12.19.2006

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:

Allen Iverson
Carmelo Anthony
J.R. Smith
Marcus Camby
Nene
Earl Boykins
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.

glennthp

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.

20 Comments:

At 12/19/2006 6:37 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

Reading the names is important. i bet a lot of gm's immediate reaction to the trade was to scoff, one of those "that will never work." and then you read the names, and it's like a fucking fantasy team, and you get a little worried about your job. ai could have had this effect on so many teams-a momentary pause, as you think of all the ways it can't work, and then you read the names on the roster.

must watch doesn't even start to describe denver now. insanity. i wish i could donate my healthy knee to kenyon.

will it work? who knows. and it might not define ai's legacy as much as it does melo's, becuase shoals is right that the onus is on carmelo to adapt. that will be hard, and not because carmelo is any kind of thug, but becuase he's 22.

 
At 12/19/2006 6:46 PM, Blogger T. said...

I see AI deferring to Melo, not the other way around. This is AI's chance to redefine his legacy - like the unwatched 2004 Olympic team. Or AI in the All-Star game. He plays like a "true point guard" - distributing, driving, drawing and dishing - Yeah I know Simba already covered this ground, but I think AI knows the future is jumpman west balmer, and he'll fulfill the oscar robertson role.

WV: Yfikzik - Jeff Bzdelik's jewish/russian side of the family's name.

 
At 12/19/2006 7:00 PM, Anonymous Fish said...

Wade got Shaq, Melo gets AI, what aging megastar gets placed with LeBron?

Already snatched up tickets for when the Nuggets come to LA, Lakers and Clippers. Can't wait to see the rebirth of AI.

 
At 12/19/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

This could be Shaq-Kobe all over again. Will either Melo or AI be willing in the next 5 years to say "it's not my team"? That's what Kobe and Shaq never could. In today's NBA, somebody's got to be The Man, and the question here is who's it gonna be? Neither of these guys have ever had to sublimate their games for anyone, and even though I imagine there will be a honeymoon period of adjustment, eventually these guys are gonna have to figure out who the team belongs to. If JR Smith explodes in the next year or two, then you'll have 3 guys fighting for that title.

Will AI feel more pressure to practice now that he'll be challenged for the alpha male status on his team? Will AI be willing to put in the extra-game work to secure that spot in the eyes of his new teammates? Can George Karl follow up his Ray Allen/Sam Casell/Glenn Robinson dud with a new meshing of superstars? His coaching performance in the last Olympics certainly leaves many doubts about his ability to manage a loaded team. Is this the new Phoenix Suns, or is it Karl's Bucks all over again?

 
At 12/19/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

See discussion of the brawl (and more on racial dynamics in the NBA) here.

WV: erudwivo = A learned spouse who tapes "Lost" for you.

 
At 12/19/2006 8:22 PM, Anonymous Torgo said...

Damn. I was hoping for Minnesota, too, but you're right. They'd have no one around them, and it'd go south.

I think Iverson will go the Olympic/All Star route, now that he's playing with people who are legitmately good. I'm not sold on Smith yet (and honestly, when I read the trade was Miller and Smith, I forgot Joe was on the team, and thought they'd blown it up), but I can't see Iverson hesitating for a second to dish to Melo.

Aside from the Karl situation (I do think this could be the Bucks all over again), another thing to look out for is how they gel. Iverson is going to be playing without Smith or Melo for a while, how quickly is he going to become the focal center of the team? What happens when Melo comes back? They'll have to re-gel, and that could be a bit messy.

This is going to be fun.

 
At 12/19/2006 8:29 PM, Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

Good to see you're so passionat about this issue.

 
At 12/19/2006 8:50 PM, Anonymous boris said...

Whether he's dominating the ball or penetrating to kick out, AI can do everything Andre Miller tried to but on a HOF level.

This sums it up. For me Miller's assists always had the flavour of the AI assist - when there's not an easy shot available they can both make the creative pass. Neither is a pass-first guard, but AI just brings so much more to the table.

 
At 12/19/2006 9:00 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't think of andre miller as making particularly creative passes

 
At 12/19/2006 9:34 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Whereas the best points are able to create assists, Miller seems to pick up assists that happen to be lying around.

