Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

We will miss you Chauncey

Posted by mizzou1028 on February 23, 2011

Everyone on ESPN and all the national outlets are gaga about the Carmelo Anthony trade.  As a Nuggets fan, I am just glad this saga is over.  There are enough other places where you can read about his impact on the Knicks, and since I don’t care one bit about that team we’re just going to focus on Denver.  I think the Nuggets actually did very well getting four players, three draft picks and cash from the Knicks, when everyone knew that Anthony was just going to sign with the Knicks as a free agent this summer. If tonight is any indication (a blowout win over Memphis) I think the Nuggets might even find that they will be a better team without an unhappy Anthony.  It seems from tonight that the players remaining are just relieved to have this saga behind them.  I think the Nuggets did well, but there is someone caught in the middle, someone who through no fault of his own got nothing he wanted: Chauncey Billups.

For people nationally, Billups’ inclusion in the trade to the Knicks is not considered a big deal.  Sure he won multiple championships with the Pistons, but he is not on the radar nationally as a star.  This is a shame really because he is one of the true good guys in the league, and perhaps the biggest reason he isn’t considered a star is because he isn’t selfish and doesn’t market himself that way.  Unlike Anthony, Billups doesn’t crave Sportscenter highlights and marketing visibility.  For those of us here in Denver, Billups is a local icon, and for many (including me) was perhaps the only reason the Nuggets were remotely worth watching this year.

For those of you who don’t know, Billups is perhaps the best high school player ever in Colorado, winner of multiple state titles.  He led the CU Buffs to a rare NCAA tournament appearance in the 1990s.  He was the third overall pick in the draft by the Celtics.  Simply put, he is the local boy done good.  Before Billups got traded to the Nuggets, annual first round playoff exits were the norm and the team had no leader (no, Anthony doesn’t qualify.  You must be a team player to be a leader).  It says a lot that the Nuggets went from first round flameout to conference finalist the instant Billups arrived (in a trade for Allen Iverson, another me first scorer).  Billups is one of those players who lets his play speak for itself, brings championship experience that most teams don’t have, and makes his teammates better.  He is a player who I would call a glue, and I think the Nuggets are going to miss him a lot more than they will Anthony.

While I like Ty Lawson and the newly acquired Raymond Felton at the point guard position, Billups will missed for both his on court play (he’s one of the few guys on the Nuggets who played defense with any consistency), and more so for his leadership.  Let’s hope that some of Billups’ experience rubbed off on Lawson during the last year and half, because the Nuggets are going to need him to be one of the new leaders of the team.  I do think the new mix of players will actually give the Nuggets some nice pieces, especially Danilo Gallinari, who can score his share of points.  I am hopeful that without the cloud of the Carmelo saga hanging over the team, the locker room will become more relaxed and the Nuggets will start to play better as a team.  I am happy to tell Anthony not to let the door hit his backside on the way out, but Chauncey will be sorely missed.

Advertisements

Posted in basketball | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is Carmelo the next to leave Denver?

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 20, 2010

It’s pretty obvious that Denver is a football town, especially this time of year, but Carmelo Anthony is doing his best to steal headlines and garner attention, and not in a good way.  In a summer where the country was swept by LeBron mania (or had it shoved down its throat, depending on your level of NBA interest), Anthony has had in front of him a 3-year $65 million extension that he has been sitting on.  He is due to make $17.1 million this coming season and has a player option to make $18.5 million in the 2011-12 season.  Needless to say, the Nuggets are doing everything they can to try and stroke Anthony’s ego and make him feel like the franchise player.  Anthony has so far not signed the extension, which at first didn’t seem like a big deal but has now snowballed to the point where numerous reports say he wants out and will only sign the extension if he is traded to a team of his choice.  Anthony hasn’t said much himself to clarify the situation, save for the following statement from his Twitter account (unedited by me, note the incorrect use of “their”): “Funny how people come up with there (sic) own analysis of a situation,” he tweeted. “I tell you boy … Unbelievable.”

Most NBA experts think it is not a matter of if Anthony will leave Denver, but when.  Much of this is of course based on speculation, and as such there is no consistent theme to the stories.  SI.com is reporting that Anthony would be willing to sign the extension if he is traded to the Knicks, Nets or Rockets.  An ESPN.com story by Ric Bucher talked about toasts at Anthony’s wedding by Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire, talking openly about joining forces in New York with the Knicks.  The thinking goes that Anthony is an east coast boy, born in Baltimore and a proud Syracuse alumnus.    There are lots of quotes from anonymous sources, usually ones who are “close to the situation”.  There is also the practical evidence that Anthony’s south Denver house is on the market, to the tune of a cool $9.5 million.  There is also a potential lockout looming in 2011, meaning the free agent market next summer may not be as desirable for Anthony is it was this summer for LeBron and his buddies.

