Thursday, August 31, 2006

Funniest Article I Have Read In Awhile

(Boulder-CO) J.E. Skeets has put up an article that is down right hilarious concerning the “Usual Suspects” found at the local pick-up game. I highly suggest that the readers of The Nugg Doctor check it out at The Basketball Jones. It had me rollin’.

The exact link is:

Very funny stuff!

The Genesis Will Begin in Durango, CO

(Boulder- CO) The Denver Nuggets announced recently that they will be starting off the 2006-07 season by holding training camp in Durango, Colorado at Fort Lewis College. About an hour and a half south of Denver and nestled nearly 7,000 feet above sea level. The new Nuggets should have no problem adjusting to the altitude by practicing October third through the seventh at such altitude before returning to about 5,200 feet above sea level back in Denver.

George Karl has already said that he understands that Carmelo needs a little R&R after the FIBA Championships, but is expecting great things out of this year’s team. I do not think that 50 wins should be too far out of the realistic grasp of the changed Nuggets. They won 46 games with all the late and problematic developments last season, and have only done things to improve their situation this off-season.

Leaves Changing with the Season and With The Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) As I comb through the rumors on, I almost can’t believe what my eyes are reading for my brain to decipher. There is a report that Kenyon Martin has been playing in half court games, totally optional at this point in the waning days of the summer, and George Karl calling him, “The best guy on the court most days.” Did the old veteran coach receive a Hallmark card written by god himself and could these two men have put their differences behind them? Oh Lord, say it could be so!

My mouth salivates to the point of filet mignon type moisture when I think about George Karl also saying that Kenyon Martin has, “Bounce”, in his step. Still wet on the chops, I’m thinking about possibly the toughest front court in the NBA when you factor in a healthy, and happy, Kenyon Martin, a revamped Nene, cagey and crafty veteran Joe Smith, Camby (the league’s best shot swatter), always hustling Eduardo Najera, and Jamaal Sampson. Could the Nuggets cease being their own worst enemy this season? Oh Lord, say it could be so!

Images of Yakhouba Diawara being wet from the three-point arc and J.R. Smith catching alley-oops from Andre Miller before yoking on teams league wide are making me giddy. Carmelo Anthony potentially raising his already impressive scoring total while also adding more assists to the box score due to people ready to accept the rock out of the double team. All these things seem like pipe dreams when I think about the way last season ended, but at this point, they could be reality. Please let them be reality.

This team has just about everything they need, except for Andre Miller’s long ball, to no longer be the whipping boy in the first round of the playoffs. Plus, Carmelo Anthony summed it all up with a quote from the Denver Post. He told everyone in Las Vegas to leave their egos outside the gym. Hopefully self-destruction and mutiny will not be part of this year’s campaign and Anthony can continue to lead as he once did with the Orangemen. If he can lead the USA. And he can lead the Syracuse Orangemen to the promise land. He can lead the Nuggets. Change is good and as the trees in Colorado metamorphous for the changing season. It is nice to see the Nuggets following suit.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is There Any Doubters?

(Boulder-CO) Team USA continues to find ways to emerge victorious as they beat Team Germany 85-65 early this morning. It took perseverance against the Germans because in the breaking hours of Wednesday morning the USA found themselves in an absolute street fight with only a one point lead after half. The USA was playing strong defense, but was having trouble finding that characteristic boost early in the game. Redundantly, Carmelo Anthony rose to the occasion when his team was in need and led all scorers, recorded the most steals, and chipped in on the boards. Leaving me with one question for the basketball world. Is there any doubters out there who think that Carmelo is not the MVP of this team?

Anthony scored 19 points, swiped three steals, snared four rebounds, and only had two turnovers in the 24 minutes he played. He was also instrumental in the 27-13 run the USA put on the Germans in the third period. The USA put together a very similar run against the Australians and such runs have been their calling card in these championships.

The United States will be facing off against Greece on Friday in the second of the two semi-finals. On the other side of the bracket the other two undefeated teams, Spain and Argentina, will face when the ball is thrown up in the air for the tip-off prior to the USA and Greece.

