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A P&T tribute to the retiring Seth Rosenthal

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He wrote Knicks good.

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The P&T staff would like to take a moment to pay our respects to our the retiring capo di tutti capi, Seth Rosenthal. I’m going to keep it short, as these jokers below me have put together tributes far better than anything I could slap together. Let me just say this: Seth is one of the finest sports writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, let alone meeting in person. This recap of the infamous “Don’t shoot, Bargs” game in Milwaukee is an absolute masterpiece, and Seth put it together in like 10 minutes. He’s a tremendous all-around dude and he changed my life by giving me to opportunity to write, by mentoring me, by ... you know what, forget about that crap for a second. He used words to make the New York Knicks interesting. Now that is a legacy.

— Joe Flynn


STINGY

This really is unfair to me. My associates and I will explore the possibility of taking some shrewd, clever and slick legal action. Unfortunately this punch in the gut may not be pursuable.

Ten years ago I was at a yellowing chip board desk that smelled like rancid honey. I was wearing my very oversized Anthony Mason shirt. Despondent! The Knicks management had razed the team for the jillionth time in however short of a span. So i neglected work and somehow wiggled my way to Seth’s cozy little blog. Immediately I knew I had to tuck myself into his sneaker. I was green and anxious and stingy.

After some various life-inspired twists and turns, he held my hand all the way to the middle of this odious pile of Knicks. He helped shape me into a better writer and person and it came so naturally that I’m sure he didn’t even realize he did it. I think the first time we met in the IRL, he and Charlie were bitten by a real human woman! Not by my good dog, Gladys. A few years later he chaperoned me out to Las Vegas on my birthday, quite a strange land. We played basketball at Findlay Prep and heard all about Myck Kabongo. Later, exhausted, I was so gracious when he threw me in a smelly house full of boys that desperately obsess over basketball and the oddity of fandom. It was a living breathing blog.

Over the years I wrote some things and Seth presided over my output with such grace and care. I know I got really lucky to have him as an editor. I poured over every letter of every word and I despise all of it! There is one thing I liked, and even though I would change like four words, I sincerely owe a massive debt to you, Seth, for being able to get those words to come out of me the way they did. The depth of satisfaction I got from finally getting these god damned words to do what I wanted them to! RAH! What that article gives me is too big to explain. But your time and willingness to engage me over the years played a huge role in it’s success. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of something I created, so thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

Losing Seth is entirely buns and the Knicks don’t exactly offer much hope to cope with this tragedy either. But in my dopey opinion there would be no point to this blog if not for Seth fostering such a healthy point of view for its community. So with that consideration, I am excited to see this baby grow into a teenager. Perhaps she’ll have an amazing reading at her bat mitzvah. Driving, voting. And with any luck it will still be around to legally drink from a championship chalice and Seth can sidle up to the blog to let the win spill over his face as he drinks rabidly. Triumph. That’s all I hope for.

One last post as a toast to forever.


Matt W.

I’m guessing that a lot of the stories people tell today, whether in this post or in the comments, will be about how they first came to this site. But to be honest, I don’t really remember what led me to P&T. I do know, though, that Seth inspired me to write one of the best, most heartfelt things I’ve ever written, and I’ll never forget that.

Back in November 2014, Tyson Chandler was preparing to face the Knicks for the first time since he’d been traded to the Mavericks in the previous off-season, and gave some quotes to ESPN about the occasion. I was a big fan of Tyson even after his somewhat unceremonious exit from the team, and I really wanted to write an article about the event. This was prior to the creation of the P&T Slack channel, so the process for claiming a story was emailing Seth, pitching your idea, and hoping that none of the other writers had reached out before you did. I sent Seth an email telling him that I wanted to write about Tyson Chandler’s comments. As it turned out, I was the first to attempt to claim the story, so I said I thought it’d be fun to frame the article as a PFTCommenter-style satire in which I shat all over Tyson for his lack of grit (or whatever). Seth wasn’t too keen on the idea, but after some convincing, he gave me the green light.

The first draft of the article was, quite frankly, crap. While I can’t recall many details about what I wrote, I remember wrestling with the premise for quite some time before turning in some weirdly half-baked piece of doodoo that rated all of Chandler’s quotes on (I think) a scale of one to five Crying Tysons. Seth read what I wrote and - in a much more forgiving tone than what this will imply because Seth is the nicest guy on Earth even when faced with terrible writing - told me I had to start over. As I said, I’d had a ton of trouble finding a good angle on the premise; however, I stupidly was wedded to it regardless. So when I couldn’t think of a different way to go about writing my biting (read: unfunny) satire, I emailed Seth again to tell him that he should pass the article onto someone else.

Seth didn’t want me to give up so easily. He told me that I should forget about my original idea and gave me some advice, which I’ll try to paraphrase from memory here: “Not every article needs to be funny. Hell, if you can find a way to make a personal connection to what you’re writing about, that’s gonna be better than some dumbass joke article 100 times out of 100. Think seriously for a bit about some connection you can make to this, and if even then you can’t come up with an angle, I’ll give someone else the story. But I don’t want to do that, because you can do this.” I’m sure he said it in a much more eloquent and less cheesy way, because Seth is - and I’m not being hyperbolic in deference to the moment here - one of the best writers and communicators I’ve ever come across. But his point, regardless of the actual wording, was that I would be best served speaking from a place of personal experience, not of detached aloofness.

