Biscuit Rights

Watching a bit of Team USA basketball and enduring a summer of NBA ups and downs has lead me to the following conclusion on what actually needs to be done to fix the league:

Allen Iverson must get traded. Again.

For the good of AI. For the good of Carmelo Anthony. For the good of the Denver Nuggets. For the good of any one-superstar team out there just waiting to turn into a contender. For the good of The Association. Let's take a few things into account.

The world games showed that Carmelo Anthony is a motherfucking star, and AI might be inhibiting that. Don't get me wrong, these FIBA games are a joke. Anybody making any regular-season conclusions based on these games has lost their minds. The USA bracket is cheez whiz, and despite all the talk of what Coach K has done to increase the team's sense of purpose (BLIND WAR VETS), these guys are still playing at three quarters speed and look like the And1 all-stars minus excessive smiling. With that said, there is no doubt that Anthony is the man on this team, and his game is getting better each 6-month increment. Pre-suspension, this past season, it looked like Melo was gonna explode as MVP. Then fists flew, and criticisms about his character continued. Then AI happened. Then the Nuggets drowsed into the playoffs and looked completely lost. Thankfully, this leaves Melo exactly where he was a season ago.

As opposed to LeBron and Wade, Anthony has always had doubters, myself included. That first round exit, and the whole HOW COULD THE NUGGETS NOT BE BETTER WITH AI? chorus puts a lot of weight again on Melo's shoulders. With everything he has to prove (MORE THAN DIRK), I'm starting my Melo for MVP campaign right now. But this really isn't about S-Dot Snitchin. This is about A.I., and about how he hasn't looked right in baby blue since the day he put his Denver jersey on. Out of all the superstars in the lig, there could be no worse counterpart for 'Melo than Iverson. Carmelo needs either a distributor or a guy who is just money from outside. Trade Iverson for J-Kidd or Ray Allen (hey, not bad ideas), and immediately Denver becomes a contender. Dare I say that Andre Miller was doing more for Melo's game than A Easy?

Jewelz is giving them the ability to get to the basket like a freight train. But hold up, Melo's bread and butter is getting to the hoop like a freight train. Where is the spacing? How is this supposed to work in a George Karl offense based on scoring + scoring + old Tar Heel voodoo?! Not to mention the fact that Iverson's defense has gone downhill. The current Nuggets team is nowhere close to the true contenders in the West right now (PHX, San Antonio), probably isn't as good as Dallas, has more swag-but-less-talent-than Houston, and may not even be able to run with Golden State these days. All of this translates to not a whole helluvalot of championship hopes for the Nuggets...and is THIS how we want the Iverson saga to end?! With people saying that he couldn't get it done with the Sixers, and even with a quote-unquote


The other recent story that makes Iverson a relevant topic at this point in the summer is of course the KG trade. NBA fans outside of Boston and Minnesota by and large LOVE this trade because "nobody deserves this opportunity more than KG" right? Well, I would argue that AI deserves it just as much. The narratives of KG and AI are surprisingly similar, despite their angel/devil bifurcation, as both brought disheveled franchises out of the dust, both reached their pinnacle of playoff success/stardom in their MVP years, and both ultimately met the hand of Shaq during the Shaq era. Both were said to be the victims of a poor supporting cast.

Now, both are supposedly getting their chance with better teams, but there are glaring differences between a Melo/K-Mart/Camby group of co-stars and a Paul Pierce/Ray Allen cast. Quite simply, those Nuggets need a babysitter--Pierce and Allen can look out for themselves. There was almost a slight discomfort when AI was traded to Denver...as though that wasn't quite what he was looking for when he asked to get out of Philly. Of course anywhere was better than wasting away with the Shavliks of the world, but don't you think Iverson had some different places in mind...Dallas, Phoenix, Detroit, even a KG team-up...than Denver? I'm pretty sure we even saw A.I. more excited when Chris bloody Webber joined him in Philly. Iverson is an old soul and he needs to be surrounded by his kind.

This is all not to even mention how good this would be for the league. The KG trade, the Kobe bitching, and Houston's Steve Francis acquisition was the aftermath of Baron Davis exploding back into the national spotlight. Stars need to be seen, and stars need to play deep into June. We need to see A.I. in the summertime.

**image taken from the philaflava.com message board


At 9/07/2007 12:11 PM, Blogger goathair said...

This is about A.I., and about how he hasn't looked right in baby blue since the day he put his Denver jersey on.

So true. Iver Anderson needs to play for a team that wears dark colors, preferably black.

At 9/07/2007 12:48 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Let me be the first to call "fake" on the YouTube clip. And the first to make the "he should team up with MC Skat Cat" joke, too.

