And So the Story Goes
A chapter in our life together has lost its mortal crown. Iverson's Denver-bound, and so endeth one of the most tense trade watches ever. My initial thought was that Denver clearly does not give a fuck about this new thug-ball tag; Iverson may be grossly misinterpreted, but he's still the NBA's lifeline to the streets. Some ruffled hotheads might see this as the Nuggets even further showing their true colors, the nail in the franchise's splintering PR coffin. I think that the sheer star power of Melo and Iverson together will entrance all but the most clueless "fans," proving yet again that greatness trumps pettiness (see Bryant, Kobe). Or, if you want to be ultra-cynical about it, this is such a colossal mind-fuck that it hinders any post-brawl attempts to hate. And it's not just for the Nuggets. This experiment—believe, it is very much that—has displaced the negativity with a bough of fantasy.
I'm not sure I see this as a frantic gamble. During the Melo era, the Nuggets have reliably stunk until the All-Star break, only to go on a run, enter the playoffs aflame, and then crumble when they can no longer rely on momentum alone. As has been said in the comments section, there's no precedent for Anthony's suspension; kindly heed Craig's theory that this could be Stern's way of saving face without shelving one of his biggest attractions. If the Nuggets are going to make any progress in the post-season, they either need more momentum or have to develop an alternative strategy. Enter AI, who can either push their break up to Suns-like majesty or add a booming new mechanism to their haggard half-court. Whether he's dominating the ball or penetrating to kick out, AI can do everything Andre Miller tried to but on a HOF level.
Before we get to the all-important quesion of how two 30 ppg scorers exists, read aloud the names of the Nuggets' roster:
and honorary participant Kenyon Martin.
In a very objective, unremarkable way, that team is fucking insane, bananas, bonkers, however you like to call it. There is absolutely no way that, once everyone's on hand, this doesn't rival the Suns for must-watchitude. Swagger out of this world.
Now on to the bind. It might seem foolhardy to try and play the league's two leading offensive producers in the same five-man unit. Shoefly's right that this is Iverson's chance for redemption. And part of me firmly believes that his underdog complex will kick in when he realizes that this is his legacy right here. Not sure if he can make it work, but I can't imagine he won't be trying to silence the jackals. If AI and Melo can happily co-exist, at least part of his grating stigma is cast aside. Maybe he can't fabricate talent as Nash does, but he'll at least prove that he can look past himself in a non-exhibition setting.
Realistically, though, Iverson will be Iverson, and it will be up to Melo to accomodate this unstoppable force. The spike in Anthony's scoring is not evidence of a newfound selfishness. In fact, it reflects the strides he's made in his game: shooting smarter, missing less, and just generally looking like more of a studied expert. He wastes little, and gets the most out of each and every motion. His aggression and confidence have increased with this focus, and now draw their weight from the dignity of his craft. Weird as it sound, Melo has matured into the kind of player who could be productive as a second option, as opposed to the volume shooter he often resembled earlier in his career.
It's in Melo's game to make this work, but will his personality allow it? Get ready, please, for shouts of THE NEW FALLEN MELO IS TOO MUCH OF A BRAT TO EVER GIVE UP THE SPOTLIGHT. And then tell all those people to go over here, where I outline the relationship between Melo and his spiritual predecessor. You really think he grew up wanting to be like Mike? Have you ever looked at Carmelo Anthony? I personally guarantee you that Anthony will defer to his demographic's Jordan, especially since this is not an indefinite arrangment. If this means taking a back seat, I'll be disappointed. However, if AI and Melo can establish some chemistry without either man compromising himself, this could be a team for the ages.
Oh, and one more Shoefly remark to address: yes, I would've rather seen him with Garnett. But what would be more disheartening than three years of that duo failing to get past the first round.
UPDATE: FanHouse Iverson roundtable, featuring MJD, Mutoni, The Big Lead, and myself. We were all wearing suits, I think.