I think that the only way these Nugs will be truly great is to have cycles of deference, depending on who has the hot hand. I mean, it's impossible for two players to dominate the scoring at the same time. So I picture an ideal world in which both Melo and AI are able to say, he's hotter right now, I'm gonna get the ball to him.

With regard to Iverson the PG: I think we all know he can do it, and there is evidence from past exploits. And when he sets his mind to it, his PG game polishes up real nice. It seems to me that the misconception is that the "me first" principle really drives him. I get this feeling that his game is a series of decisions along the lines of: "do we stand a better chance of scoring if I pass it to Korver/Dalembert/Ollie, or should I just make something up again?" Basically his whole game has been posing this question to himself over and over again. I think he truly believes that he's the best option most of the time; the question we must pose to ourselves as we evaluate him is whether he's truly right most of the time.

 
At 12/19/2006 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melo will be the best 2nd option AI has ever had, truly a person the Answer can look to and say "he is as good or better a scorer than I." If he doesn't pass then, he really is a ball hog.

I think he will pass though, b/c AI is a playmaker first and foremost, not a ball hog, thats just the old white media pushing that stereotype b/c he scores better than anyone, ever, at his size.

AI and Melo making it happen, JR nailing the open trey's, Camby and Reggie cleaning up on the glass.

A Nugs/Suns playoff matchup would have more scoring than a college party where the guys took Viagra and the girls roofied themselves.

 
At 12/19/2006 10:39 PM, Anonymous dumbfish said...

This could be Shaq-Kobe all over again.
Kobeshaq = three titles before the flameout. Pretty sure the Nugs would call that a win.

WV:znykgael = Zeke's Knicks couldn't beat St. Mary's.

 
At 12/20/2006 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karl's Bucks? Did those guy's have any bench? And didn't AI beat Karl's Bucks in the 2001 playoffs by out scoring Karl's Bucks by himself? I think Karl will be fine with this team, unless he acts like a jackass and pisses AI off.

The double adjust sans Carmelo/with Carmelo has the potential to be messy like Torgo said. Hopefully an arbitor will shave some of Melo's time off so it doesn't stay messy later into the season.

W/ Melo, AI can kill the "ballhog" thesis and truly cement his legacy. If he can adjust and he isn't really a ballhog.

But this needs to work now. The Nuggets have to take Utah's lead so they don't have to play the four seed which will inevitably be the Mavs or Spurs which could easily ruin the FD wet dream of a Suns/Nuggets scoring orgy.

 
At 12/20/2006 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AI gets 7.3 assists on a team full of stiffs aside from Igoudala, who is definitely not a stiff.

I think that points to a lot of untapped potential.

I'm sure Larry Brown has talked to George Karl about this trade. I almost thing those conversations are unnecessary. The Nuggets are a far more cohesive unit than any AI has seen in his entire basketball career.

 
At 12/20/2006 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thing = thinking. ack.

 
At 12/20/2006 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck. kill me now. thing = think.

 
At 12/20/2006 8:40 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

hmmm, i totally forgot about the karl/brown connection. then again, karl's had plenty of teams that would've made lb puke.

 
At 12/20/2006 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The drama is going to be fabolous.
Sad comparison furthercoming:
The Nugs were a weekend warrior coke user splitting an 8 ball with 4 friends on a Friday. Then one friend said fuck it, I'm sick of dropping 2 C-Notes a weekend, I know 20 people who love nose candy, I'm slinging this shit. Things start out great, a little extra cash in the pocket, free blow, a couple extra lady friends (Year 1, lose in Conference Finals, Karl rips team in Denver Post says one more piece is needed, The Glove). Then a year off school, sleeping during the day, 35 phone calls a night from people who don't like you and you don't like, you listen to too much Radiohead, and cold sweats 4 days a week (Year 2, just missing the playoffs to GS, Karl rips team in Denver Post). Rehab (Year 3, AI does a sign and trade, Camby's old, Nene didn't play at all and is traded w/ 'Melo for expiring contracts, JR gets maxed out, Karl says JR & Fugazzi are the foundation, but quits 3 days later). Can't wait for this to unfold.

 
At 12/20/2006 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember, JR and Melo can practice while suspended, so it's not like they are going to be starting from absolute scratch in Feb.

vw: eszvfpz (fo shizzee)

 
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