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