you Kairos? Having a drink with us?"
"Uh-uh, yeah. Sure, thanks."
Jordan gives Kairos the suspicious look of concern, "you old enough? You don't look like you got enough hair on your chest yet."
"I don't think he got enough hair anywhere on him. Look at that baby face, he ain't one of us yet." Tiny jested. Kairos looked dumbfounded to the conversation, but they appreciated his innocence.
The trio eventually ordered a late brunch and talked. After a couple of questions to Kairos about his father, Recks, the ice was broken and he began to be him-self. From there, the conversation ranged from basketball, personal life, ideas and business ventures. Jordan was highly impressed by Kairos of his intelligence and passion for the game, garnering him affinity quickly enough.
Just for a brief moment, MJ looked at Kairos, stared him in the eyes, searching his soul as he looked back at him. Taking his eyes off him, he looks at Tiny, "I like this kid. Don't know if it's the tequila that loosened him up or he's finally comfortable, but he's got a lot of us in him."
"Oh, you remember those days, huh?" Tiny asked gleefully.
"Oh yeah, we was all just starting out. Class of '84. You and your guys made some noise at St. Francis, Derek and O'Shae, right?"
"Yeah, we was known as the "Terrier Wardogs". Man, those were some good times. We all split up in the NBA. I went home to Jersey for the Nets. Derek went down south, O'Shae, rest his soul, went to Utah. You killed it in Chicago. Think we would have gave you a run had we stuck around, barring injuries and all."
"Way of the ball that rolls. But I can never forget you guys, some of my best rookie games were going up against y'all, especially you. You were just so persistent in being the best out there on the court. We were both the same."
"Yes sir, cut from the same cloth, something I can get behind."
"All these years later, then his old man, Recks came along and brought that energy back. Six-time NBA champion and finals MVP"
"And four-time NBA MVP. As well as two-time defensive player of the year, seven-time all-star, and three-time scoring champ." Kairos added.
"You had to add all of that?" Jordan asked.
"I have to. It's the respect of his legacy, that I aim to surpass one day." Kairos genuinely retorted.
"... And the scary thing is, I believe you." Jordan responded. "You did well finding this one, Tiny."
"I found him in Houston, boy was a chip off the block, quite more than a chip, honestly speaking. We mixed words, and when he finally got out, I caught up with him in Ohio. The rest was history afterwards. I have a bunch of amazing athletes under my umbrella, but this new fresh face here, I'm sure he wants to prove he belongs and become a top clientele."
"I see. Great investment. No different than my investment in Recks. Gave him a Jordan Brand deal and it took off. His signature of the AJ2's, the "Black Hollywood" became a favorite in my personal collection. I never thought that shoe could be that much softer. His numbers did so well for us, we had no choice but to give the family a lifetime deal."
"Yeah man, Recks was the man. He was definitely going to revolutionize the NBA in a big way. He tied you up for rings and finals MVPs, broke Kobe's 81-point game by a point. That man was something seriously special." Tiny added as they reminisced over Recks.
"I'm sure you have many of your own stories to share about Recks, but I get the feeling you have a better story to tell when yours is all said and done." Jordan hinted at Kairos.
"That's the goal. My Dad, he's done so much for us, my family, us here at the table, be it friendship or business, he's left an impression on the both of you guys." Kairos responded in sentiment. "You two aren't just anyone. You're Michael Jordan and Tiny Jimenez, who two are the very best at what you guys do and have remained there for a very, very long time. And if somehow, I can exceed those impressions he left on you guys, I know I'd be fulfilling my father's happiness of me being a better man than he ever was, or could've been."
Michael looks at Tiny, in response to what Kairos spoke, he nods his head. After another moment, Michael pulls two items from the seat next to him, setting them on the table before Kairos. A binder and a box.
"Finally getting down to business? What are we looking at?" Tiny asked.
"This is a new contract. Since Recks is no longer here, we pass on the torch with a new lifetime deal. Same perks for the family, signature sneakers, better money. Your father was potentially earning a lifetime of $3 billion dollars from this. Time and money has changed since. Your potential earning, you're looking at around $4-5 billion."
Tiny whistles at the numbers, "More than enough to make the devil blush."
"I don't have to think about this. If you stake that much faith in me as you did my father, I'm on board. My family has loved the Jordan brand ever since."
"Yeah, free clothes and shoes does that" MJ joked.
Kairos anchored his signature on the dotted line, officializing the deal between him and the Jordan Brand.
"Once again, welcome to the Jordan family, Kairos."
"It's like I never left."
A big smile came across Jordan's face as he chuckled, "This guy right here, full of one-liners, I appreciate it. Hopefully, here is where you want to stay."
"Definitely. Jordan is love, the brand is the symbol of greatness, symbol of culture, symbol of class. This is, how you said it? Goat shelf."
"He's a man after my own heart. You talk like that, makes me want to do everything I can to make you the new face of brand. One day, one day. So..." Jordan picks up the box off from the side and place it in front of Kairos, slowly retracting his hands. "This one is personal. The content inside this box is a major part of my career, my legacy. It was originally going to be gifted to your father's, but I think it's better suited for you. I strongly believe you have the potential and killer instinct to be the next big thing in the NBA. So when the time is right, when you're ready, use it..."
"... Oh man. After saying all that, I'm nervous to open it." Kairos retorted. "It's not big enough to be a pair of AJs. I'm scared to find out what it is man." Kairos proceeded to open the box, revealing inside the original grid neoprene knee sleeve. "Wait... This is the sleeve you used to wear during your career. The exact one???"
"The exact one. Given it's been cleaned over many times and preserved. After the company went out of business, many tried to replicate it. Easily done just as easily spotted to not be the real deal. This one is one of one. And even if you have no need for it, think of it as a good luck charm and my on-court endorsement of you."
"Michael, man, this is too much. This was supposed to go to one of your sons."
"They claim my shoes was too big to fill."
"They still are." Tiny interjected as Kairos agreed.
"You're really giving me a piece of your legacy to wear. Not sure if this is a blessing or a curse."
"Well, if it's a curse, at the very least it's a memento to this day, and a olive branch to a great partnership and friendship."
Little did Michael know, it would be the beginning of his mentorship to Kairos. At the age of 73, MJ was still full of knowledge and secrets that even Kobe Bryant had not fully delved into. And for Kairos, for as long as MJ lived, he would sponge up any and all opportunities to learn from him, personally. From the likes of Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson and many others, the rise of the Jordan brand laid at the feet of Kairos Black to be the next face of the empire...