Other players of note were Chris Bosh with ten points, seven rebounds, and a block while going 4-5 from the field and LeBron James with 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists despite turning the ball over a team-high seven times.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nuggets Off-Season Report Card

(Boulder-CO) It is time that I get out my red pen, comb through the archives, and comprehensively evaluate all that has happened since the Nuggets got tied to a pole and, oh sorry I had visions of a gang initiation, lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in five games. That’s right fans, with school starting nation-wide for college and other students the same it is time for the Nuggets off-season report card.

Let us first start with the Nuggets grade for writing and arithmetic. Signing Nene and Carmelo Anthony to long and expensive contracts leaves me with a odd feeling. While it was nice to know that the only superstar that the Nuggets have had in the last ten years will be with us for awhile. The signing of Nene for $60 huge makes me wonder if the same team doctors that cleared Kenyon Martin’s knee were the same doctors that evaluated Nene. The Nuggets can not afford to have only two good knees at the power forward position between two good players. Also needing to be lumped into this grade is the acquisitions of Joe Smith, J.R. Smith, and Jamaal Sampson. I going to give the Nuggets a little bit of extra credit for going out on a limb and landing J.R. Smith because I believe that he can really establish himself in Denver and allow his athletic ability, which has never been in question, to mature into a sustainable NBA game. I also am favorable of the deal for Joe Smith. Joe Smith is a crafty veteran and at nothing else gives a MMR shot to the Nugget locker room. I’m impartial to Sampson. He is a big body that can bang and put some bruises on opposing centers, but I’m not expecting too many double-doubles. All of these moves were made without popping the NBA luxury tax, another gold star on the Nuggets chart.

Overall Grade in Writing, (signing), and Arithmetic: B & B+

Switching subjects now and taking an evaluation of the Nuggets history grade conjures up thoughts of Kiki Vandewedghe and the still vacant position of General Manager. The Nuggets have still not named or have released any information about who they have been interviewing for the position for General Manager. This puzzles me, not that Warkentien has done a poor job, but this grade is directly attributed to Stan Kroenke. With no news, no rumors, and little to document in this position. This grade is not going to be good.

Overall Grade for History: D

The grade for physical education is directly attributed to the one and only Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo has been nothing short of spectacular for Team USA and should be a shoe in for MVP in the FIBA Championships. He has stepped up his game amongst a team of his peers, and other superstars, and opened the eyes of everyone that thinks that the only two players in the 2003 draft were LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Maybe a little bit exaggerated, but the point is that Anthony has obviously been working on his game this off season and may have the best jab step in the league. His jumper is looking pure and his outside shot is improving. All snaps in this department.

Overall Grade for Physical Education: A-

The final subject for scrutiny, and I choose that word with meaning, is reading. The Nuggets may have the tightest lipped front office in the whole NBA. This makes for tough news leads and often times shocking headlines when things do happen. There has been little to no word about Marcus Camby or Andre Miller this off season. They could be in Fiji sipping fu-fu drinks with umbrellas in the fishbowls as well as in the sand and Nuggets fans would have no idea. I believe in privacy in athlete's lives, but sometimes the fan has to be thrown a bone. We care about this team and its players. A human interest story now and then on the Nuggets official web site wouldn’t kill anyone.

Overall Grade for Reading: C…barely!

So after taking a look at the Nuggets off season thus far there are some bright spots and some areas of question. The Nuggets do graduate from the 2005-06 season. Only because I think that they will improve on last season's record, but the dead moose on the table that no one wants to speak of is will the Nuggets graduate from the first round of the playoffs?

NBA Carnival 35: The Nugg Doctor Debut

(Boulder-CO) I have participated in the latest NBA Carnival. It is the first time that I have ever been apart of such an event, but am honored to do so. I submitted the Historical Glimpses article on Bob Lanier because I think he is too often overlooked by today's young fan. Thanks to BenchRenaldo for hosting this great conglomeration of writers and I hope that everyone who reads The Nugg Doctor will click the link and enjoy some of the best that NBA blogdom has to offer.
Bon Appetite'
The Nugg Doctor

Monday, August 28, 2006

All Eyes on Nene

(Boulder-CO) The Nuggets have been very active this summer and if you have been reading The Nugg Doctor, or have been keeping up with developments somewhere else, you know that this season should be exciting. The additions of J.R. Smith and Joe Smith are intriguing, especially if they prove to be tangible contributors, but the true question to be answered for the Nuggets will concern Nene.

