I Saw Darius Miles Play Last Night

With my own eyes...and it wasn't pretty, but whatever. It was cool. He's perfect on the Grizzlies.

Starting a tad late on my one New Year's Resolution (to blog more), and with no good reason. I admit that I've struggled quite a bit this NBA season, mainly as a result of breaking Free Darko's primary tenet of liberated fandom. I can't help it. I'm a Timberwolves fan. I hate when they lose, I love it when they win. I still struggle with KG's departure. I had to grit my teeth and simmer through those hotly contested weeks of the masses wondering whether KG is a punk. So, this has been a season of learning for me, learning to resolve cognitive dissonance, come to grips, and restructure formerly firmly held beliefs.

One of those beliefs was that I hated the Nuggets, both in an angry and pitying way. I hated them for the undeserved arrogance of Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, young Melo, and an even younger Francisco Elson. That team is gone now and with little to show for itself. Then, I pitied them for being a capable group of players fatally subjected to the stubborn dead-end run-n-lose coaching style of George Karl. The personnel on paper was unstoppable, but they were helmed by a coached who preached none of the necessities for winning in the postseason (spoiler alert: they are headed for yet ANOTHER first round exit this year).

Then I came around on Melo and recognized him to be perhaps the most unstoppable player in the league--a fitting third head to the Kobe-Lebron-? triumverate (Christ I've been throwing that word around a lot lately). Melo after his stop-snitching/weed-carrying missteps became virtually unguardable in that early season before the pissy brawl in New York that netted him that ridiculous suspension. Before the suspension, Melo looked like Charles Barkley but with an actual winner's pedigree and the capacity to play defense when absolutely necessary. He came back, though, to an Iverson-ed team that put him in a terrible position. Alongside James, Melo is perhaps the one player who could be THE ONLY GUY on his team and lead them to glory... and with the addition of Chauncey Billups, it looked like the Nugs might finally have a shot.

And then the fracture. Sure, three weeks is only three weeks. But if you peer a little more closely, Melo is not-so-slowly becoming the NBA's next great tragic figure.

2008 was a year of victory and redemption for so many. KG, Ray Ray, and Allen got theirs. Kobe was redeemed (not to mention Pau). Vince Carter became (was forced to become) an alpha dog once again. T-Mac was absolved for his failure to make the postseason because everyone blamed the Yao's absence instead. Now it looks like even Marbury might get another shot if the Celtics pick him up.

This leaves Carmelo. I said it when I hated him, but now I think it might be true: Bosh could get a ring before Melo does. Carmelo still plays third fiddle to Wade even after Wade has proved fairly useless in the post-Shaq era (not an overstatement--as weak as the East is, you would expect a Wade-Matrix-Beasley trio to dominate). Carmelo has yet to be placed in an ideal situation, what with the ins and outs of Iverson, K-Mart, Camby, and Nene. Even with Billups as an ideal sidekick, Coach Karl will forever hold him back (not to mention that Billups is in likely his last viable year). Perhaps he is simply playing the role that the league so badly needs right now: the tragic figure.

And with Chris Webber's retirement officially in stone, we might be welcoming in an entire era of NEW TRAGICS: Carmelo, Amare? Oden? Baron Davis? Let 2009 be that grimacing mask next to 2008's wide smile.

[Also, in case heads forgot, Shoals writes A LOT. HERE]

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At 1/07/2009 3:12 PM, Blogger Irwin Handleman said...

If the Olympics matter, anyone that watched them must know that only Kobe and Dwyane Wade were the true difference makers on that squad. It wasn't LeBron, and it certainly wasn't Carmelo. LeBron will get there as Kobe ages, but Carmelo will always be Carmelo. He will never escape his Carmelo-ness. He's Nick Anderson 2.0.

At 1/07/2009 3:17 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

the olympics i believe are somewhat of a point of contention between me and shoals & recluse, because it marks the pivotal moment where they all of a sudden decided wade isn't boring whereas i still think he is.

that said, carmelo is still essentially unguardable (in a way that kobe, wade, and even lebron arent) particularly because his three-point shooting has been off the chain this year.

At 1/07/2009 3:27 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Without really having any evidence for or against this, my instinct after his first couple of years was that Melo had a lot of Webber in him.

