>CHEKHOV FOR THREE

>The way he held his head. That was the secret. Still like a duck’s breast above water. From this state of pure calm, Chekhov commanded the court. He was always three steps ahead of anyone else: his opponents, his team-mates, even the expert observers who sat high in their expensive catered boxes, mapping out the players’ moves on tiny blackboards. Tonight, as ever, Chekhov is in control. The final seconds: Gorky threw him the ball. Chekhov simply slid two steps to his left, outside the three-point line, and before his opposite number could even react, he rose onto his toes, his two cramped arms releasing into fluid lines, the snap of his right wrist powerfully sending the ball spinning into the air. The ball carried a perfect parabola—all anyone could hear was its rotating fizz—before dropping straight through the basket. There was that satisfying flip of the net. Chekhov bounced on his toes. Another game was won.

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