Now, for something a little more bold: nice post, but... The Nuggets might do better than the Celtics this year. I really want to say they will for sure, but the loss of Steve Blake is killer... they needed him to run the offense.

That being said - I call BS on this. Iverson and Melo can and will figure out how to work together. Give them a little time - they barely had two months together last season, and were clicking at the end (big win streak heading into the playoffs). If Camby can do his thing (he doesn't require the ball), and K-Mart is healthy... this team is going to have some success. Both Melo and AI are proven winners - this isn't about babysitting anyone. This Nuggets team has more playoff experience than the whole Celtics squad. Give them a season before writing them off.

Also, Melo was great on the FIBA team, but he was the second-best player. Kobe was the one who made the team go. And if anyone needs to be traded or teamed up, it's not KG or AI - it's Kobe. The league is losing every postseason that goes by without Kobe playing a major role.

At 9/07/2007 1:45 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I agree with the prior comment. Late last season Nugs were playing as well as anyone. How many columns did Hollinger write to show this?? Of course a team that has had 2 real months to gel is going to fall apart to the Spurs after a game. AI/Melo deserve a full year together before we start talking about Melo being held back. If he can be a dominating shooter when on the floor with Lebron and Kobe and DHoward at the same time, then he and AI can work out their spacings.

At 9/07/2007 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current Nuggets team is nowhere close to the true contenders in the West right now (PHX, San Antonio), probably isn't as good as Dallas

Check yourself. Phoenix is never going to beat the Spurs with their current lineup, and selling off Kurt Thomas, James Jones and their draft picks for Barbaro and his shot ankles means they took a step back. Dallas is far more of a threat to the Spurs than the Suns. Phoenix is a step behind even Houston now.

At 9/07/2007 2:16 PM, Blogger Bobby Generic said...

I agree more with sml on this...although I think the appeal of Iverson defaltes significantly when he is teamed up with anybody, regardless of who it is. His entire persona was built upon this gigantic wave of adversity that, seemingly, was bound to overwhelm him and keep him from attaining any real success in the NBA.

That was the opinion shared by nearly everyone with an educated basketball mind before his bull rush in the 1998-2001 years. He was too short. He didn't weight enough to last a career's worth of playing minutes/years. He was too selfish to play point and too tiny to play 2-guard. He didn't get along with Larry Brown, his teammates were not talented. His image was distracting to the team and the franchise.

These kind of cliche arguments developed over Iverson's rookie and sophomore seasons when they were warranted; he was talented, but to raw and unabashed to be successful. But the cliche criticism continued through the next 2 years, even as Iverson was contradicting it with his on-court performance. By the time he made it to the finals, he was celebrated and beloved by basketball fans because he had accomplished something that, retrospectively, doesn't seem feasible for a single player to do.

Now, Iverson is established. He's a veteran that has already defined himself and his game, and he is still a very effective player on the offensive end. But his game is also now predictable and boring. And it is a different kind of predictable. It used to be that you knew Iverson was rolling off a screen and was going to get the ball at the extended elbow of the key, but nobody could keep up with him, let alone stop him. He just overpowered the defense.

Nowadays, Iverson is not capable of consistently winning games on his own, which was obvious towards the end in Philadelphia. He can put up similar numbers to the ones he put up in his prime, but they come at the expense of playing defense and winning games.

I love Iverson, and I want him to win a championship very badly. But if he wins it with Melo, or if he won it with the Suns, or the Mavericks, it wouldn't be Iverson winning it the way I want him to win it. I wanted him to win one as the guy that had to put up 45 to have his team win the game by 2.

There would just be something about a guy like Allen Iverson winning a championship without hoisting the MVP trophy that seems incredibly wrong and insulting to the way he plays the game. He won't compliment Melo as well as people anticipated, just like he wouldn't compliment anybody the way people might picture he could. Iverson's legacy is his ability to win with nobody's help.

At 9/07/2007 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, bobby generic. I agree totally about any AI championship feeling sort of wrong if he hasn't carried the team through sheer force of will. He's just a different player now, and the chance for us to get a true 'Iverson Championship' has passed, I think. He's past his physical peak by at least 3 years, so I'm not sure if he could really carry a star-less team to the Finals at this point anyway. So a Nuggets multi-star 'ship is probably all we will get to see, and that's not bloody likely.

