Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
They had agreed to meet at a cafe on Rodeo Drive. This street was undeniably one of the most famous streets on America’s West Coast. Rodeo Drive was home to the epicenter of luxury, fashion, and lifestyle.
Kobe was easy to recognize since he was taller than most people. He wore a pair of sunglasses and sat behind a table. He tried to stoop low to remain unseen. Even so, he was still eye-catching.
The purpose of trying be inconspicuous was very simple. He didn’t want to be recognized. He was extremely famous in Los Angeles as an iconic athlete. If he was recognized by his fans, they would definitely ask him for a photograph and an autograph.
Li Du went up to Kobe and shook his hand after asking for a photo with him.
Kobe actually loved making jokes. As Li Du asked for the photograph, Kobe laughed and asked, “Are there any other NBA players you admire? I can arrange it for you, photographs, autographs, and so on.”
Li Du said, “That is not necessary. You are my favorite NBA player. Your playing style is just too cool. During my college days, I always imitated your playing style. I’ve even gotten a nickname.”
“What was the nickname?” Kobe laughed.
Li Du replied, “Kobe Jr. from Apartment 502.”
Kobe laughed heartily. “That’s sad. Here I thought you were some kind of Kobe Jr. at your school. I met a guy during an event. Do you know what they call him?”
Li Du shook his head and then Kobe said, “Black Bull Shaq. I threw a few hooks at him because I was not on good terms with Shaq at that time.”
People who were unfamiliar with the NBA would not know about the conflicts between them. Shaq was another NBA superstar, Shaq O’Neal. He once teamed up with Kobe, and they became the best duo of the 21st century. The two were able to win consecutive NBA Championships.
However, the managerial level of the basketball team incited a quarrel between them that affected their relationship. In the end, they took different roads and went their separate ways. They had also attacked each other through the media.
Later, Kobe led his team to two consecutive championships. He then slowly let go of his grudges against O’Neal. The fact that he could joke about it proved it.
Li Du calmly analyzed the situation. “You see, Kobe, from a fan’s perspective, you should be honored because this means that you are two of a kind. I mean” he paused and then continued, “Are you even certain that he is called Black Bull Shaq? Maybe he was just provoking you to get your attention.”
Kobe blinked and said, “I didn’t think about it. Oh, no. Maybe I was too impulsive at the time. Maybe you are right. I might have been fooled by that b*stard.”
The jokes had brightened up the mood. Their conversation slowly veered to the main objective of the meeting.
Kobe asked, “Li, I recently found out that you have some connection with Harry Winston, Inc. Are you one of the shareholders?”
Li Du nodded. “Yes, I purchased some of its equity shares last year. Don’t tell me, you are one of the shareholders, too? That would be a coincidence.”
Kobe shook his head and laughed. “No, I am not that rich and overbearing yet. The thing is, to my knowledge, Harry Winston, Inc. will soon release a series of luxury jewelry, right?”
Li Du nodded.
Kobe said, “I saw their advertisement, and I’m interested in a set of earrings. You see, my wife is a woman of great beauty. It is only natural to compliment her with such gorgeous jewelry.”
Li Du understood and asked, “Are you asking me for help? I would assume that you could contact Cole through your network, no?”
Kobe shrugged. “I don’t know anyone with the first name Cole, but I do know someone with the last name Cole. He is a basketball commentator. Obviously, he wouldn’t be much help.”
Li Du said, “Leave this to me.” He pondered a moment and said, “Actually, there is a better option. Have you ever thought of customizing a set of exclusive jewelry for your wife? I have a batch of fine gemstones.”
“What kind of gemstones?”
“Black opal.” Li Du always brought his backpack along with him. He opened it and summoned the little bug. He pretended to take out a case with the black opal inside it. He opened it, and the gemstone sent out a dazzling glow.
Kobe whistled in appreciation. “Wow, that thing is gorgeous!”
Li Du said, “I do have quite a few of these. If you want to customize one, I can sell them to you. At the same time, I can also contact the designers at Harry Winston and have them design your jewelry according to your preference.”
Kobe responded without hesitation. “That’s it then. What’s the price?”
Li Du smiled. “I mined these myself. So the price that I am giving you is definitely lower than the market price.”
The two of them shared a similar personality. The way they handled matters was swift and decisive, passed like thunder and moved like the wind.
Kobe was keen to buy the black opal, so Li Du brought him to the Harry Winston, Inc. flagship store in Los Angeles. Li Du arranged a gemologist to determine the authenticity of the gemstone and to evaluate its purity.
While waiting for the result, Kobe said, ” Hey, Li. You have plenty of fascinating stuff with you. I am starting to think that you are a professional treasure hunter, just like Chris Bell.”
Li Du replied, “I am.”
Kobe responded, “Are you kidding me? You are not only a shareholder in Harry Winston, Inc. but also own an invaluable gemstone pit!”
Li Du laughed. “This truth is, I didn’t think that I would manage to own all of this. I started working at storage auctions. I was a professional storage auction treasure hunter.”
Kobe said, “In that case, I might be able to offer you some help. I have information with me. At first, I was going to share this with you as a thank you gift for helping me, but I realize now that you might not be interested.”
Li Du was intrigued and asked, “How is it possible? Say it. What’s the information?”
Kobe said, “It’s information regarding sneaker storage. Dahntay Jones. You do know of him, right? He’s also an NBA player. He’s now in Atlanta.”
Li Du loved watching the NBA during his college days. This name, Dahntay Jones, was unfamiliar to him. However, he did have some impression of Jones. He was a role player.
Kobe continued, “He just went to Atlanta. He was in Indiana. This guy has a hobby of collecting NBA star players’ autographed sneakers. He has collected a lot of them and had them stored in a warehouse located in Indiana.
“In the end, two days ago, I heard that he did not pay the storage fee. As a result, the storage company froze his storage and is about to begin an auction. Are you interested?”
The warehouse was in Indiana, which was fairly far from Los Angeles. Li Du was not very interested, but he would still go and have a look if the items were valuable.
Kobe said, “Those sneakers are pretty valuable. As far as I know, there are over 1,000 pairs of them in there. In fact, many of those were custom-made for famous celebrities. In total, they are probably worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Li Du took a cold breath. “Over 1,000 pairs? Did he plan on selling sneakers after retirement?”
Kobe laughed. “Who knows? He had always asked for autographs after a game. He’s gotten over ten pairs just from me.”