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Rick Reilly Whines about Carmelo Anthony, NBA

February 23, 2011

Yes, it's 'Melo in Pirates gear. I think it's appropriate.

Reilly is pretty terrible about most things, but when he turns into whiny, little Fanatic McDiehard, it’s pretty much the worst. And, hooray, today is one of those times. Seems ‘ol Rick is pissed off at Carmelo Anthony leaving Denver.

Let’s get to it.

In Denver, our hearts are as black as Johnny Cash’s closet, our eyes mere lumps of coal. We are the emptiest thing fans can be: an NBA city without an NBA superstar.

Boo hoo. Yep, it sucks to lose a superstar player. But the guy was leaving anyway. So at least you stuff in return for him…we’ll get to that later. Denver’s still going to be all right (both the city and the team). This isn’t a LeBron-Cleveland situation. It just isn’t.

Don’t laugh. You could be next.

Oh no! God forbid this ever happen to anyone else. Take Denver and its famously die-hard basketball fans (that’s not really a thing) as a warning!

Dude. This has happened in literally every city that has a pro sports team. Get over it.

This is what the NBA has become: very tall, very rich twenty-somethings running the league from the backs of limos, colluding so that the best players gang up on the worst. To hell with the Denvers, the Clevelands, the Torontos. If you aren’t a city with a direct flight to Paris, we’re leaving. Go rot.

San Antonio doesn’t have direct flights to Paris. I think they’re pretty good at basketball in this new, awful NBA.

There’s no rule against it, so they do it. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce beg Kevin Garnett to please come to Boston. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh connive to play in Miami. At his wedding in New York City this past July, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Paul toasted to all three playing in New York someday. Stoudemire switched this past summer. Anthony was traded there Monday. And Paul is set to enter free agency next season, bags already packed.

So what?

Great for Spike Lee. Sucks for the game.

I don’t get why this sucks for the game. Boston has won a championship. Miami probably will at some point. But recently, so have the Lakers (with Kobe and friends) and San Antonio and old Miami.

Plus, I think this is going to make the NBA better. Having multiple teams with multiple stars ups the competition, gets away from the one-on-one game, and forces other teams to get better. Sure, Boston and Miami are really good. But there are other very, very good teams out there that don’t collect superstars. They just compose their teams differently.

This doesn’t suck for the game. It sucks for Nuggets fans…but it’ll be okay. And like I said, he was gone anyway.

“The question is, will the fans support players whose egos are bigger than the game?” asks Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, who suddenly finds himself coaching a locker room full of nobodies. “Will the fans support all these players and agents manipulating things? Because if they don’t, if the switch [by fans] is abrupt enough, the league could be at a crisis point.”

Yes, they will. That’s a dumb question.

Hello, David Stern? Did you leave a wake-up call for the 21st century? Your clubs need to be able to protect their great players with a franchise tag, as the NFL does. If that isn’t priority No. 1 in your lockout talks, you need the Wite-Out.

Anyone else see the irony of pointing to the NFL as a model league in terms of lockouts? Reilly does realize there’s a really good chance of the NFL eliminating the franchise tag, right?

Anthony stuck it to Denver because he could. Teams are powerless against it. He got the city he wanted, the teammates he wanted and the money he wanted, and he got it before the lockout. It’s good to be king.

This has happened since the dawn of free agency in every sport. It happens. It’s how the game works. The NBA has a salary cap. The Nuggets will be just fine.

This has been happening in pro sports for like thirty years now, but it finally happens to the Denver Nuggets and here comes Reilly, guns blazing.

The only power Denver had was to yank Melo’s chain.

“Carmelo,” Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri said Monday night, “you’ve been traded …”

Melo held his breath on the other end of the line.

“… to the Nigerian national team.”

Oh man! Wouldn’t that have been totally awesome if they’d actually done that!? Man, Reilly should be a GM.

Imagine how hilariously awesome the NBA would be then.

Question: When all the Denvers and Memphises and Sacramentos fold because all their stars leave, whom are these SuperFriends teams going to beat? Baylor? A strong league is strong throughout, not just at the top. In other words, how will you get them to care in China, Mr. Stern, when they don’t in Portland?

Case in point: Portland’s not a bad team. (Memphis isn’t terrible either.) And they’ve been at 102.4 % capacity this season. In fact, over the last three years, Portland’s been in the top-five in attendance and have had 102%+ capacity each game.

“The whole foundation of this massive thing called pro sports is the fan,” Karl said. “You got to make the fan happy.”

Translation. I’m pissed about this.

