“Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen”*
Today I’d like to tell you the story of Dorando Pietri. I don’t know if many of you already know it just as I don’t know if I use this example pretty often just because the guy was Italian and the episode got stuck in my mind in a bizarre exercise of weird patriotism.
You see, Dorando Pietri was a marathon runner from a little town less than 100 km from where I live. We’re talking about times when sports was much more about the discipine itself than whatever it is that surrounds the ahtletes (endorsements, doping scandals, and so on). This was a guy who started running competitively, the legend says, because he randomly participated in a race (in work clothes) where he, as a debutant, promptly beat the national champion of the time. It was 1904. Thinking to himself “hey! I must be good!” he started running more, and more, and more, and in three years became the undisputed best Italian runner on long runs from 5000 mt to the marathon itself.
In 1908, the Olympics were held in London and he participated, having regularly qualified for the event. At the time, the length of a marathon wasn’t thoroughly regulated. It had to be at least 42 km long, but the official distance was not instituted until 1921, when they set the London 1908 length as the standard from then on. Well, Dorando Pietri was well on his way to win the race with less than 3 kilometers to go, when evidently he started running on fumes. Then on fumes of fumes. Entering the stadium where the final lap would have to be taken, he chose the wrong path and had to be redirected by the umpires, who also helped him when he fell over for the first time. Before crossing the finish line he tripped over and fell three more times. He was able to finish the race (still in first place!) only because he was helped every single time by the umpires. It took him 10 minutes to “run” the last 350 meters, after having run the other 41,950 in 165 minutes. In the end, the umpires’ help got him disqualified from the race, but his legend was still set in stone as the man who crawls to the finish line no matter what, while struggling in an otherworldly way thanks to fatigue and/or exhaustion.
Well, Dorando Pietri is me.
*bonus points if you get this citation
I can’t even start to tell you how hard it is to recap these final games. At times, it might even look like I’m not even trying, which maybe subconsciously it’s true, like some sort of maneuver to avoid further psychological trauma. The truth (or the conscious one at the very least) is that I never imagined the situation would have ever been so bleak. I remember the 2014/15 season very well. I found myself able to watch that slog because in the end it was kinda easy to root for some of those scrubs. Galloway, Lou Amundson, even early Lance Thomas: very bad players who tried their darndest to… well, do something, I guess? It was hard to watch but it was kinda easy to sympathize.
This season just drained almost every possibile smidge of joy from watching the team. I said it a million times: it’s not the losing. It’s not even the beatdowns. It’s the fact that for most of the time, I don’t have anyone, anything to root for. It’s starting to feel a bit stale even rooting for Mitch. I was happy to see him post respectable numbers again, but did they matter? No they didn’t. Finally guys were passing him the ball again, but well… when you’re down 30, it’s not like anything still has value, right?
This is why recapping (or doing something else, but still Knicks-related, about) these games is like being Dorando at the entrance of the stadium: you’re trying to do it, but man, you don’t know where you’re supposed to go, or what’s your name, or why you’re in this place to start with. You, my friends, are my umpires. Somehow, you keep helping me every time I fall and feel the urge not to write a single word about this terrible team, at least until October (a very heavy stretch of work-related days doesn’t help either).
I can see the finish line. It’s just soooo far away…
There are a few things to say about the game, apart from the fact that it was over very early (the first quarter ended 39-25 for Utah; the first half ended 74-47) and that we had a lot of guys on the shelf, so let’s tackle them:
– Kevin Knox’s March is going pretty well on the offensive side of things. For the month he’s shooting 42.6% from the field and a blistering 48.5% from three. He’s turning the ball less, assisting a bit more and not coincidentally his usage has gone down (19.3%) while his TS% is pretty much at league average (54.9%). Tonight he scored 27 points on 17 shots and grabbed 8 boards. His defense was simply atrocious (Ingles is a very good player, very underrated, but his shot release is not very quick and still Kevin found a way to leave him open time after time after time), but I’ve come not to expect anything from him on that side. I don’t have much faith in Knox, but it’s good to see he’s trending up a bit.
– We were so depleted at point guard that we were able to witness to the first minutes in history of Mario Hezonja, PG extraordinaire! It really didn’t go well. Mario played a cool game (by the numbers) when deployed as the power forward, scoring 23 points on 13 shots, but was predictably a huge failure as a backup PG (4 TOs, 2 of them very comical). I’m still happy I got to witness that. It’s like those movies where a random schlub becomes president for a day and funny antics ensue. They can be funny sometimes, not like this reality where a non-random schlub becomes president for four years.
– Henry Ellenson has to be the best ball-handling garbage time big ever. A cool line of 7/9/5 in 18 minutes and a super slick pass to Mitch in the fourth. He can’t defend to save his life and he’s slow, but he’s a guy I can root for. One of the very few. His 5 assists were a tie for team high with Mudiay and DeAndre. Maybe next game we will witness Henry moonlighting as a 6’10” dorky poing guard? He was also the lone Knicks with a positive plus/minus, but it doesn’t mean anything at all in a game like this.
– When Mitchell Robinson ends the game with 14/12/1 and 3 blocks in 30 minutes and you’re still meh, well, I guess that’s the best definition of jaded you’ll ever see around.
– Dotson is another guy who’s posting good numbers in March, but to no avail. Still, if March Dotson was everyday Dotson I’d be ectastic: 17 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg on 44/40/80 splits are terrific production for a second round pick.
Guys, I don’t know if I’ll be able to recap next game, but it’s not like these games have a lot to say, so, if we don’t see each other after the Denver game, just know I loved you all. Just kidding. I barely tolerated you :)
See you soon!