And I agree with everyone who says that the Honorable DLIC jumped the gun a bit by putitng the Nugs out of the premier West teams. If some small pieces come together (JR getting a shot conscience from the Wizard, Nene staying away from the empanadas, and Camby not breaking his hand while getting the paper on a Saturday morning), the Nuggets are certainly a premier team, and can beat the Spurs in a series if things go the right way, which I think is true for any team playng against the Spurs in the Playoffs... If things don't roll their way, there's no way they'll overcome the execution and apparent Satanic pact of the Spurs. If K-Mart comes back playing as even 70% of his former self, they're certainly a premier team. And if Kleiza AND JR (or Chucky) find their shots consistently? Watch the fuck out.

Deep down, I don't want J.R. to develop a conscience... but I know that it's essential to him staying on my team, so I'll sacrifice excitement for the greater good (namely, not having wasted money on a JR Nuggets jersey and the effort defending him from all sides last season)...

At 9/07/2007 3:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

melo and wire-related

At 9/07/2007 4:34 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

...Nene staying away from the empanadas...

Damnit! Brazilians don't eat empanadas, okay? It's bad enough them Colombians stole our cuisine, but now people are starting to credit our primary South American rivals for our empanadas?!?

Fine, screw it: They can have the empanadas. Argentina invented hot chicks in thongs and capoira....

At 9/07/2007 5:27 PM, Blogger personalmathgenius said...

I can't see Dallas duplicating even 4/5th of their success from last year. What team with even just three legitimate scoring options isn't going to just try and outrun them now? Last year was coaching smoke and mirrors, to summarize the Billups column about Scott Skiles, eventually players stop listening.

Also, cosign on whoever said PHX has taken a big step back with their trades and salary dumps. I don't wanna jinx anyone, but going only 7 deep is some Hickory High shit. (well, 6.75, considering GHill is a Bon Jovi song)

But no love do I give for the idea that Kobe was the best player on the USA team. Melo was unstoppable, and he certainly wasn't better than LBJ. He wasn't even the big difference maker. I'd say that was the leap upward in PG quality.

At 9/07/2007 5:51 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Of course Dallas isn't going to duplicate 80% of the success from last year. They won 67 games against a good third of the league tanking for the draft. They're still gonna end up with 55+ wins and a top three seed in the West. Not every team in the League is coached by Nellie or has the horses to push the tempo against them. I don't see anything to indicate that Avery has lost that locker room, or that it would be a wise idea to dump him. I put them firmly behind the Spurs for now, with Houston coming up close from behind and may pass them next year. San Antonio is tops in the West, and the Hou/Dal/Phx axis come next. Utah and Denver are after that. That will leave the Blazers, Lakers, Dubs and Hornets to fight over the last two spots.

At 9/07/2007 5:53 PM, Anonymous insurance cheap homeowner said...

We need to see A.I. in the summertime... Great post and thanks for writing!

At 9/07/2007 6:15 PM, Blogger badly drawn boykins (fka spinachdip) said...

sml - Indeed, Nene is most likely porking up on feijoada, or those marinated steak bits. Damn, them Brazilians know how to cook meats.

Also, that Tim Donaghy pic reminds me of the summer days and quarters spent playing NBA Jam (up down left left shoot for Tim Donaghy/Dick Bavetta bighead). I used to run game as the Charlotte Hornets.

WV: eyhzsj = "Enjoy your ham, Zydraunus," said James.

At 9/07/2007 7:45 PM, Blogger personalmathgenius said...

Daniel- good point about the tanking. I had a different comment, but it got eaten trying to log in. Basically my gist is that Houston will definitely deny at the very least a 3 seed to them, if not the two. PHX, if healthy, ditto. Which puts Dallas's best at 4, which may not be a given as I think Utah's going to make the jump as they now realize their identity is Deron & Memo. (it'll be like on the Simpsons when the writers figured out it was about Homer, not Bart) plus I'm going to go ahead and identify with those who say a full season will greatly improve the Nugs. That jacks the Mavs down to...6?! And then you've got to figure NOH won't have quite such buzzard luck with Paul & Peja, that Kobe will discover even new depths of teeth to grit, to say nothing of REAL sleepers. The West has just gotten harder, and I don't think Nowitzki can play any better (and is probably due to miss some time to injury, it just seems like he's been really lucky so far). I don't think anyone's afraid of Jason Terry, and everyone knows Devin Harris can't shoot.
They can sneak up on the league once, but no way they do it again. They're the Pistons without the chemistry, with three defense-only 7 footers playing about 1/2 as good as Big Ben when he was still there.
I don't think the Lil' Gen.'s job is in jeopardy, I just don't think he'll be able to catch people by surprise or engender the fear they had going into the playoffs. Methinks that loss to GS is going to give them a serious fast-onset case of the Buffalo Bills/Sacto Kings (Webber/Divac/Christie/Big Nasty/WC vintage)

