That is until now.
When I look back on the history of the NBA, no two pairings in my opinion are more similar than when Monroe bolted from Baltimore to New York to form one of the best back courts, arguably, in the game’s rich history. But is the story of Pearl and Clyde going to end with the same fairly tale conclusion as ‘Melo and the Answer? Time will tell the story on that, but when the numbers are scrutinized, and if history is any indication, I think that I might have ideas about what is going to transpire.
Please allow me to go out on a limb here (surprising, I know)…
When Monroe left Baltimore in 1971, he was averaging better than 23 points, nearly five assists, and three rebounds. Clyde was posting 23 points, coincidence for our purposes seeing as Anthony and Iverson are both averaging better than 31 points currently, nearly six assists, and almost seven rebounds. When the two were paired they formed a formidable duo. Much like our boys AI and Anthony. That 1971-72 season, the New York Knicks made it all the way to the NBA Finals before succumbing to Jerry West and the Lakers in five games.
NBA history had shown that when two players of equal prowess were paired in the middle of a season that based on talent alone, plus some other great players on that Knicks team-like the ones on the Nuggets, the Knicks were a better team than they were the year before. Monroe’s individual numbers dropped for the rest of his career, mainly because he was an individual superstar in Baltimore, but within the next calendar year he and Frazier would capture the NBA title!
Frazier’s numbers dipped for the remainder of the pairing too, but what needs to be taken from this post is that what was collectively accomplished on those New York Knick teams was much greater than what either man had accomplished individually. I expect Iverson’s individual numbers to drop slightly over the remainder of his career, but it will be the rise of his maturity and what he has learned from his previous defeat in the Finals that will take the Nuggets to the promise land. I also think that Carmelo’s scoring average will lower a touch too, and possibly give a guy like Gilbert Arenas or even Joe Johnson a shot at this year’s scoring title, but what should matter to the Nuggets is a post season improvement.
Is a championship going to materialize this year? Probably not. But if history likes to repeat itself… Next year could be the Nuggets year! Remembering the conflicting styles of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Walt “Clyde” Frazier, and how both came together and put their individual personas aside and accomplished a feat that so few players throughout NBA history have accomplished. I think that the Nuggets have more than a sporting chance.
Also, for the record, I would like to point out that both Frazier and Monroe finished with near identical scoring averages for their careers. Clyde finished with an average of 18.9 points and Pearl finished with 18.8, respectively. Both men are in the Hall of Fame now, and are forever paired in hoops legend. Whether or not AI and Carmelo will conclude in a similar fashion is way too far in the future to ponder, but I like to compare history to the present. Could this be a similar pairing? Regardless of whatever happens; I will always have the memory of seeing Iverson’s first game as a Nugget.