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2 on 5
THOMAS LAKE
December 08, 2008
One night in 1992, in a small town in Alabama, the North Jackson Chiefs won a game against seemingly insurmountable odds. Then came the crashes and the gunshots and one man's fateful choice
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December 08, 2008

2 On 5

One night in 1992, in a small town in Alabama, the North Jackson Chiefs won a game against seemingly insurmountable odds. Then came the crashes and the gunshots and one man's fateful choice

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Chad will have his chance to join Robert in prison. He will not take it. He will look at the smashing of Travis by their old friend's motorcycle and see a certain cosmic symmetry. He will consider his children and his personal myth, forged in this three-minute overtime, and he will put down his gun.

On July 13, 2008, he will see Travis in the street. He'll pull over and get out and walk toward him and they will both smile and throw their arms around each other.

—the Chiefs are gonna WIIIIINNN! AND THE CHIEFS HAVE WON, 69 TO 67!

At the sound of the buzzer the fans engulf Robert and Chad at midcourt, nearly suffocating them, until they hear Chad screaming from the bottom of the pile, "I can't breathe!" In the visiting locker room a few boys weep, and Coach Collie says he wishes they could all float away in a submarine.

And Chad Cobb and Robert Collier the heroes of the night, in a historical game.

After the game, Robert thinks he and Chad will go on TV, talk on talk shows, sign autographs. He will sign one, for a woman in a doctor's office in Birmingham. That will be all.

A few years later Sanders will mail Robert's and Chad's black polyester jerseys to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. They will not be displayed. In the summer of 2008 someone from the Hall will mail them back.

That same summer, on the same wooden floor at North Jackson, the latest crop of Chiefs will come in for a practice. Someone will ask them about the two-on-five game. They will say they have never heard of it.

What a game, and what a night it was—

Time is a dark blue river, and it rolls one way. Outside in the cold it rolls on.

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