At 9/07/2007 10:41 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Say what you want about the Mavs' chances in the postseason, but that's still a top 3 regular season team. They have scorers, the defense is good enough, their players don't get hurt (although you're right, PMG, you'd assume Dirk would get hurt at some point), etc. I can buy that fewer teams will be tanking, but let's not assume it won't be popular. Houston's two best players get hurt for large portions of every season, the Spurs always look less-than-championship-caliber before March, and the Suns might have to take a few more games off now that their depth's gone heroin chic. I also doubt teams are capable of running like the Warriors just because they want to in one gamme -- that's not something you can turn on in a practice. So, I wouldn't expect more than 65 wins again, but let's give them some credit.

I agree that Kidd was the best player in the tournament.

At 9/08/2007 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

personalmathgenius - I'm gonna spam the fuck out of your blog at the end of the NBA's regular season.

"This guy literally said, "That jacks the Mavs down to...6?! And then you've got to figure NOH won't have quite such buzzard luck with Paul & Peja, that Kobe will discover even new depths of teeth to grit, to say nothing of REAL sleepers."

...And then he defended his point by predicting an injury on the defending MVP who hasn't missed more than 6 games since his rookie season (8 years ago).

Something tells me you didn't choose your login name to be ironic, but well, here we are.

At 9/08/2007 1:06 AM, Blogger personalmathgenius said...

Anon 12:34, actually it is an ironic handle, my ed. was decidedly liberal arts-heavy. (it's also from a book where it describes the part of one's brain that can do the instantaneous calculus necessary to do seemingly simple stuff like catching a ball, ie; everyone's personal math genius. actually it may be 'private math genius', its been a while since i read it)

My point is that short of some old Jay Williams, injuries are pretty much bad luck. Maybe conditioning and preparation can prevent them from being exacerbated, but the fact he hasn't missed a lot of time in his career seems just as likely to indicate he's 'due' as not.

wv: ysxme- Mutumbo sweettalking Anon.

At 9/08/2007 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...And just for Shoals, to prove he can still do it, Dirk is attempting about 8 threes a game in Eurobasket 07.

At 9/08/2007 1:30 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

The Mavs won 58 and 60 games the two previous years with 90% of the same roster. They've been pretty consistent. The same kind of predictions were made about Dallas after the heartbreaker to Miami, that they would let it carry over to their regular season. I'm amused by the armchair Dr. Phil analyis of the Mavericks' collective psyche. It's based on nothing, it's just conjecture. History says they'll turn in another good regular season with no guarantees beyond that. It's not like this team is old - Dirk is 29, Jet is 30, Devin is 25, Josh is 26. You can pick their games apart all you want, but with all this team's flaws, they did win a lot of games. Not every team has the personnel to do what Golden State did. On paper Houston has made moves to close the gap, but that's about it. Phoenix took a step back with their roster moves.

If Dallas stays healthy, they win 55+ games. That puts them no lower than fourth. The West is so heavy, it's a different kind of parity. All of these teams look good on paper, but somebody wins and somebody loses.

At 9/08/2007 2:20 AM, Anonymous 3 Point Ointment said...

whoever said the mavs are a 6 seed either doesn't really know much about basketball, ir has some donaghy type information that no one has.
That team is solid from top to bottom with emphasis on the regular season. GS was one of the only teams that could have exploited the Mavs the way they did.
I still think that the Mavs would have lost to the spurs and suns, but thats because those were better teams. GS beat the Mavs by eploiting one huge weakness (Dirk is soft as baby food).

At 9/08/2007 2:23 AM, Blogger goathair said...

The Mavs are the late 90s Jazz and the Grizzlies are this year's Warriors.

At 9/08/2007 8:52 AM, Anonymous westney said...

OK, back on topic...

Totally agree with SML et al. who think that AI will figure it out. Look, all you have to do is examine his career trends in FG% vs. AST. Both categories look like an upside-down bell curve, and it's easy to see why they do what they do at various times (rookie dominance, no teammates, team carrying, mediocre teammates, C-Webb, in that order). But the current trend is up in both categories and you know the man only cares about one thing.

Of course Melo is the man on this team. He's unstoppable inside and out, he'll matter when it counts.

At 9/08/2007 8:53 AM, Anonymous westney said...

Meant to say Melo is the man on Team USA.

At 9/08/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

personalmathgenius: assuming someone is "due" for an injury is statistically unsound. Assuming that getting injured is more or less completely random, then each instance is still completely random. If you flip a coin 10 times and it comes up heads all 10 times, does that mean the 11th flip is "due" to come up tails? No, your odds are still 50%.

