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Nor does Rodney understand how he personally could have been in any way responsible for Albert's flareup. "I think that's just the kind of kid he was inside all the time," he says.
About the fact that Albert was working all along in a veritable pressure cooker, Rodney only says, "Hell, it was a good job and he worked hard."
Through his grapevine sources Rodney has learned that Albert has a new job working in a park not far from his home. He is employed by Gil Reynolds, a small, tough ghetto coach who is good friends with Joseph Jeffries-El, a wealthy Moslem minister. Somehow, Rodney says, the two have combined to pay Albert $50 a week for doing nothing. "Some days he supposed to work on his shooting. Other days he works on his dribbling."
Yesterday afternoon Rodney called Albert and told him he was being bought, that the time would come when Jeffries-El, who recently has begun representing pro players, would own him. "He wants you for himself," said Rodney. After that Rodney yelled at Albert for being rude and for walking out of his job. Albert replied that he didn't care. Not about that. not about anything.
Moments after Rodney hangs up, the phone rings again. It is the coach at the Eastern high school and he is despondent. In today's paper Albert King has been named the MVP of the United States Youth Games. The honor is like salt in the man's recruiting wounds.
"I'm so discouraged. When he was here he said, 'I'll do whatever Rodney says.' But now he's with those other people." The man's voice is whining and sad, like a boy who has been sent to his room.
"You know how people say whites are always using blacks? Well, if he comes here he'll get treated better than anybody else, better than anything anybody could offer him.
"What's he got now—$100, $200 a month? Chicken feed, Rodney. We're getting together a lot of professional people to help. We can do what it takes. But I'd hate to have to buy the kid. I mean, I'm sincere. I'm down in the dumps but I'll fight it to the end."
Rodney hangs up and chuckles at the coach's frustration. He sighs deeply, then shakes his head, putting Albert King aside for now.
At 8:30 in the morning Rodney nearly tears his front door off the hinges, dashing out of the elevator and running two blocks to a small apartment building on the south side of Foster Avenue.