I don't think that it is really his inability to win championships, which was Webber's big fault (wrapped up in other things). Instead, I think that it is much more functional: Melo is a unique player who needs to be on a team with another big time player who, unlike AI, harnesses team play rather than individual acrobatics. He is always going to keep his team afloat, but he is really going to flourish when he gets his Webber to Sacto / Sheed to Detroit / Garnett to Boston chance. He will never take his team to a championship on his back, but he can rival LeBron's success in his middle to mid-late career with the right team on his back. This is when his will to win will allow him to gracefully ride into the sunset in ten years, as opposed his predecessors.

All of the tragic figures you mentioned just need to become aware of their tendencies and be smart when they choose a new team. They can't dick around with their careers in the way LeBron can.

At 1/07/2009 3:28 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

It's not just I decided he wasn't boring, it's that Wade's game came alive. But, respecting and understanding the ways in which Melo is still more unguardable than Wade (he's crafty, doesn't have obvious weaknesses, etc.), no one's fucking with LeBron right now in that department. Every single time he gets the ball, it's an object lesson in how badly we've misunderstood the possibility of "mismatch." It's not elliptic, incomplete types like Odom, it's colossal forces of speed and strength like James (or Artest).

Kenyon Martin is the old man's Gerald Wallace this year, and I love it.

What makes the Melo situation even more depressing is that when he's out, J.R. Smith is likely to step right in and drop 25 a night. You could imagine a school of thought that believes he made first AI, now Melo, expendable (enough), and thus will be hated forever because of it. And then he jumps off a cliff or something.

And seriously people, don't sleep on my TSB posts. They let me write whatever I want, however I want. It's just a little more topical. And frankly, everyone runs low on big ideas at some point.

At 1/07/2009 3:32 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Also when I saw this title, all I could think of was "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"

WV: hydrism=some underground hip-hop album that came out well after I stopped caring

At 1/07/2009 4:06 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

"Then I came around on Melo and recognized him to be perhaps the most unstoppable player in the league--a fitting third head to the Kobe-Lebron-? triumverate"

Uh, no. Not even close.

At 1/07/2009 4:44 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

I don't know if you could consider something a tragedy when something is self inflicted. I will never disagree with you in your stance that Melo can light it up with the best of them. But as an all around player, I think he's never had the desire to hit the glass, be an elite defender or lead. Only until Chauncey came aboard have the Nuggets looked right. Carmelo will ironically go down as an Alex English type that could score but was not special at anything else.

At 1/07/2009 4:49 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

T-Mac didn't make the postseason?

At 1/07/2009 5:35 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

ah, thanks welk. i'm not gonna edit it though. i meant the whole never-made-the-2nd-round thing.

At 1/07/2009 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberated fandome is fun, there is so much to enjoy about the game and the league (I jumped out of my seat when I saw Big Bird aka Pau Gasol running the break and making that dish to Ariza, who I love despite being a Celtics fan) except when your team is playing.

I think DWade is nice, but he is alittle clean cut for my taste. No grime. Makes him harder to like. Plus the palming.

I am not sure about Matrix or Beasley. They got talent but they also seem to have a bit of the crazies. Plus, that team is doomed until they lose Blount and Banks anyway. Those dudes are cancer and HIV.

PS the unliberated side of me says Celts get a win tonight against my least favorite team (Yao and TMac are no fun).

At 1/07/2009 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PSS After watching Darius in preseason action I neer thought he would make it back into the league. He looked so dam fragile, nothing like the guy who used to finish on the break for the Clips.

Question, did he make it back cuz his skills merit it or are the Griz giving the middle finger to the Blazers?

At 1/07/2009 6:28 PM, Blogger Morgan said...


I am of the opinion that something can be tragic when it is self-inflicted. Sometimes that might make it even more tragic.

The tragedy surrounding the characters in Lost is largely self-inflicted. It could be argued that much of the tragedy surrounding 2Pac was largely self-inflicted.

At 1/07/2009 7:16 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

I second Zeke and that was a self-inflicted dagger wound on Juliet.

At 1/07/2009 7:27 PM, Blogger The Throwback Kid said...

