Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
- A.E. Housman
Do you believe in fate?
Two big men found themselves caught up on the wrong side of the NBA news cycle on Monday morning. Down in Miami, it was learned that Josh McRoberts would miss the rest of the season after tearing the meniscus in his right knee during the Heat's victory over Phoenix last Tuesday. Meanwhile, New York Post writer Marc Berman chose this precise moment to suddenly back away from his long-established #TakeThatMasaiUjiri stance and pen an article excoriating Knicks center Andrea Bargnani as,"The expensive black cloud that began the Knicks downfall."
McRoberts and Bargnani -- two players suffering through miserable seasons. Yet these men share more than just injuries and disappointment. Like Ali and Frazier, or Kirk Gibson and Dennis Eckersley, these two warriors will be forever linked by by a moment of singular athletic perfection.
I am referring, of course, to the Bargsover.
From childhood I always considered Michelangelo's Pietà to be the finest work of art on Earth. Then I went to the Vatican in November 2012 to see it for myself and I was all like, "Meh, it's smaller than I thought it would be."
Approximately one year -- Nov. 8, 2013, to be exact -- I witnessed the true pinnacle of the human spirit of creativity, and my life was changed forever:
Every true Knicks fan remembers where he or she was at that moment. It was like the moon landing, mixed with one's first sexual experience, mixed with one's second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth sexual experiences.
Did you know that church attendance in the Tri-State Area rose by 75 percent in the week following the The Bargsover? I have no statistical evidence to back that up, and it most likely isn't true, but it feels true, doesn't it?
Now it looks like even the staunchest Bargnani supporters have turned their backs on the man. The haters have never truly understood what makes him tick, what separates him from the Jason Smiths of the world -- boring, jump-shooting automatons who suck at basketball. Bargnani is an artiste who sucks at basketball. Paying the man to "win games" would be like paying Robert Mapplethorpe to photograph your family's Christmas portrait -- you have only yourselves to blame when you end up with pictures of naked men beating each other with pepperoni sticks. Bargnani does not produce wins; he makes moments.
As for poor McBob, he was clearly haunted and inspired by memories of the Bargsover. Nobody wants to end up the Brian Bosworth to Bargnani's Bo Jackson, or the Shawn Bradley to every guy that ever dunked on Shawn Bradley. McRoberts went on to average a career-high 10.1 points in 2013-14, establishing himself as a valuable contributor to a playoff-bound Bobcats squad. He then parlayed that performance into a nice free agent contract with Miami. They say you have to hit rock bottom before you can turn your life around, and I can think of nothing more "rock bottom" than getting crossed over by Bargs.
McRoberts will have to work his way back to full health for the 2015-16 season, and it's entirely possible Bargnani spends the few remaining months of his career in what Berman describes as "an expensive black suit." Perhaps they will never meet again...or at least not until they star in the "30 for 30" film I intend to pitch ESPN. But these two warriors have a bond few in the sports world can truly understand; a bond forged at opposite ends of perhaps the greatest play in the history of basketball...if not the world. Both men carry the terrible weight of the Bargsover legacy, so that we may watch the Vine and be entertained for all time.