Nene is coming back after a season-ending knee injury suffered in the first game of last season’s campaign. It has been rumored that Nene is in the best shape of his life. He even got married this summer back home in Brazil. There is also speculation that the knee is fully rehabbed and Nene is going to return from this injury and be the monster that he was forecasted to be. Well, maybe this is just speculation, but the Nuggets must see something they like because they were not shy dishing out $60 million for Nene’s services for the next six years. The question is will Nene be all that the Nuggets need him to be in 2006?

Nene was only in the league for three years before the unfortunate knee injury cut his 2005-06 season short. He was young, raw, and quite possibly had one of the quickest dunks in the league coming from the low block. With a body very similar in stature to the great Gus Johnson. All Nene needed to do was keep developing his game, inside and out, and keep moving up the depth chart. In his first year in the NBA, Nene played in 80 games with 53 starts. He averaged 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds. Not bad numbers by the rook, but the Nuggets have always wanted more out of the big man from Brazil.

In his sophomore season Nene was clearly blossoming into the kind of player the Nuggets thought he might be when they drafted him seventh overall in 2002. He had raised his scoring average 11.8 points and his rebounding was picking up slightly to an average of 6.5. Not Hall of Fame numbers, but the progression was there. He was a starter in all 77 games he appeared in and things seemed to be on the up and up.

His third season was some what of a disappointment. His scoring and rebounding had both gone south, 9.6 and 5.9 respectively, but what was being built upon the season before seemed to either plateau or regress. The Nuggets had weathered an interim coach in Michael Cooper, which was dreadful might I add, and had seen the arrival of George Karl to hopefully lead them to greatness. We all know what happened to the Nuggets last year, so lets talk about what this year will bring for Nene.

Optimistically speaking, Nene needs to step back into the Nuggets scene and be the kind of power forward that $60 million dollars would entitle him to. I’m talking about 16 points and twelve boards at least. Nene needs to be an automatic double-double on the Nuggets front line. A consistent starter and contributor is what the Nuggets need in their most inconsistent position. Nene should be out to prove that he is the man at the four, and leave no controversy for Kenyon Martin and Joe Smith to solve. Nuggets fans are banking on the judgment of Stan Kroenke and the knee of Nene.

But what about if he struggles? I really don’t even want to think about the mess the Nuggets will be in if this happens, but it needs to be looked at. The Nuggets will be the deepest team in the league at the four spot without a clear starter. Kenyon Martin, Nene, and veteran Joe Smith will just be shuffled around like a beat deck of cards and provide no stability to this team. Not to mention the disaster it will be to clear either Kenyon or Nene financially. Quite simply put, all eyes will be on Nene when this upcoming season begins.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One Down, Two Remain for Team USA

(Boulder-CO) The USA Basketball Team continues to roll over the competition with their latest victim being Australia 113-73. Carmelo Anthony continued his brilliant play against the Aussies by finishing with 20 points, four rebounds, three dimes, and a team leading three steals. ‘Melo was an impressive 9-11 from the free-throw line, and 3-6 from downtown. When asked if the USA has been challenged in these FIBA championships. Carmelo replied with, “Yeah, we’ve been challenged. We played Brazil in China on the way here and they were tough. Italy was probably our biggest challenge in Sapporo. Today in the first half, Australia was a challenge until we picked it up defensively. We know that Germany will be a challenge on Wednesday. They beat Nigeria tonight. We have to do our research, look at our scouting report and figure out our game plan.”

Team USA now faces Dirk Nowitzki and the German national team on Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning. As long as Carmelo keeps dominating, I will keep forgoing any type of sleep schedule to document it.

A critical point to mention about the way that the bracket is structured is Argentina and Spain are seeded on the other side of the bracket. This means that the USA will not have to potentially face either of the other two powerhouse teams until the gold medal game. Argentina is anchored by San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili. Spain has NBA All-Star Pau Gasol and his seven-foot younger brother. Both teams are considered very dangerous due to their great outside shooting and team chemistry.

