Bearings on my T-Shirt
This wasn't going to be a DEATH OF THE BIG MAN post, but screw it. Welcome to the DEATH OF THE BIG MAN era. The AI-for-Billups trade seals the deal. What a fantastic occurrence. This deal is good for both sides, except Denver has way more to lose. All I hear on the message boards is how, yay, Carmelo finally "has a legit point guard" (taken from ESPN's featured comment), but I'm not sure Billups was ever a true (read: pass-first) point guard. He's had some good assists averages with the Pistons over the years, but ironically I think where he'll help most is giving the Nugs a legit outside shooting threat. Wait a second. Is Billups just a more battle-tested clutcher version of Andre Miller?
Who cares. The focus of everything is back on 'Melo, and I am looking forward to 'Melo leading the league in PPG. Plus, Billups' experience cannot be overrated here. He is the type of dude to get the Nuggets past the first round.
[Also, it's officially appropriate to use the nickname MCNUGGET again!!!! This trade is AWESOME.]
Of course the more significant aesthetic component of the trade is Iverson in Detroit, which is immediately giving me flashbacks to the first 15 seconds of this:
Iverson belongs in Detroit like Nick Saban belongs in Alabama. I think this is going to reignite Sheed and Rip's hunger, and have the exact same effect on the team as when Rasheed joined in the 03-04 season. Also, I love how implicitly the entire league seems to want to make AI happy. Give him C-Webb, trade him to a contender (Denver), ok, trade him to a REAL contender. If KG gets a ring, it's just dead wrong if AI doesn't get his.
And so it is, little guys rule the earth. The fall of Oden opening was no coincidence. It was a signifier...
I'm hopped up on some ill green tea right now so I'm having a hard time gathering my thoughts, but let me keep it on the topic of guard dominance would like to point everybody's attention to Russell Westbrook, who I had the pleasure of watching last night. If Westbrook isn't starting over Earl Watson by December, I'm putting a bounty out on PJ Carlessimo who has been killing this team with his starting lineups since last year (PUT KD AT PF, and make Jeff Green sixth man!!!). I'm not sure I'm sold on Westbrook being as good as Derrick Rose, and it's too early to put him on that CP3/Deron Williams level, but the kid is just sick at getting to the rim...
...and it appears "ability to get to the rim" is the new zeitgeist, replacing "ability to play with his back to the basket" as the new championship requirement. I heard some Paxson quote where he was talking about Beasley versus Rose and how in the end it wasn't even close because you "NEED" a guy who can penetrate and get to the cup. Obviously this is nothing new. The Spurs and Lakers champ teams of the early 21st century mastered the inside-outside game with Kobe/Manu/TonyParker/etc breaking down an entire team's defense with penetration, and Rajon Rondo played a critical role for the Celts last year simply in his ability to get in the paint. But of course a central component of the inside-outside game is INSIDE component--the Shaq or Tim Duncan who makes people pay down low. Might we be entering a new age of total little man domination?
Qualifier on DEATH OF THE BIG MAN: Shaq and Duncan and Yao and Amare will continue to tip scales. But I am finally willing to admit that the big man haslost primary relevance. Whereas the last five years set up an environment where guys like Jerome James and Loren Woods could make zillions just because they were seven feet tall, we are approaching an age where Anthony Carter and Jamaal Tinsley might soon be making those millions instead.
Last thing, I would like to remind all of you to VOTE.
This is another thought for another day, but I've spent many a long night wondering whether an Obama presidency would be good or bad for professional basketball. Sure, it would make those NBA Champions visits to the White House less awkward and the sport itself may gain a little more public exposure in the form of errant paparazzi snaps of the president shooting hoops instead of riding on a segway. Maybe it will revive the Michael Jordan analogy. But maybe this Obama as end-of-racism utopia that morons like Dinesh D'Souza, bright guys like Paul Krugman and many others have pushed could adversely affect The Association, to the extent that the NBA is a racialized sphere (which let's face it, it is...). In this reconfiguration of things, Obama stands as some sort of odd contrast to the NBA, not to mention that I think his campaign has expended a lot of white people's "racial" energy. Anyway, I should probably continue this when I've settled down and am not free associating. Perhaps tomorrow. I can't wait for this election to be over.
oh, and on a concluding Note: Click here if you want to see THE RETURN OF STYLE.