We are not happy in Denver. Here’s why:

1. What we’re left with: We gave up a surefire Hall of Famer, who is only 26, for four New York Knicks starters. This is like acquiring the four best mountain climbers in Nebraska. Among Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov (who, I believe, doesn’t even exist), not one is in the top 35 in scoring or rebounding.

Yes, Anthony’s good, but according to John Hollinger’s player rater, he’s been the 23rd best player in the NBA this year. Good, but not great. Anthony’s a huge name and a very good player. But he’s not LeBron…or Amar’e…or (at least this year) Zach (Randolph, that is…who plays for the about-to-be contracted, apparently, Grizzlies.

Chandler and Gallinari are solid starters. Felton has shown flashes. And a lot of people think Mozgov will be very, very good. (I’m not sure though.) Plus some draft picks. Annnnd. Denver still has good players. They were 8 games over .500 with Anthony, and scored the most points in the league. They’ll lose some scoring without ‘Melo, but they basically can’t get worse at defense since ‘Melo doesn’t play any.

2. The utter, sickening irony of it: Anthony insisted the most important thing to him was not (A) getting his starlet wife, LaLa Vasquez, to Broadway, nor (B) dunking with his friends, nor (C) cranking up his Q rating on Madison Avenue. No, he said his main priority was (D) “playing for a champion.”

Why New York, then?

Umm…because they have Stoudemire. And they’ll probably get Chris Paul. And, because winning a championship was not his only motivation. And anyway, he wasn’t going to win one in Denver.

Stoudemire and Anthony will go together like peanut butter and microscopes.

Huh? This comparative simile works about as well as a butterfly.

Confusing, isn’t it? When people make no sense.

Stoudemire is a pick-and-roller. Anthony never picks and rolls. Stoudemire likes the ball in the same spots Anthony likes it. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni lives to run. Anthony likes to set up on the wing, freeze it, look it over, freeze it some more and then unleash some weapon from his incredible one-on-one offensive arsenal. It works plenty, but Stoudemire is not going to enjoy standing there and watching it.

They’re gonna be all right. This just reeks of bitterness.

Remind me: How did it go with Anthony and Allen Iverson sharing one ball?

Aging, broken down Iverson <<<<< Amar’e.

“If [Anthony would] have stayed with us, he’d have had a much better chance of winning a championship,” Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said. He’s right.

If Anthony had really wanted to play for a champion, he should’ve stayed put. The Nuggets had two big contracts expiring (kneeless Kenyon Martin’s and brainless J.R. Smith’s), which would have allowed them to sign the fresh-legged big man and the shooter they needed.

So, now they get rid of Anthony, and some others, and will have tons of cash. They can, if they’re smart, build a very, very good team. One that they wouldn’t have been able to build with ‘Melo still there.

Prediction: Anthony will never get closer to winning an NBA title than he did in Denver.

It’s half, woe is us, half, ‘Melo/Knicks suck. I can’t even keep track of it anymore.

3. The lousy thing all this does to Chauncey Billups — our native son: Billups was sucked into the vortex of a trade he wanted no part of. He deserved to end his basketball career in Denver, where it began. Instead, at age 34, he’s being fitted for a Knicks jersey and wondering how he tells his three little girls.

Think of Chauncey!!! Think of the children!!!

Thanks for the ride, Karl texted him when news of the megatrade hit. You’re one of the best winners I ever coached.

He didn’t mention texting Anthony.

Everyone’s acting like a bunch of vindictive, whining little ninnies. It’s almost like Carmelo won the team a championship or something.

4. The grinding unfairness of it all: The NBA used to work on a turn system. You will lose, but if you hang in there, you’ll be rewarded with a very high draft pick like an Anthony, and your turn at glory will arrive.

Sports. Are. Unfair. Always have been, always will be. Quit you’re stupid bitching.

Not anymore. The superstars are in charge now. Now, you lose and you get a pick, and that pick immediately starts texting his pals to see where they’ll all wind up in three years. Pretty soon, you’re back losing again.

Not really. Unless your front office is inept.

Get ready, Oklahoma City.

You wonder why the NFL continues to pull away from the NBA in this country? Three words: Green Bay Packers. Two more: Indianapolis Colts. The NFL finds a way to let cities that don’t happen to have a Versace store hang on to their great players like, oh, say, Peyton Manning.

Reggie Miller played for the Pacers for quite some time, if I remember correctly. Also, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, etc.

Just go have a beer, eat some pretzels, play golf with your made up friends, have a good cry, and then shut the hell up.

This column is so bitter.