This makes the situation tough to predict and dissect because ultimately we don’t know what Anthony is thinking. As it stands now here are the possible ending scenarios for this saga, in no order whatsoever.

– He signs the extension and stays with the Nuggets: For all we know, Anthony could be taking his time to make sure staying in Denver is the right decision for him.  House on the market aside, Anthony could be concerned about the potential lockout and may ultimately decide that the guaranteed money that is on the table for him now is the way to go, even it means he stays in Denver.  It is possible that whatever contract Anthony garners as a free agent could be significantly less than his current offer from the Nuggets.  There is also the possibility that Anthony is waiting to see who the Nuggets hire as their new general manager (Mark Warkentein and Rex Chapman were fired from the front office last month).  If that’s the case, the possibility exists that Anthony could be talked into staying.

– He says he will not sign the extension and the Nuggets trade him: The Nuggets could decide to cut their losses and deal Anthony to avoid losing him as a free agent.  They would explore the best deal among the teams that Anthony wants to be dealt to.  It is possible the Nuggets do this to cut their losses and would also be a signal that they would be starting the rebuilding process.  It is more than likely that the Nuggets would get little more than cap relief in return for their superstar for there is a proven track record of teams not getting equal value for their stars in trade in all sports.

– The Nuggets could decline his trade request and make him play out the final year of his contract: This would obviously be a very risky move, not only because they might then get nothing for Anthony if he leaves after the season, but they could also be dealing with an unhappy superstar.  In a funny way, the looming threat of a lockout could play into Denver’s favor in this scenario because it might ultimately scare Anthony into signing the extension if he feels the market next summer won’t be player friendly.  Then again, it is also possible that this would allow Anthony to bide his time and simply sign with whatever team he wants to play for next July.

I am still hopeful that Anthony will sign the extension and stay in Denver, but the realistic side of me says that is probably unlikely.  After all, even more money didn’t convince LeBron to stay in Cleveland.  I think Anthony feels that he is not viewed in the same class as LeBron, Wade, Kobe, etc.  My response to that is that Anthony has not won the way the others have.  He has only gotten the Nuggets out of the first round of the playoffs once in seven seasons.  If he wants to leave because he feels the Nuggets haven’t been loyal to him, that’s his problem because the Nuggets have done more than enough to show him that he is their franchise player.  If he wants to leave because he feels like another place is his best chance to win a championship, well, it’s not like the Nuggets haven’t tried.  Their payroll is well above the luxury tax because they’ve tried to get Anthony help.  Ultimately, whether it’s in Denver or somewhere else, Anthony will need to prove he is a winner.  Where will it be?  I hope it’s Denver but I don’t have any more of an idea than anyone who isn’t Anthony himself.  Regardless, it has long been clear that players run the show in the NBA, not coaches and executives.

Posted in basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Apology? Not In My Book

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 13, 2009

By it should be pretty obvious that Mark Cuban is well, a maverick owner, no pun intended.  I’ve certainly lost count of the times that Cuban has been fined for various antics and comments over the years, and we’ve certainly been accustomed to seeing Cuban in a Mavericks t-shirt cheering on his team courtside like a maniac fan.  I do respect many things about him, such as the fact the man responds to every e-mail (I know because I’ve gotten prompt answers from him to two queries in the past year.  Granted, he declined my request to appear on our talk show, but at least he responded).  However, I have to draw the line when the man is yelling at fans in the stands, specifically family members of the opposing team.  In this case, he shouted at Kenyon Martin’s mom following Denver’s one point win over the Mavericks in game three of their Western Conference semifinal series.

We know the cameras caught Cuban shouting at Martin’s mother, and varying reports say that Cuban called Martin either a “punk” or a “thug” in the exchange.  There is simply no place for this, period, especially from a team owner.  It is perhaps due to this exchange that certain Mavericks fans felt entitled to act like hooligans in game four.  Martin’s mom had a full cup of beer thrown on her in game four and the culprit was not ejected from the American Airlines Center as he should have been.  Other family members of Nuggets players, including La La Vasquez, wife of Carmelo Anthony, had to endure countless jeers and obscenities from the Dallas fans.  It is obvious that security did not do their job because Vasquez felt compelled left the arena before the game was over. 