I think that Dirk plays a style of basketball in which he is unlikely to get hurt. He's not leaping through the air and hurtling into bodies ala Gerald Wallace, and he's extremely well conditioned and pretty coordinated. His injury history is both a result of good luck and a low-impact playing style, and while injury is always a risk, I don't see any reason to assume that he'll miss more than a few games at most.

At 9/08/2007 11:01 AM, Anonymous The Gong said...

Just to throw it out there, Dirk gets sprained ankles every year. However he has done it so many times that he, like most everybody who sprains their ankle many many times (other than VC,) develops a "rubber ankle" where he recovers really quickly. It is definitely lucky that he hasn't gotten injured more severely but he definitely has been hurt.

At 9/08/2007 11:02 AM, Anonymous The Gong said...

I can't believe I used the word "definitely" twice in a sentence. This (combined with little insight) is why I don't have a blog I guess.

At 9/08/2007 11:04 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Send AI to Portland. Roy strikes me as an old soul, Oden is seen as one (whether he is or not). Neither one of those guys needs the ball to succeed.

Iverson's thug image has a nice patina on it, and so that shouldn't be much of a problem. And the fans there appreciate hard-working ballers, which is the one thing AI can never have taken away from him.

At 9/08/2007 11:13 AM, Blogger badly drawn boykins (fka spinachdip) said...

3po - Crediting the W's win over the Mavs to Dirk's softness is not only "right way" and un-FD, it's wrong.

You're right that GS exploited his weakness, but simple matter of matchup. Dirk is effective because he's a walking matchup problem, but he loses the matchup advantage against defenders who are quick and long (see T-Mac in the 2005 series). It just so happened that the Warriors had multiple guys who fit the bill.

And people don't realize GS actually have some pedigree. Baron Davis is an absolute beast when he's healthy, and won some huge games for the Hornets, and the Spurs don't win the 2003 title without S-Jax.

Which is why I also disagree with Goathair - unless Pau decides to seriously break out, and the Conley/Lowry combo at the point is better than anyone expects, they don't have tools to pull off a GS.

At 9/08/2007 11:14 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

I think JR Smith is a big key to this Nuggets team. He needs to stretch the defense. Both Melo and AI are inside players, meaning they are not 3-point shooters; neither are Nene, K-Mart and Camby. Smith has to limit himself to 3-point shooting (as opposed to driving), and work to improve his already impressive outside shot.

Yes, JR Smith would be more fun if he was allowed to do his thing, without constraint. But for the Nuggets to succeed, he has to limit himself to being a role player... the three-point specialist, if you will.

At 9/08/2007 2:53 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

big ups to bdboykins. some ai on another post made a good point about the Warriors -- Davis and Richardson missed huge chunks of the season with injuries, and they got a major talent upgrade with Jax and Al. Once that team was finally together and healthy, they killed it down the stretch to make the playoffs - they were 26-35 and they finished 42-40.

I think GS is going to take a step back this year with Rudy Gay 2.0 replacing Jason Richardson's roster spot, but that team together and healthy for a whole year wins 50-53 games. And Dallas was its typical 60-win self with an inflated record due to all of the tanking. It's still an upset, and the biggest of all-time based on W-L disparity, but is it the biggest upset of all time based on talent? Not even close.

And can we put the Dirk is soft thing to bed? The guy gets his teeth knocked out and gets up, plays on sprained ankles all year long. I've been watching him for 8 years now and I would never say he's soft...I think it's more accurate to say that he doesn't play smart. He didn't post up Barnes and S-Jax because he was afraid, but because he is a shooting guard in a power forward's body and shooting over guys that can't affect his shot is what he does. Against the Warriors and a select other teams, he's not quite the matchup nightmare. You could instruct him to go down on the lowblocks with his back to the basket and try to score with a mediocre postgame, but is that really Dallas' best bet to win? Tim Duncan has a decent 18-foot jumper, but is that what he should do all game long?

Nobody on that Mavs team had a great series, only Diop played well. And with Dampier out to a torn rotator cuff, they had nobody back to protect the rim from dribble penetration. BD is 6'3, 215, Jason Richardson is 6'6, 225, and Dallas tried to stop them with Jason Terry (6'2, 185) and Devin Harris (6'1, 180). And Dirk sucked too, but he had plenty of help. Avery getting worked over like a punching bag at the hands of Nellie didn't help matters.

It was an upset, but I would think the more astute observers would realize it wasn't the biggest of alltime, except on W-L records alone.

At 9/08/2007 3:53 PM, Anonymous 3 Point Ointment said...