“Melo was a big part of our team, but he wasn’t irreplaceable,” Karl said. “I think we’re still going to make the playoffs, and I think we’re going to be good when we get there.”

Now why on Earth would he think that?

“Because I believe in my guys,” Karl said.

I’m sure he does.

And soon he’ll meet them.

There you have it. Reilly being a little bitch for 1000 words.

I think it’s all a show anyway. I don’t think Reilly cares. I think he’s trying his hand at this uber-fan style a la Bill Simmons. It’s not working.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    February 24, 2011 7:09 am

    I actually agree in the sense of I don’t like the fact that the players are making these superteams… but..
    1. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I move on…
    2. I’m not as over the top NBA-apocalypse as Reily
    3. I’m also bias, cuz as a Suns fan this “let’s get together” thing put us in a bind.. but we’re slowly getting back..

    Seriously though he is acting like it’s doomsday NBA…. where was this when it happened in Miami, or for the past 4 months that Carmelo has said he was going to do this.. they all act so surprised.

  2. Nate permalink
    February 24, 2011 1:43 pm

    Two things:
    1. I’m surprised Reilly didn’t mention his own situation, which is somewhat similar to his “NBA apocolypse” view. Did he forget that he left a “team” of which he was a part of for 20-some years to join another “team” because they paid him more? Why do sportswriters think different rules apply to athletes than to the rest of the working people in this country?

    2. Great point about Reilly trying to copy Bill Simmons’ style, I think you are right on with that observation. He just sucks.

  3. Gee permalink
    February 25, 2011 1:32 am

    “Get ready, Oklahoma City.”

    The OKC Thunder did the exact same thing that Anthony did . . . except they left a city that they had been in for 4 decades!!! The owner didn’t get his free tax-payer stadium, so he sold to a buyer he KNEW would move the team. What a joke!

  4. justin permalink
    February 25, 2011 2:29 am

    Forces other teams to get better?? With what players?? If the 9 of the top 10 players in the league end up on 3 teams, what about the other 28 teams in the league?

    Also, Reggie Miller, Dirk, and Duncan all played their primes before players thought to collude. There’s a reason why not a single NBA hall of famer is in favor of this.

    When you reach just to disagree with every single point for the sake of doing so you lose credibility of otherwise valid criticism (of Rick Reilly, or anyone else)

  5. Jacques Strappe permalink
    February 25, 2011 9:48 pm

    Not a single NBA Hall of Famer is in favor of this? Are we talking about the HoFers who played when one team won 11 titles in a 13-year span? Or are we talking about the ones who played when one team won 6 in 8 years? Or are we talking about the ones who remember when reigning MVP Moses Malone signed an offer sheet to join the NBA Finals runner-up in the ’82 offseason? How about Oscar Robertson feuding with his coach until they traded him to a Bucks team featuring Lew Alcindor? There are countless other examples when you go looking for them.

    Fact is the NBA has usually been dominated by 3 or 4(or even less) “superteams” while everyone else is just hoping to get lucky in the upcoming offseason. The key difference is that the players have more control in putting these teams together than ever before and apparently that’s making everybody lose their shit. But if having only a couple teams that could realistically win a title in any given year is “bad for the league” then I guess the NBA has just never been a good league.

  6. Mark permalink
    February 27, 2011 12:58 am

    Get ready Oklahoma City? Does Reilly honestly have no idea that Kevin Durant signed a five year extension that starts next year and includes NO opt out clause? He also seems blissfully unaware that Bosh and Lebron played seven years before leaving their teams, and Melo seven and a half. No highly drafted star leaves his team after three years anymore. Perhaps one day the worldwide leader in sports will require columnists to have a basic knowledge of, you know, sports.

  7. Jacques Strappe permalink
    February 27, 2011 8:45 pm

    True, seven years is a decent amount of time. It’s longer than Babe Ruth was with the Red Sox. It sounds like Reilly doesn’t want players to have any say in where they play, and wants to bring back the “indentured servant” style of early MLB.

    Except for Chauncey Billups. He should be allowed to stay in Denver if he wants.

  8. Ralph permalink
    February 27, 2011 11:36 pm

    Mssr. Strappe got the credited response.

    Also, Reilly’s Portland-China analogy needs some explaining. How will Chinese kids will find basketball more appealing when Portland fans are happier? My impression is that exciting superstars, like MJ or Kobe, attract international fans, not the teams.

  9. Jacques Strappe permalink
    February 28, 2011 10:25 pm

    If anything history has shown that “superteams” like Manchester United find an international audience more than parity does.

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