Seth’s advice and confidence in me was legitimately inspiring. And so I thought about it for a good, long time. Then it finally hit me: a lot of the quotes Tyson had given since leaving the Knicks seemed to be rehashing what had gone wrong in New York, even when - especially when - Chandler wasn’t overtly talking about the team. And that reminded me of how I couldn’t seem to let go of a fledgling relationship I had screwed up in college, even after I’d dated other girls. So that was my new angle, and I got to work writing what eventually became the linked piece above. After Seth read it, he said (and this, I’m pretty sure, is an exact quote): “Man, I’m SO glad I made you rewrite that article. That was awesome.”

Like I said, I think it was one of the best and most heartfelt things I’ve ever written. And if it weren’t for Seth’s encouragement, I never would’ve written it. That’s what I’ll remember most about Seth as he officially moves on to bigger things: that he cared enough to make sure I wrote something I would still be proud of two and a half years later. That matters, even when we’re talking about a website where idiots write about a basketball team that spends most of its time punishing us for our loyalty.

So I guess this was a really long way of saying thank you, Seth. And when the Knicks finally do win the championship, I hope you’ll come back and write one more recap. Because I don’t think any of us can imagine another person capturing that moment better than you could, buddy.


MMIRANDA

I didn’t realize P&T was a Knicks blog for an embarrassingly long time. Sometimes other sports sites would have links to it, and I’d click on and think that the Seth dude here was a limnologist who happened to have a passing interest in the Knicks. The day I realized there was an entire fun, humane blog with actual real-world perspective devoted to my favorite team felt like finding an Earth-like world after light years hurtling through the cold empty space of sports media. I made a few comments here and there and then started writing Fanposts. My dream at the time was to get a comment from the Seth dude. Finally one day he did. It struck me that he was always kind, always insightful, always clever; it struck me because more often than not reading a sports blog felt to me like a Faustian bargain — yes, here is content you crave, but ohhhh the horrors you’ll endure while here.

I was at work the day Seth emailed asking if I wanted to come aboard as a P&T contributor. I loooove my job, but I have probably never been as happy at work as I was that day at work. It had never struck my mind that that could happen. I had been in heaven getting a handful of comments on Fanposts. Here was a chance to grab the mic and spit shit to an entire community of Knick fans! I knew the work Seth produced. I knew the quality he constantly put forth. It honored me then and now that he thought enough of my work to help with P&T.

The thing I came to value most about Seth was his humanity. Sure, he’s funny, and intelligent, and driven. So are a lot of assholes. But as an editor, as MattRW touched on earlier, it really is remarkable to work with someone who can tell you “No” but leave you with “You have something worthwhile to say; reinvent it and you’re good.” It’s remarkable to work with someone who can keep two seemingly contradictory ideas in his head at once, i.e. sports is important to lots of people for lots of reasons! and also sports ain’t shit! You don’t need to sync up with someone’s politics to work with them, or to like them. But it’s fucking cool when a person you like working with and like talking to turns out to be empathetic with an eye on what matters. Good folk = good.

I wrote a piece two years ago, a letter to James Dolan after his ugly letter to a Knick fan he accused of being an alcoholic (Oakley foreshadowing?). Initially when I pitched the idea to Seth, he wasn’t interested. But he came around and let me go for it, and it became the piece I got more feedback on than anything else I’ve ever written. Seth let me write about the Knicks in a zombie apocalypse. He let me create awards based on Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! He not only lets you be who you wanna be, he helps you be who you wanna be.

I teach writing, and as most of us know it’s easier to point out lessons to other people than it is to remember them ourselves. Seth was my writing teacher for years, and I’ve taken literally and life lessons from him. The last thing he taught me, probably without even knowing it, was maybe the most important: mind the gap between getting what you want and being happy. I used to think my teaching job was a temp gig until someone in the sportswriting world looked down from Olympus and plucked me up to begin my dream job. I was working myself to the bone teaching five classes a semester and freelance writing and feeling frustrated by it all. One night Seth and I were chatting, and he sent me a screenshot of his desktop. There were 39,737 apps and icons and threads and streams. I hadn’t really realized how much work went into Rosenthaling. I was stunned.

I realized how happy I am doing what I do. I wouldn’t be doing it without Seth. Even if I was, I might not realize how lucky I am to be doing it. Thanks, yo.


China

Seth (and his site) have been so amazingly welcoming and friendly that even an internet-wary person like me was sucked in and became a true believer.

Seth made P&T a place where you could be whimsically clever, nerdishly obsessed, and occasionally talk about basketball without being angry, boring or mean. Sounds like no big deal but clearly it's the rarest skill in the world. When I grow up I hope to be like Seth.

Also, the omegle conversations and Jim Todd.