The reason I called Dirk soft is because he got used up by multiple GS players. One of the main reasons that the Mavs didn't have a good series is that Dirk didn't do his job. Made it kinda hard to win when you're best player is sitting at the elbow or the corner doing nothing.
Compare BD's approach to Dirk's. It's cool that a lot of people here love Nowitzki's game but he got exposed. He can play well until he gets scared...

At 9/08/2007 7:14 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Mr. Bagel: Roy definitely plays better when he has the ball in his hands. Like Joe Johnson, he's capable of playing off the ball. But just like JJ, he's much better with the ball in his hands. So I don't know if a backcourt with him and AI would work too well.

At 9/08/2007 8:49 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Dirk isnt soft or scared, it's no secret long, lanky forwards are the best way to defend him and the Warriors had a lot of those. And Baron Davis didnt have a great series because of balls or cojones but because the Mavs tried to guard him with a guy who gave up 3 inches and 30 lbs and couldn't keep BD in front of him.

Dirk went from 25 and 9 to 19 and 10 against Golden State. That team is constructed in such a way that he has to play lights out for them to win. He had a worse series against Houston two years ago but they still advanced. You lose and win as a team

At 9/08/2007 9:41 PM, Blogger badly drawn boykins (fka spinachdip) said...

I cosign Daniel's comment.

I don't even like Dirk that much. Even before the playoffs started, I didn't think he deserved the MVP and I thought the Mavs were doomed.

But calling a dude "scared" and "soft" because one team happens to be able to neutralize him is just intellectually lazy "right way" sportswriter shit. It's the fucking matchups, Occam's Razor and whatnot.

At 9/09/2007 3:30 AM, Blogger Martin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/09/2007 3:33 AM, Blogger Martin said...

Though I am against lazy journalism and "right-way" harangues, I still think that there is room to evaluate emotional factors when debating a player’s performance. It seems ironic to discount mental toughness in the comments sections following a post about Iverson- who I consider to be the very embodiment of mental toughness.

Anybody that has so much as played a couple of pickup basketball game at the local gym can attest to the HUGE role of mental attitude. The supreme confidence that comes from facing a perceived inferior opponent or the gritty determination borne out of a long hard fought game can turn the hoop into a huge bucket that you simply can’t miss. Likewise, nervousness or anxiety can shrink the rim to size of a ring, making it impossible to score.

So to all the Dirk apologists- sorry we don’t believe you- you need more people. Match up problems can be attributed to one significant playoff melt down not two. I watched EVERY game of the Miami-Dallas and Dallas-Golden State series'. What I saw was the best player on the Mav’s team shrinking when the game what on the line, moving away from the ball, not demanding the ball and simply trying his best to be invisible on the court.

What was the key difference between the defenders on dirk during games 1-3 (first three qs) and games 3-6 of the Miami-Dallas series? If my memory serves me correct it was the same posey-antoine combo that suddenly managed to completely shut dirk down from games 3-6. Please do tell- against GS this year, did the match-ups suddenly change in Game 5 when Dirk was raining threes from deep and making 4pt plays? Wasn't he hitting those shots despite being guarded by the alleged 6-7 "dirk-kryptonite" players? “hold on” you exclaim, “there is no way Dirk could reproduce his game 5 performance over the course of a seven game series!” Well tough luck that is what we expect from superstars! – D-wade dropped 4 dominant games in a row, and though AI was not dropping 50plus points like he did against the raptors and bucks, he still managed to average over 35 points in a beat-down from one of the best teams in history (the 2001 lakers) who threw a “match-up” problem at him with tyronne lue. Sure I feel alot of sports writers turn to blanket cliches like "soft" however if there was a player that deserved the label "soft" and "chocker" it has to be Dirk.

At 9/09/2007 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...because T-Mac would never give the impression of soft, what, with his stellar injury record and mulitple times advancing in the playoffs.

It's YOUR perception, numbskulls.

At 9/09/2007 12:05 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Dirk is perceived as "soft" for two reasons: One, his team is soft. The Dallas Mavs, as a whole, are soft. That's fact. That's not to say it's Dirk's fault (it probably is not - you should blame management if anything), but as the "leader" and centerpiece of the team, he's going to get blamed for his team's faults.

Two, he's Euro. Euros are perceived as soft in general. Most Euros in the league don't bang down low; they don't play tough man to man defense; they don't draw contact, except for Tony Parker and Ginobili, who isn't a Euro!