It's tough for me to crown Carmelo Anthony the "tragic hero" in the NBA as long as T-Mac dons a Rockets uniform. Even though T-Mac has had his streak of individual glory (2 scoring titles), his inability to stay healthy and get out of the first round has made his an endearing figure to fans and writers alike.

Melo's youth gives him ample time to redeem himself and become a great in this league. Hopefully the Summer of Lebron (2010) will bring him a new coach and needed assistance.

At 1/07/2009 7:49 PM, Blogger McFruity said...

The dream ended so quickly: "The Grizzlies waived Miles soon after their 94-87 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves." (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/jan/07/no-headline---2009-01-06-230833894376/)

And Aaron: What you're saying might have applied before, but Melo's been a different player so far this year, a better (and more attentive) defender, and a much better defensive rebounder.

At 1/07/2009 10:51 PM, Blogger Mark said...

It's gotta be a longshot at this point, but shaun livingston to the griz!? coupled with Mayo & Gay, could hark back to this sites heyday of barracking for exciting yet ultimately useless teams. Speaking of that, any idea where I may find that mehmet okur post of a few years ago with minimum effort? that ruled.

At 1/07/2009 11:49 PM, Blogger Avi said...

The fact that eight different Timberwolves blocked exactly one shot tonight makes me happy.

At 1/08/2009 1:51 AM, Blogger T. said...



(use google and input "mehmet okur site:freedarko.blogspot.com")

At 1/08/2009 2:00 AM, Blogger sportjunky said...

google is god


At 1/08/2009 10:13 AM, Blogger Reverend Paul Revere said...

"Wade has proved fairly useless in the post-Shaq era (not an overstatement--as weak as the East is, you would expect a Wade-Matrix-Beasley trio to dominate)." is absolutely an overstatement. Have you watched that team? Beasley isn't getting enough run, either because he isn't quite ready to dominate in the NBA or his coach doesn't trust him, and Marion just looks like a shell of his former self. Wade is playing ungodly right now with a roster that routinely plays Quinn and Blount. Overstatement of the year so far.

At 1/08/2009 11:09 AM, Blogger Brickowski said...

I thought this post was great and I hope you stick to your resolution. This site is definitely at its best when you're writing frequently.

But I can't agree with you on Wade or Melo. If Kobe and Lebron are indeed part of a triumvirate (and I don't think they are), it involves Wade and not Melo. His fly-by on Nene last night was a phenomenal demonstration of speed and strength. Maybe Wade sometimes lacks a certain fluidity (which I blame on his height), but dynamic displays of speed and strength are still basically why I will always watch sports.

Also, I'm surprised by the site's lack of commentary on the Vitale stunt. I mean, J.R. had Dickie V "jumping out of his seat, baby!" Sure, it was cheap, commercial and gimmicky, but it was still interesting to see where Dick's college knowledge clashed with standard NBA viewing. Obviously he'd be surprised by a prep-to-pro like Yung Rich, but, no, that was not an intentional foul at the end of the game, nor could it have even been considered a flagrant foul.

Additionally, KG and Pierce both making a talking point out of swagger reclamation was some bizarro world NBA Stars reading Shoals reading NBA Stars.

At 1/08/2009 11:21 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

My lengthy Dicky V. reaction.

Wait, what did the Celtics say about me?

I think Dr. LIC is going way overboard on this Wade thing. I understand why he sees so much in Melo, and how, in a narrative sense, Melo fits better with Kobe and LeBron. But it's like when I trash football or baseball to praise basketball—just not necessary, and a distraction, to go so far down the road of Wade-bashing. Because that's what people end up concentrating on. Like, I agree with everything he says about Melo, and nothing he says here about Wade.

Incidentally, I'd rather watch the Nuggets than any other team in the league right now, even without Melo.

At 1/08/2009 12:25 PM, Blogger goathair said...

There's not anybody else in the league on Bron and Kobe's level. Wade-Melo-maybe Bosh make up that second level of guys who want to be part of a triumvirate that won't happen until they address the fundamental flaw in their game.

And Shoals, I think Hydrism might be Tronic by Black Milk, which you should really check out.

At 1/08/2009 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we review what DWade's fundamentally flaw is again. Being on a team with a lack of size and skill doesn't mean his game is flawed.

