No man is an island, but sometimes he is.
In the Atlantic Ocean, 1,200 miles due east of the Bahamas, lies Waiters Island. An emerald-green speck formed from the collapsed dome of a long-dormant volcano, the island is home to several species of flightless birds, the last known colony of spotted-shell turtles (better known as "the talking turtle") in the world, and, for some reason, several polar bears. For the past five years, the island has also been the home of basketball star Dion Waiters. The island is rarely visited because magnetic waves from the submerged ruins of Atlantis play havoc with all but the most advanced navigational systems. Now that Dion has left his longtime dwelling to sign with the Miami Heat, he has given The Ringer exclusive rights to publish, for the first time, the map of Waiters Island.
The map shows places of interest in the order in which they were discovered (and in one case, founded) by Dion Waiters on his journey across the island.
1. Boeheim Beach
Dion awoke facedown on this beach after the storm of the NBA draft. He raised his head. Rough coral sand coated his skin, the grains falling from his hair. The beach glowed orange under the setting sun.
2. Rook Creek
Dion spent most of his first year on the island that would come to bear his name in search of a place where the tepid, brackish waters of Rook Creek were shallow enough to allow him to cross without ruining his sneakers. It’s actually a swampy estuary, not a proper creek.
3. The Buddy Ball Woods
After finding a river crossing and fording the northern part of Rook Creek with his sneakers tied at the laces and hanging over his neck, Dion entered the dense Buddy Ball Woods. It was here, with the sun trickling weakly through the thick canopy of trees, that he first realized that Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson would not pass him the rock. Dion was lost here for more than a year, subsisting on moss, snails, and the occasional pass.
Founded by Dion Waiters in 2014, the capital city of Yoimopen is often ignored in favor of the the more prosperous island cities with better shooting percentages nearby. Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, for instance, do not acknowledge its existence.
5. Men Lie, 6. Buckets Don’t, 7. The Troll
The twin, grass-covered hills of Men Lie and Buckets Don’t dominate the central landscape of Waiter’s Island. Thorny vines dotted with a rare type of hallucinogenic blackberry crawl up their eastern slopes, and a sea of wild ganja grows thickly in the valley between. A cave on the southern side of Men Lie is home to the magic troll who feeds on overconfidence and finishes every sentence with "AF."
Legend has it the troll was the first to tell Dion he was better than Kyrie.
8. Thirst Pond, 9. Brooks Brook, 10. Thunder Falls, 11. The Salty Sea
After visiting the Troll, a hypnotized Dion journeyed north, desperate for semi-open looks. After days of walking and flailing his arms about, he found himself at Thirst Pond, a small body of standing apple juice on the northeast side of Waiters Island. Though he drank from the pond alongside new teammates dressed in blue, Dion remained thirsty.
Thirst Pond feeds directly into Brooks Brook, a quiet corner of the section of the island where local islanders have been unable to draw up a play for centuries. However, something about the Brook made Dion feel comfortable. Perhaps it was an assurance that it’s not about "making" or "‘missing" layups but "being prepared to take them."
The nutrient-rich water from Brooks Brook cascades down Thunder Falls. There, Dion is brought into the brotherhood of his new team. His journey from Thirst Pond to Brooks Brook down Thunder Falls had been long, but he finally arrived at a place where his full potential was within reach: the Salty Sea.
12. 6th Man Meadow
No longer burdened with the task of proving his value as a starter, Dion roamed with a sense of freedom and purpose in the 6th Man Meadow. As he frolicked among the evergreen pine, Dion accepted his role for the first time in his life.
13. And-1 Willow
A large, glowing, majestic tree stands tall at the northwest side of 6th Man Meadow. Local legend says if you get within 3 feet of this tree, it will howl "And-1," regardless of contact. Dion now prays to this tree after every possession.
14. Free Agent Harbor
After proving he’s capable of accepting his role in the 6th Man Meadow, Dion, confident as ever, set forth to the great Free Agent Harbor. Upon arrival, he saw a single dock where many of his peers were preparing to set sail toward an abundance of wealth. Dion approached the dock with a choice: Turn around and accept a $6.8 million qualifying offer to go back to Thunder Falls, or set out on a new journey in hopes of greater prosperity.
15. Riley Point
In search of the vast riches which had, of late, fallen to the likes of Timofey Mozgov and C.J. McCollum, Dion, as the Troll had advised, passed on the Thunder’s offer. He set fire to Yoimopen and hiked to the eastern spit of land jutting into the sea. He waited at the old lighthouse, expecting his pick of treasure-laden ships to ferry him to rich, new lands.
He waited there for three weeks.
Finally, Pat Riley sent a dinghy, some bottled water, dry crackers, and a contract giving Dion a one-year deal worth the midlevel exception.