"My name is Jinpachi Ego, the man who was once hired to make sure Japan wins the World Cup, the man who succeeded in that goal. Now, I have been tasked to make sure that Japan wins the Olympic gold medal in basketball at this upcoming Summer Olympics." immediately after Ego announced who he was, the memories of the boys were jumpstarted. They weren't football (the author is American and calls it soccer in real life, but the word football will be used in the story) players, but they had heard about Jinpachi Ego and how he himself crafted some of the greatest football players of all time. However, they wondered what the hell this guy knew about basketball.
"To put things simply, there is one thing Japanese basketball needs to become the best in the world:
The birth of a revolutionary scorer." Ego then began pacing the stage as he continued to lecture the boys. "I will be performing an experiment here to turn one of you three hundred and twelve into the world's best scorer. That is what this facility is for."
Ego pointed to the screen being projected behind him, which then showed a pentagonal building and the word 'BLUELOCK' written above it.
Starting today, you will live here together and undergo the special top training I've devised. You won't be allowed to go home, and you will say goodbye to whatever basketball life you've been living up to now." The screen behind Ego then showed the various rooms in the facility. The dining halls, the equipment, the courts, and much more. The building was practically a basketball resort, a basketball player's wet dream.
"I assure you, that if you are to become the last man standing, beating out the other three hundred and eleven players, you will be the world's greatest scorer. That is all. Nice to meet you." After Ego's plainly spoken speech, the lights turned back on, and the stench of uncertainty filled the air.
'What the hell is this dude on?' Jin thought to himself, looking around at the other players who were murmuring to themselves.
"Excuse me, sir!" A young man with a bowl cut that matched Ego's, raised his hand politely as he spoke with an enthusiastic voice. "Your experiment sounds cool and all, but my team sort of needs me." the young man laughed and rubbed the back of his head while everyone else glared at him with mixed expressions.
This young man speaking then influenced others to no longer bite their tongues.
"Yeah, I have nationals coming up,"
"I can't leave my team behind, we need to train for next year!"
"I don't want to live with a bunch of random dudes."
"Yeah, it's gonna be a sausage fest! Plus, I have a girlfriend, I can't just not see her for who knows how long."
"What about school?"
"Who the hell even is this guy?"
"You're a football guy, what do you even know about basketball?"
"Has this guy even played a sport in his life? Look at him, he's practically a stick. One good gust of wind and he'll blow over."
"Is there anyone else we can talk to that isn't clearly unhinged?"
Ego looked down at them all with a flat expression before a sinister smile formed on his face. 'Just like the first experiment, none of these imbecilic children get it.' he thought to himself.
"Well, anyone who wants to leave can go." this sudden shift in attitude shocked the high school ballers as Ego continued to speak, though he lost his plain, monotonous voice and began speaking with disdain. "Is becoming the number one high school player seriously more important than becoming the world's greatest scorer? Hm?
Knowing that the future of basketball is in your hands makes me lose hope." Ego then paced back to center stage, holding up his finger as he continued to lecture them.
"Listen up. The power of Japanese basketball organizations is first-rate. You can thank Japanese thoughtfulness for that. But in all other respects, it is undeniably second-rate. Let me ask you this: What is basketball?" Ego paused to give them all only a second to ponder his rhetorical question, then he began answering it in a mocking tone.
"Is it about five guys working together?
Valuing your ties with others?
Playing for your teammates?" as Ego mocked them, he scoffed with the last comment before his voice was restored to its usual coldness.
"This is why the country's basketball has remained weak. I'll tell you the real answer." as if he were a complete lunatic, Ego's eyes enlarged, his smile grew to that worthy of a Christmas thief, and he tilted his head menacingly. "Basketball is about scoring more points than your opponent!"
Ego then fixed his posture and pointed to the crowd of boys. "If you just want to play friendly games with your buddies, then fuck off."
'This guy is fucking insane. You don't have to tell me twice.' as Jin's inner voice spoke, he started for the door with his hands still in his pockets. However, the voice of that kid with the bowl cut stopped him in his tracks. His once friendly, kind voice was now filled with venom. Hearing the sport he loved being defiled by the man on stage made him furious.
"Take that back! There are many athletes who have played on the Japanese team who I respect! They are my heroes!" after the boy said this, Ego was holding back his own laughter. Things were playing out in precisely the exact same way as they were during the original experiment.
With a massive smile on his face, along with his crazy wide eyes behind his glasses, Ego teased the boy. "But they've never won a World Cup or a gold medal have they? What really matters is becoming the best in the world, not being some kid's hero."
"Would people be celebrating me if I scored 138 points? You know how it is, some people would, some people wouldn't. They can all kiss my ass. I'm sure he feels the same way. If you score 138 points, you kind of have a license to tell people to fuck off." Hearing those words come from Ego's mouth compelled Jin to look forward with wide eyes. He remembered this quote, a quote coming from his very hero: Kobe Bryant.
Still on the stage, Ego spoke in front of a picture of Kobe Bryant that was projected behind him. "These are the words from arguably the world's greatest scorer, Kobe Bryant. A five-time NBA champion, two-time finals MVP, and Olympic gold medal winner. How about another quote from him? 'I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team...I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?' Anyone recognize that one?"