At 1/08/2009 1:29 PM, Blogger Reverend Paul Revere said...

Seriously, has anyone just sat and watched Wade? Dude is absolutely the closest thing to a LeBron/Kobe level. I know the Olympics are a different ball game, but he was the most menacing in Beijing, and he's doing everything humanly possible to even keep the Heat afloat. That team sucks. W2 hit the nail on the head there. Stop hatin Dr. Lawyer. Melo is nasty, but as Shoals said, it's no need to put down Wade.

At 1/08/2009 1:41 PM, Blogger goathair said...

Can we review what DWade's fundamentally flaw is again.

Either his lack of a long range jump shot or his propensity for injury or both.

At 1/08/2009 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DWade is boring because no matter what he pulls off while the clock is running, eventually the game is slowed to a crawl with all the fouls he draws. This makes him an effective player, but regardless of who's drawing or shooting them, free throws totally kill a game's tempo as far as watchability. I'm not saying they shouldn't be part of the game, they're just not what we came to see, like Plastilina Mosh opening for DJ Spooky or making out with someone you know to put out on the first date.
Except I think even women don't like free throws.

wv: phess- little known LSU transfer to James Madison University

At 1/08/2009 2:56 PM, Blogger Gabriel said...

By keeping his crappy team above .500 and being incredibly efficient and suddenly turning into a 6'4 Mutombo, I would say Wade is right there with Kobe and Lebron...

And what has Melo really shown? with his tools and offensive skills he should be putting up 35+ a game to offset his lack of rebounding/assists/blocks if you want to put him in the category of Lebron, Kobe, and Wade, who have maximized and transcended their physical characteristics

At 1/08/2009 3:05 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

i'm prepared to defend my claims about wade in a subsequent post...tomorrow or early next week.

At 1/08/2009 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good call about Wade and the free throws.

I have been wondering if during the Celtics current slide they have been getting less calls. Pierce is notorius for drawing fouls and turning the game into a snorer.

At 1/09/2009 4:53 AM, Blogger Greig said...

NBA Fans must see this video. A fan in the stands at last nigh's game blows a whistle and chaos ensues. Stephen Jackson is ready to after him into the stands (again).


At 1/09/2009 10:00 AM, Blogger wondahbap said...

D-Wade is unimpressive.

We've seen Kobe average 35 ppg and nearly take out the Suns in an ultra tough West on a team that started Smush and Kwame. His game is a thing of beauty.

D-Wade is just quirky. He can jumpoff the wrong foot. So what.

At 1/09/2009 1:44 PM, Blogger pretty in tents said...

I had the pleasure of seeing the first part of the nugs home and home series with Portland, another game sans melo, and was thoroughly impressed everytime billups and j. R. Smith were on the floor together.

Which leads me to the question of why jr isn't starting at the shooting guard position?
Does his bench utility out weigh the prospect of him realizing his full scoring potential?

At 1/09/2009 3:00 PM, Blogger tray said...

You're wrong about Wade, obviously, Marion/Beasley aren't bringing much to the table. Also though, 2008 being a year of redemption for T-Mac just because he was absolved of blame for losing yet another series? Do you realize how boring he's become to watch? He played us the other day, jacked up 5 line-drive threes, none of them close, stood around a lot, had a few decent slithery drives to the basket, took a ton of jump shots, disappeared for lengthy stretches of the game. I was more entertained by Von Wafer.

At 1/09/2009 5:26 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Sadly, Tray is right about T mac. will it really be redemption is he finally does win a playoff series but does it as the third best player on his team? I guess so. Personally, I'm ususally more entertained by Wade than Kobe. But often its in the context of highlights where the freethrow-boredom doesn't come into play. I just feel like Kobe's whole shtick is beyong played out. I do still enjoy watching him fail though.
And Von Wafer getting run in Houston is pretty cool.

WV: shica - nickname of 6'9" Latvian PG with blonde highlights

At 1/10/2009 6:35 PM, Blogger lalasprinkles said...

When you post something like this, something that is so obviously biased and in direct correlation with your hate for a certain player, you lose credibility.

At 1/11/2009 2:10 PM, Blogger McFruity said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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