This is a story about love. It's also a story about the Houston Rockets, which feels a bit odd.
Nobody likes the Rockets, you see. Even their own fans are probably going through the motions -- rooting out of sense of custom and obligation for this clanking assembly of moving parts, an engine sputtering through the postseason, stripping the hallowed game of basketball of its very soul.
We Knicks fans have more reasons to despise this franchise than most. I'm not gonna look it up, but I'm pretty sure New York hasn't beaten the Rockets more than once since the Clinton administration. They are the demons of '94, the skulking villains who ended Linsanity. They're the only team out West capable of making the Clippers seem likable. I was quite looking forward to watching L.A. finally dispatch these bastards and set up a far more palatable Western Conference Finals against the Warriors.
And then that man sneaked back into my life:
Please don't take this for hyperbole, because I'm 100-percent serious: Pablo Prigioni is my favorite Knick of the Dolan era. I'd raise his fucking jersey to the MSG rafters if I have my druthers. Why? Because watching basketball is supposed to be fun.
The New York Knicks are not fun. The butt-nasty reemergence of James Dolan over these past two weeks is undeniable proof of that. The owner does not give a fuck whether or not fans enjoy themselves; if anything, he gets his jollies from pissing them off. But that stench, emanating from the very top, never stuck to Pablo. He averaged 17.9 minutes per game during his 2.5 seasons in New York, and he entertained us for every second: hustling, sneaking, speed toddling around the court, and giving adorable interviews:
Had the Rockets lost, Sunday would likely have been Pablo's final NBA game. So he went out and played his most Pablo game of this postseason -- sneaking and passing, passing and sneaking some more. Listening to Mike Breen on the call was the icing on the cake -- the dude is a Pablo admirer, one of us.
Sunday's Game 7 was a special moment. It cut through all the petty bullshit usually associated with watching your former guy succeeding on a new team, a team you hate. There was no jealousy or bitterness, only the pure joy of watching a beloved Knick do his thing. Even his former teammates got in on the action:
Pabloooooooooo— James White (@Flight8) May 17, 2015
Pablo Prigioni will never again play for the Knicks. The last time we see him on an NBA court he'll probably be wearing one of those ridiculous McDonalds-looking Rockets jerseys. That entire franchise can go to hell. They don't deserve Pablo. But such is life. As Marvin Gaye once said, only love can conquer hate.
If you read this site, you probably love Pablo. He wasn't an elite player by any means, but for a few seasons he made our lives as Knicks fans that much more enjoyable. On Tuesday he will play in his first-ever conference final. We'll get to see him for at least four more games. Everybody wins.