Sidenote: it's not a geography thing - I know most people not from South Carolina know that Argentina isn't in Europe; it's a style thing. I'm cool with Turkey being Euro, even with Asia (China) being Euro - they have that soft style of play (lazy defense, et al). But South Americans have a power game - note that Nene, Nocioni, Oberto and Scola are all capable of being traditional POWER forwards. "Euros" don't produce PFs; they produce forwards without the power - see Dirk, Bargnani, Okur, Yi, etc. Or they produce centers (Yao, Gasol, et al). But the PFs are missing.

Back to Dirk - I don't know whether he is truly soft or not, because I personally can't separate him from his team enough to make that call. But I can understand why the perception is there - it's for the two reasons I stated above.

At 9/09/2007 2:17 PM, Anonymous 3 point ointment said...

The reason i called Dirk soft is the way he completely disapeared in the most important moments of the game. I think calling his team soft is sort of a cop out. When you're a superstar MVP calliber player there's supposed to be a player or 2 in the league that gives you a lot of problems not a general profile (6'7/6'8 guys) that can completely make you irrelevant which is what happened to Dirk.

At 9/09/2007 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He disappeared the exact same way that Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, and LeBron James did in their respective defeats... I wouldn't consider them soft either.

At 9/09/2007 6:20 PM, Blogger Martin said...

stopmikelupica I acknowledge that Dirk’s Euro background plays an unfair role in his public perception as “soft”. However, as the Mav’s best player and MVP he must shoulder some of the responsibility for the team’s identity as soft. From the Mav’s past two playoff exits, one of two things is apparent- either the Mavs are not mentally strong enough ("soft") to prevail over a clearly inferior opponent or Dallas was grossly overrated a team built on smoke and mirrors that could only succeed based on match-ups (i.e. lost to Miami but beat a Spurs team that would have mopped the floor with the Heat). More likely it is a mixture of both. There was clearly an element of chocking- Dallas was clearly better than Miami- evidenced by their dominance during games 1-3 (1st three quarters). But rather than capitalize on their clear superiority, the Mavs lost as they were unable to get over internal mental handicaps such as anger over the officiating and their fear of Wade’s perceived celestial invincibility. On the other hand, one could legitimately argue that GS were simply a terrible match up for the Mavs- but I am sure Nellie boosted his players’ confidence by positioning Dallas as a mentally weak team that could be toppled by a scrappy underdog.

Anonymous 3:56- I can't say much about Howard, I think his playoff record is too minimal to analyze. However, I don’t think I have seen a playoff series in which I felt that either Kidd or James disappeared. Even in losing campaigns, Kidd and James are always the best players on their respective teams based on statistics and/or impact (Even when Kidd is not stuffing the stat sheet with triple doubles his impact can be felt in the drop off in team play when he is on the bench). Dirk on the other hand rarely seemed like the best Dallas player during their past two playoff defeats- I think that should be the first litmus test for an unbiased "softness" estimator.

At 9/09/2007 8:03 PM, Blogger badly drawn boykins (fka spinachdip) said...

I feel icky trying to defend Dirk, so I won't. I don't even know if he's soft or not.

But it's unfair and unreasonable to expect MVP qualities from a guy who won by default. He won because there was no clear frontrunner, he scored a lot, and he was on a 60-win team. He's just a very, very, very, very good player with limitations. He helps his team by scoring, no more, no less. He just happens to stand out more than, say, Zach Randolph because he's a goofy looking Euro with a porn star name on a title contender.

Maybe he did choke. Maybe he was scared. But picking two playoff losses as samples skews the data (nevermind that we're talking about an undefined and unprovable quality) - does mental fortitude not matter when you win (say, vs San Antoinio or Phoenix)? I'm not discounting the mental side of the game (hell, as a Hornets fan, I still remember back in 2000, Eddie Jones broke my heart while Aaron McKie ripped it out), but it just seems more reasonable to believe that GS's strategy against the Mavs was based more on Nellie's knowledge of Dirk's limitations as a basketball player, rather than Matt Barnes thinking "Do I look scarier with a faux-hawk?"

For shits and giggles, you can compare the Mavs' +/- stats from the regular season and the playoffs. Dirk goes from +12.4 to +8.4, which actually isn't bad considering the samples they're drawn from.

At 9/09/2007 10:50 PM, Anonymous 3 point ointment said...

I think it's hard to make the case that Dirk wasn't scared. A player with a great shot and a team built around him can't be as irrelevant during games as he was. It's not as though he stayed agressive and couldn't get a break, he just backed down to an 8th seed. I'll never say he isn't a skilled player though.
To respond to the idea that he's labeled as soft just because he's a euro... I think it's more because he's soft. A lot of the other players who have been labelled as soft are home grown (t-Mac, VC) and a lot of foreign born players don't get hit with this label.
What if for shits and giggles i compared dirk's 06/07 to the past `0 mvps???