Perhaps too late, Cuban did issue an apology on his blog.  While the apology is a nice gesture, the fact that it is in a blog and not face to face, or at the very least over the phone, makes it woefully insufficient.  I suppose it is public this way, but it seems to me to be, well, a chicken apology.  Honestly, how hard is it for Cuban to pick up the phone and call her?  Or, how hard would it have been for Cuban to nip things in the bud before game four and apologize then, especially when he could have done it face to face?  Better yet, why didn’t Cuban get on the jumbotron and urge his fans to behave with class?  Or made sure his security personnel were on the lookout?  Regardless, this strikes me as the Mavericks owner being scared of even talking to Martin or his mother face to face, so he’s taking the easy way out.  Think about it, if you’ve done something wrong and feel bad about it, are you going to apologize through a third party?  Of course not.  If you’re a sensible person, you’re going to clear the air face to face.  

It is my hope that the Nuggets close out the Mavericks at the Pepsi Center tomorrow night.  Not just because I’m a Nuggets fan, but because I really don’t want this series to go back to Dallas.  No fan base is perfect, but I can say with confidence that our fans in Denver aren’t stupid enough to pour beers on opposing fans, especially when that fan is a family member of a player.  (You know it’s bad when Nuggets coach George Karl says he would use a stronger word than hostile to describe the Dallas faithful in game four).  I know for a fact that Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke wouldn’t come close to engaging in an argument with anyone on an opposing team, let alone a fan just trying to enjoy the game.  I guess the point here is the owner is responsible for ALL aspects of the team, and that includes the in game environment at the arena.  Cuban could have prevented the game four foolish in the stands, and instead perhaps instigated it by mouthing off.  Further, his apology comes well short because he’s not man enough to do it face to face.  

I look forward to the positive example Kroenke and the Nuggets fans will provide tomorrow night.

Posted in basketball | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Nuggets? Maybe, Just Maybe

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 24, 2009

I have to admit that I am starting to become a believer in the Nuggets for the first time in a really long time, probably dating back to before I was in high school.  Even as they tied a franchise record for wins this season, I remained very skeptical throughout.  Heck, the one Nuggets game I attended at Pepsi Center this season, I watched them get run out of the gym by LeBron James and company to the tune of a 30-point defeat.  For years I had soured big time on the Nuggets, and really the NBA as a whole, for a variety of reasons that I have discussed in past posts.  Frankly, it’s taken until this point, two games into the playoffs, for me to turn the corner on this team.  In a nutshell, I generally find the NBA to be a much more boring version of the college game.  The reason why I might be getting interested again?  Two words: Chauncey Billups.  He has really breathed some fresh air into the Nuggets after coming in a trade for Allen Iverson.  It seems that Billups has really made everyone on the team better, and his performances the last two games against the Hornets in particular (67 points in two games) have been outstanding.  If Billups keeps playing like he has, the Nuggets might actually have a shot to not only win playoff series for the first time since, well before I was in high school, but they might have a shot at going deep in the playoffs.

Billups epitomizes what the Nuggets should be about, and what they haven’t been about for more than a decade prior to this year.  For starters he plays defense.  I mean, real genuine defense, something that has not been present in Denver for a very long time.  Not only does he play defense, he demands that his teammates do the same.  It says a lot about Billups’ character and leadership ability that the other players actually listen to him and follow his example.  In addition to defense, Billups has a reputation from his days with the Pistons that earned him the nickname Mr. Big Shot.  Billups stepped up big time for the Pistons and made seemingly every big shot when they won the NBA title in 2004.  his ability to perform in the clutch gives the Nuggets an ingredient that has been missing in the past five years when they’ve been unceremoniously bounced from the first round each year.  His numbers in the first two playoff games against New Orleans have been terrific, but it’s been the stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score that has really made the difference for the Nuggets.

From what I’ve seen of Carmelo Anthony this season, he really seems to be much more of a team player.  In retrospect, I think his experience in Beijing at the summer Olympics really helped him mature and become more of a team player.  This season he has seemed much less of a selfish player and much more apt to play within a team concept.  Witness his 13 point effort in game one.  Despite the lack of a big scoring game from Anthony, the Nuggets still benefited from a big night on the boards from him, good rhythm within the passing game, and thanks in large part to Billups a stellar effort on defense.  It appears that Anthony may be finally starting to show the maturity of his fellow draft classmates LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

When the Nuggets gave away Marcus Camby in the offseason, I thought it was a dumb move of epic proportions.  I didn’t see how they were going to be able to replace his shot blocking ability.  Turns out I was really wrong.  Little did I know that the addition of Chris Anderson, who had been out of the league for two years due to major drug issues, would more than solve the shot blocking problem.  Anderson has been in many ways the best hustle player the Nuggets have.  In addition to blocking shots he rebounds, and most of all he plays with such a burst of energy every time he’s on the court it really has a contagious effect on the rest of the team.  I really think he should have won the league’s sixth man of the year award this year.

