An obsessed Pablo Prigioni fan says goodbye


Written by Kyle Picknell (@kylepicknell) on 30 October 2016

Dear Pablo,

I’m sorry it turned out this way. Being waived for Tyler Ennis, who was going to be waived himself, who was part of a trade that included Michael Beasley, is a fate far from what you deserve. You are a certified basketball sage, a borderline clairvoyant and perhaps most importantly, a cultural icon, not just in Houston, but New York of all places. You are a monolith to the dreams of unexceptional athletes across the world, entering perhaps the most physically intensive sports league in the world as a 35-year-old rookie. Who looked kinda like he was sculpted out of wax. Who shoots the ball as though a chef flinging off his oven gloves, pissed because everyone keeps ordering the pizza and won’t try his signature fettuccine, which, his wife informs him, is an ‘absolute delight’.

None of this mattered. You understood the game of basketball. It just didn’t understand you.

The Rockets deem your veteran wiles surplus to requirements now they have signed famously solid locker room presences such as Nene. Obviously, Tyler Ennis is a lot younger than you. 17 years in fact. Daryl Morey is counting on this, and any semblance of improvement, in justifying his decision to waive you.

Pablo, I think it was a mistake.

Morey has no heart. He deals exclusively in risk versus reward, analysing numbers, probability. He gave no thought to the emotional reciprocations that were in play. He ignored basic human and basketball principles in waiving you, turning his head at your finest qualities such as running an offense and generally being a fucking legend.

Age is just a number, Pablo. You and I both know this. When Morey talks about age, he sees a development curve and mentally plots a little ‘x’ where he thinks you are. He doesn’t realise that you are fundamentally unplottable, unpredictable, unquantifiable. You are off the chart.

You are Pablo Prigioni.

Two years ago, in Game 7 against the Clippers (who you would later join on a reconnaissance mission), you stole Chris Paul’s mortal soul. Not once. Not twice. Any fucking time you wanted to. They say you, Pablo, were the inspiration behind Cliff Paul. The greatest point guard of a generation brought to his knees because he couldn’t get to his own team’s inbound pass. Because you, Pablo, almost a decade older, several centuries wiser*, knew what Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan were going to do before they knew themselves. Their lazy passes, cemented into their muscle memory through years of peace, of being unhassled and unrushed, were swiped away by your sorcerer’s hands whilst the rest of your team lumbered back on defense. You didn’t rush, you waited, set up in the half-court and protected the ball until, after what would feel like an eternity, they caught up with you. Mentally, no-one ever could.

You were doing everything. You beat Blake Griffin to an offensive rebound. You stole the ball from him when he dared try that back down, spin around in the post and chuck one up with his back to the hoop bullshit. In transition, even though you were running on a full incline treadmill, you still got the layup. You were controlling Corey Brewer and Josh Smith like a master puppeteer, willing them to hit their 400-square mile radius open 3s and moving them around on offense as though pawns in your chess game. You were the Queen, Pablo. Those beady eyes and hollow cheeks patrolling the board better than either coach or the great floor general Paul.

Priggy Smalls. Pablo Prigcasso. Little Miss Priggy. Snoop Prigg. Priggy Stardust. The Artist Formerly Known as Prig. Priggy Pop. Priggy Hendrix. This isn’t the end. Hang around near the fountain of youth, and come the playoffs, there will be a team that needs you.

It will probably be the Rockets.

Missing you already.

Sincerely,

Everyone.

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