"Nah, I feel confident because I am the best player in the world. Simple. That's what Lebron James once said when asked how he felt about playing for a team that was undermanned. Four MVP awards, four finals MVP awards, Olympic gold winner, and is the man with the more points in his career than any other player to ever play the game."
"Or what about this one: There is no I in team, but there is one in win. Anyone know who said that? It was none other than the man who is considered to be the best to ever play the sport. Michael Jordan! Six-time champion. Six-time finals MVP. Five-time MVP. Gold medal recipient." Ego started let out a cackle, one so maniacal, one so psychotic, every last soul in the room felt disturbed.
"It sounds awful, right!?" Ego shouted down at the crowd at the top of his lungs. "But these guys are all in talks to be considered the greatest player of all time! If you ask anyone who they think is the best, they will more than likely say either Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, or Lebron James! What these three have in common is that they are all egoists!" Ego took in a deep breath before flourishing his arms outward.
"And that is what Japanese basketball lacks!" Then, with the most crazed glare yet, with eyes so big and a gaze so psychotic, Ego spoke with a chilling tone once more. "You can't become the world's best scorer unless you're the world's biggest egoist."
'What is he saying?' Jin could feel his heart pounding, and once again, darkness began to shroud every corner of the room to the point where his vision was becoming completely black.
"I want to create that kind of player here." Ego added.
'He's wrong, right?' Jin's consciousness raised that very question, though the answer would remain unknown for the time being. Jin wasn't the type to view himself above others, no he saw himself as your average guy, along with being your average player. However, he was chosen for a reason.
In his own mind, that darkness consuming Jin's vision had completely taken over and he saw a different version of himself, a darker, more monstrous version, standing atop a mountain. This mountain grew closer, so close that Jin was able to see that this wasn't any mountain at all, at least, not in the traditional sense.
It was a pile of bloodied corpses, all the corpses of every single person in that very room.
With a ball and jersey drenched in blood, Jin's other half glared at him with a crooked smile as he stood atop the mountain. This was Jin's true self, the egoist within him that had been locked away for eighteen years, the egoist within him who was prepared to break free.
'No.' Jin refused to believe what his mind was projecting in front of him. 'No, that's not me. I can't-'
"Just imagine it." Ego spoke to everyone, but in Jin's own head, Ego was speaking directly to him. "You're at the Olympic finals. Thousands of people are watching in the stands, billions are watching at home…" as Ego said these words, Jin started to imagine himself playing in the Olympics, playing for a gold medal.
"You're standing on the court. The score is tied at one hundred. It's overtime. There are only a few seconds left. You're running down the court with the ball. It's a fast break. A few meters to your right, you see a teammate…"
Jin started to realize that the scenario that Ego was describing was the exact same scenario that happened to him just a day prior, the moment he passed the ball and Sato blew it. That moment replayed in his mind over and over, and Jin's breathing became more sporadic with every passing moment.
"If you pass, your teammate has a free layup. It's a guaranteed two points. The entire nation's hopes are riding on you. Only an insane egoist will take the shot with no hesitation. Shooting a three-pointer in the face of their defender."
In Jin's own mind, he saw himself taking the shot, his eyes glowing red with fire as he watched the ball go through the hoop hitting nothing but the net. He saw the entire nation celebrating, cheering his name as he stood victorious on the court, his body trembling with excitement.
Much like the version of himself in his own head, Jin started to tremble in real life as a door began to open behind Ego, a massive one that was the size of the entire wall. He then spoke once more with chilling persuasion.
"Pass through these doors.
Abandon all common sense.
On the court, you're a star."
Jin's vision was still clouded by a dark aura as his life began to flash before his eyes. 'No, this isn't true. I'm just some kid who picked up basketball as a hobby. My dad thought it would be good since I was tall like him… My parents just wanted me to stop playing video games and get out of the house. That's all. I don't care about being the best, do I?'
"Nothing should bring you more joy than your own goals." it was as if Ego was reading Jin's mind and speaking directly to him, saying all the right things to get him to stay and go through with this crazy experiment. "Live only for the moment!"
As if Ego was speaking directly into Jin's ear, he could hear his next words loud and clear. "Isn't that what it means to be a scorer?"
Jin's foot slammed onto the wooden floors with such force, the floor nearly shattered into fragments. With crazed eyes and those red flames resonating off of his irises that only he could see, Jin sprinted forward. 'I am a scorer!' that other voice in his head shouted.
He ran past the crowd, knocking anyone in his path to the ground as others made space for him to run through. His expression was completely dead, showing no emotion, however, his eyes were just as psychotic as Ego's were. Ego smiled devilishly, watching how his words affected a boy, remembering how they affected another boy he knew during the original experiments, remembering the boy responsible for Japan winning the World Cup.
He remembered Yoichi Isagi.
Just as Isagi influenced others, Jin influenced everyone to follow him. A stampede of basketball players began sprinting at full speed toward Ego, some of which had the same fire in their eyes as Jin.
As the boys all ran through the door behind him, Ego pushed up his glasses and smiled. Just like during the first experiment, every single one of them accepted his offer.