The other role players on the team have certainly done their parts too.  Kenyon Martin has been much more impressive this year on both ends of the court.  Nene is a much different player now that he’s fully recovered from knee issues.  Guys like Dahntay Jones and Anthony Carter have stepped up big as well.  Considering the Nuggets have won exactly one playoff series in the past 20 years (the 1994 upset of Seattle), it is a very good feeling that they have managed to take a 2-0 lead on a very talented New Orleans team.  I know I’ve said this before, but the Nuggets are trying to win me over again.  If they manage to win this series against the Hornets, and especially if they can keep going beyond that, I might just be a believer again.  Heck, I might even watch their games on a more regular basis.  To be honest, I still don’t think they have the horses to compete with the Lakers or the Cavaliers, but hey, you never know.

Posted in basketball | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

An exciting sports time

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 9, 2008

Big game Thursday night for the Nuggets, as they play on the road at the Golden State Warriors.  The Nuggets find themselves in what amounts to a play-in game for the playoffs, tied with Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot in the west, with four games to play for each team.  After Thursday’s head to head meeting, the Nuggets are at Utah and finish with Houston and Memphis at home, certainly not an easy schedule.  The Warriors host the Clippers and Seattle and have a road game at Phoenix.  Connecting the dots leads to the clear conclusion the Nuggets are pretty much toast if they won’t win at Oracle Arena on Thursday.  The Nuggets find themselves in this position because they blew two games they should have won over the weekend to Sacramento and Seattle.    I still maintain they can do some damage if they do manage to get in the playoffs, but they are going to have to shore up their defense, and they can’t take any more nights off.  Ownership has invested too much in this team to see them crumble this way.  Thursday’s game could even go a long way toward determining the future of coach George Karl as well as some members of the team.  There is simply too much talent for them to miss the playoffs, but it’s looking like that could end up happening. 

………….

For those of you who claim not to be fans of hockey, I recommend you start watching tonight.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs are one of the best experiences in sports.  In hockey, more so than any other sport, there is a tremendous difference between the regular season and the playoffs.  Not to say that the regular season isn’t important, because it is, but the playoffs take on a whole new intensity.  Guys have to practically be on their death bed not to play.  Players are willing to sacrifice everything for their teammates.  I certainly realize that it’s hard to find the channel that carries the games, and it’s hard to find coverage with ESPN shoving highlights way behind the NBA and whatever else they carry on their network.  Just do yourself a favor and watch a game involving Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.  I for one am very excited to see my Avalanche back in the playoffs after a year absence, which could be a good thing as the Nuggets may miss the NBA playoffs.  Seriously though, take a look in at some of the NHL playoff action this year, for it is as exciting as any other time in sports.  I’d like to see any sports fan who actually gives the Stanley Cup Playoffs a chance and still tries to pretend they don’t enjoy watching hockey.  Anyone who would claim that is simply not a fan of sports, period. 

………………………

I am definitely excited for the start of baseball season, especially after the amazing run the Rockies made to reach the World Series last season.  I do find everyone’s expectations for the team amusing however.  Just because they made the World Series last year doesn’t mean they’ll get there every year, or even be assured to be in the mix.  There are a lot of other good teams out there that improved themselves this offseason, including the other contenders in the NL West (Arizona adding Dan Haren, the Dodgers adding Andruw Jones).  That being said, the Rockies do have a lot of talent and should field another competitive team.  It was certainly encouraging to see them invest some payroll to keep guys like Tulowitzki and Corpas this past offseason.  I just hope that when Matt Holliday becomes a free agent in 2009, that the Rockies will make sure they keep him.  Unfortunately with MLB’s economic structure, the odds are Holliday will cash in big with the Yankees or some other big market team.  Here’s hoping that the Rockies will stay committed to keeping this team together and can figure out a way to keep Holliday for the long haul.  He’s already delivered a pair of clutch home runs in this opening homestand alone, and appears to be on track for another great year.  Regardless whether the Rockies make another run at the playoffs or not, this will (hopefully) be a fun team to watch for a number of years, and that makes it much more fun to follow baseball season during the summer.

