Jeff Pearlman

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MMA and veins

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I’ve spent the past two days in two coffee shops trying to wrap up a story that’s driving me to drink.

Two moments in time:

Yesterday …

I’m walking through a parking lot from my car to the cafe. A car pulls up. Big guy driving. Lots of tattoos. His window is rolled down and he says, “Hey, you ever hear of MMA?”

“Yes,” I reply.

“Cool,” he says. “So I’m fighting in two weeks at the convention center, and I’m trying to get some attention for the fight.” He reaches toward his seat, grabs a CD or DVD with his image on the cover and hands it to me.

“You want me to have one?” I ask.

“It’s a big fight,” he says.

“You on Twitter?” I ask.

“Nah, man,” he says. “So I’m selling these to raise money for …”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I can’t give you money.”

I’m about to tell him I’ll Tweet out the fight info, but instead he whispers a “Fuck you” and drives off.

Today …

I’m at Panera. There’s a young woman at the register. She takes me order. Greek salad, no chicken. Her left elbow is wrapped in beige gauze. “Give blood today?” I ask.

“No,” she says.

Silence.

“It’s something else,” she says. Then, “But don’t worry. I’m not shooting heroin.”

“I really wasn’t thinking that,” I reply. Truly, I wasn’t.

She then tells me she recently got a tattoo—”A really cute one,” she insist. But it was done over a vein, and now the vein is infected, and the pain is excruciating, and she can barely move her arm.

“Wow,” I say. “Do you regret it?”

“No,” she replies. “Not really.”

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life