At 9/09/2007 11:52 PM, Blogger badly drawn boykins (fka spinachdip) said...

"What if for shits and giggles i compared dirk's 06/07 to the past `0 mvps???"

You're missing my point. Dirk is not an MVP-type player. Just because the NBA writers collectively lacked the imagination to pick someone more worthy doesn't mean we should expect MVP-type whatever from him.

You can't just tell someone, "Hooray, you're MVP. Well, why the fuck won't you act like an MVP?"

At 9/10/2007 3:09 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said...

You know, I was going to post all about AI. But then I came on here, and I honestly didn't feel like reading all the posts; so I read the last few.

Dirk is the worst MVP in the history of the NBA. All anybody has to do is go and look back at the tapes. He tried as hard as he could to avoid the ball. He played more scared than anyone I've ever seen; period.

I understand how Lebron James could disappear, but maybe "anonymous" could explain to me how J Kidd and D Howard disappeared for their teams. James is "the man" for the Cavs, and he is expected to be the man. But Kidd is a passer, not a scorer. And Howard does what he does based off of how much he gets the ball; and Howard has yet to arrive...yet...the league needs to prepare themselves.

As for AI; he said he wanted to play with Melo. Well, he got out of Philly, and got what he wanted. Although, it kind of sucks; because as long as he stays there, the rest of his career will be a waste, and he is an amazing talent.

At 9/10/2007 9:41 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Dirk shot 50% from the field in the regular season on 17 field goal attempts per game. Against the Warriors, he shot 38% from the field on 16 field goal attempts per game. So how can you say he avoided the ball? He was frustrated for sure, the Warriors did an excellent job of defending him. And his shot selection consisted of more jumpers than slashes to the basket. But I don't see how you can make the argument that he was scared.

And going from 25 and 9 to 19 and 10 doesn't make you "irrelevant." The Warriors game plan was to account for Nowitzki and swarm him with double teams and make his teammates beat him. They couldn't do it. By his standards, he sucked, but I honestly don't get this "he was scared and didn't want the ball" crap. Nor was Golden State a "clearly inferior" opponent. They were not a typical .500 8 seed. And the biggest factor in Miami turning the series around was Wade and nobody on Dallas being able to guard him. The Mavs have been burned in the playoffs by T-Mac, Nash, Wade and now Baron Davis. If you want to see a pattern in their playoff performances, it's piss poor perimeter defense.

Dirk has a checkered playoff history. His team is 5-0 in series-deciding games and he's come up huge in four of them, going back to the Utah series in 2001. When the Mavs were eliminated on their home floor against Miami, he threw in 29 points and 15 rebounds. In the pivotal G5 against the Heat, he had that tough runner over Shaq to put Dallas up one until Salvatore bailed out Wade, as well as the pass to Dampier under the basket when he was triple-teamed to send the game to overtime. It's wrong to cherrypick playoff moments to make the case that Player A is clutch or not clutch. For every instance of playoff failure, I can point to an example of him coming through for his team. His gotten his team to a Finals and he has 8 series wins under his belt. Among active "franchise" players, who has a better playoff resume than him? Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, Wade, Billups, maybe Kidd? For a team-oriented guy that always takes the blame when things go poorly and always credits his teammates and coaches when things go well, I've never understood the venom thrown his way. He's a top-five player in the League period. Duncan is the best big man in the game and Kobe is the best guard. Nobody else has any business winning the MVP award. I don't recall Dirk campaigning for that award either. He must shoulder some of the responsiblity for the last two playoff exits, but so should Avery getting worked over by Riley and Nellie, and so should the Mavericks' lack of perimeter defense. It's wrong to put everything at his feet.

At 9/10/2007 1:45 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

If Melo could learn to pass out of a double team rather than pulling the old elementary school trick of hugging the ball to protect it from defenders, we wouldnt be having this convo, because the Nuggets would have beaten the Spurs. There I said it. Melo just did not play that well. But he beats up on some Mexicans and now it is AI's fault. Awesome.

At 9/11/2007 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was defending Dirk, but I tend to agree with this statement:

"Duncan is the best big man in the game and Kobe is the best guard. Nobody else has any business winning the MVP award."

At 9/13/2007 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people are seriously sleeping on Phoenix. Yeah, they traded Kurt Thomas, but they never played him during the regular season, and Duncan ran over KT in the playoffs. If Diaw plays anything like his 05-06 form and Amare continues to make strides towards his 04-05 level of play, then I think Phoenix has a great chance at going to The Finals.

Plus: they added Grant Hill. That has to count for something.


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