Posted in baseball, basketball, hockey | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The frustration of watching the Nuggets

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 11, 2008

At the start of the season it seemed impossible to think that the Denver Nuggets were going to miss the NBA playoffs.  They possess two of the top scorers in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson.  They have the reigning defensive player of the year in Marcus Camby.  They have a sharpshooter coming off the bench in J.R. Smith who can provide instant offense.  They’ve even had Eduardo Najera and Linas Kleiza emerge during the course of the season to fill in key roles.  Their record isn’t even that bad, 37-26, which in any other year would put them in easy playoff position.  Heck, if they were playing in the Eastern Conference instead of the West, the Nuggets would be seeded fourth in the playoff bracket if the season ended today.   Because they play out west however, the Nuggets find themselves in the number nine position in the conference, two and a half games out of a playoff spot.  The fact is this year’s playoff race out west is shaping to be more competitive than possibly any other in league history, and the Nuggets are finding themselves on the outside looking in with less than 20 games remaining in the regular season.

It’s easy to use the competitive field as an excuse for the Nuggets being ninth in the conference right now, but the bottom line is a team that talented should not be missing the playoffs, period.  What makes them so frustrating to watch at times is they’ve shown they can beat anybody, they just can’t seem to do it consistently.  Last week they blew out the Phoenix Suns and then overcome a double digit deficit to beat defending champ San Antonio.  Granted, both games were on their home court at the Pepsi Center, but they were great efforts against great teams at the right time of year.  The efforts were essentially rendered moot however, when the Nuggets followed them with a listless performance in a key division game at Utah, getting hammered 132-105.  Last night the Nuggets daunting schedule continued with a visit to San Antonio.  Somewhat surprisingly, the Nuggets held a three point lead at halftime, and led by as many as nine in the third quarter.  Despite losing the lead partly because they lost their composure, with Camby and Anthony each picking up technical fouls for arguing calls,  the Nuggets regrouped and found themselves tied with the Spurs at 100 apiece with two minutes to go.

The rest of the game illustrated much of what has been plaguing the Nuggets all year.  The Nuggets actually toughened up on defense, forcing a missed shot by the Spurs’ Tony Parker.  As has been the case many times this year, the Nuggets stood around and watched the Spurs get the offensive rebound.  Then another shot, another miss, and another offensive rebound.  The Spurs looked discombobulated on offense, and Tim Duncan drove the lane awkwardly.  He threw up a wild shot which was blocked by Kenyon Martin, but Carmelo Anthony fouled Duncan in the process of trying to help out.  For those not keeping track, the Nuggets allowed two offensive rebounds on the biggest possession of the game, and ended up putting Duncan at the foul line.  After Duncan sank the two free throws to put the Spurs up two, Allen Iverson kept the ball on the next possession and threw up a wild fadeaway jumper with a hand in his face.  Not surprisingly the shot missed the Spurs got the rebound.  Mind you there was still more than a minute remaining, so the Nuggets would have had plenty of time to get into their offense and get a good shot.  Instead, Iverson jacked up a fadeaway before even 10 seconds had elapsed off the shot clock.  After the Spurs made two more free throws following a Nuggets foul, J.R. Smith jacked up a wild three before the Nuggets could get into their offense.  The Nuggets ended up losing a game they had a chance to win, and missed a chance to make a statement by beating a top team on the road.

The other underlying theme from last night’s game was the fact that Anthony was essentially absent in the entire fourth quarter.  Looking back at the stats last night, Anthony didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter, and I’m not even sure he got a shot off in the frame.  For all that Iverson has done since coming to Denver, and he has done more than he’s gotten acknowledgement for, Anthony is the leader of the team.  For him to be that unproductive in the fourth quarter of a key game is inexcusable.  There is a reason why he doesn’t get the accolades that fellow draft class members LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have received.  Those two have led their teams to the NBA Finals.  The Nuggets have not made it out of the first round since Anthony’s arrival.  The way they’re headed this season, they could go down as the most talented team ever to miss the playoffs.  They still have 19 games remaining in the regular season, including several coming up against teams they should easily beat.  Will they step up and get it together?  It’s a question of whether we’ll see the team that’s defeated the Suns, Spurs and Celtics in recent weeks, or whether we’ll see the team that blew a 23 point lead to hapless Milwaukee and didn’t show up in Utah.  The Nuggets have the talent to be a playoff team and should be a playoff team.  That is, if they stop getting in their own way while trying to get there. 

Posted in basketball | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »