How does basketball provide a link between Junior's old world and his new life?

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When Junior leaves the reservation for the white school, his best friend Rowdy vows never to speak to him because Junior is a traitor. However, when Junior makes the varsity basketball team, he eventually plays against his old reservation basketball team, and Rowdy is the star player. Junior manages to play better than Rowdy for once, and his team wins. Junior's apology to Rowdy about beating him at this basketball game gets Rowdy to talk to him for the first time in a long while, and his response, though short and mean-sounding, was almost like the kind of response Rowdy would have given him when they were still good friends back on the reservation.


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