Other performances of note for the USA were Chris Bosh with nine rebounds and twelve points, Dwayne Wade with 15 points and four assists, and Joe Johnson with 18 points and two steals.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Stop The Hate: Carmelo in 2006

(Boulder-CO) I have been reading a lot of the work out there right now concerning the USA Basketball team and I am appalled, and quite frankly a little hot, over all the haters that just have to say something about Carmelo Anthony’s defense. Furthermore, I plan to evaluate and disprove all the arguments out there that say Anthony has been one dimensional in these FIBA games.

Before I go any further into this analysis let me say that I am not a LeBron James hater. In fact, I admire LeBron James for his incredible overall game and am not going to, in anyway shape or form, try diminish his prowess as a basketball player or as a person. He just happens to be the one person that never seems to take any spit for his areas in statistical shadows. The one thing that is going to happen in this article is the real analysis of the statistical numbers that Carmelo is putting up in comparison to LBJ, and others, in this World Championship affair. So here is my disclaimer: If you can’t handle ‘Real Talk’ about the stats you should probably not have your basketball world rocked by the rest of this article. I can not be responsible for making Carmelo Anthony your new favorite player.

Let’s get down to business…

First and foremost, I would like to point out Carmelo Anthony has currently recorded nine steals so far in these games. That ranks him third on the team, only behind Chris Paul and surprise, surprise LBJ, with eleven and ten respectively. I know what your about to say, “Well LBJ has more steals so that must mean that he is playing better D.” You may be right, but when you look at the statistical category of turnovers. This is where you will find the truth in all this projected hate. Carmelo Anthony has only coughed up the ball four times thus far. LBJ, D-Wade, Chris Paul, and Joe Johnson have all turned it over far more times than ‘Melo. So in a heads-up comparison, LBJ has a 1:1 steal-to-turnover ratio, while ‘Melo has a much more favorable 9:4, or better than 2:1 ratio with the same analysis. This points to the fact that while both men are stealing the rock from their opponents at a fairly symmetrical rate, Carmelo doesn’t get it stolen from him or turn it over nearly as much as LBJ. Point being… Stop the Hate.

Now onto another category where Carmelo deserves some props. Only Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard are grabbing more offensive rebounds than the ‘Melo man. In addition to this stat, Kirk Hinrich is the second leading rebound collector, at 4.4 per game, behind Dwight Howard with 5.4 boards on average. ‘Melo is snatching boards at a rate of 3.4 a contest. Taking Hinrich out of the picture, mainly because he is a point guard and there is no explanation other than pure desire for his board totals, ‘Melo’s total rebounding numbers are only inferior to, guess who, LBJ with an average of 4.0, Chris Bosh with an average of 3.8, Brad Miller with an average of 4.3, and Dwight Howard with an average of 5.4. When you calculate that B-Miller, Bosh, and Howard are all big men who should grab more boards. That leaves you with LBJ and Carmelo to compare against each other. ‘Melo is hitting the O-boards harder than LBJ, but LBJ has three more total rebounds. Both men are working hard on the glass, so why is Anthony being singled out for his alleged lack of defense? Point being…Stop the Hate.

Now I’m going to flip the script and point out some areas where I think LBJ needs to take some heat if Carmelo is going to be in the cooker for his imaginary defensive deficiencies. Carmelo is hitting the three with much more proficiency than LeBron. LBJ is hoisting up treys at a 36% success rate, while ‘Melo is hitting 50% of his long range bombs. Is there anyone saying that LBJ is a poor three point shooter or has bad shot selection? The answer is no, but if ‘Melo is taking guff for not playing D, than maybe we should talk about this area of LeBron’s. Point being… Stop the Hate

And finally is the statistical category of free throw percentage. Carmelo is hitting 68% of his charity strip attempts. LBJ is only cashing in on 54%, plus has only gotten to the line for eleven attempts compared to Anthony’s 22. Does this mean that LBJ is not being aggressive taking the ball to the cup or relying on his outside shot too much? The answer again is no, but if your going to dish out the criticism on ‘Melo’s D. You should be ready to dish it out to everyone deserving it in every other facet of the game. Point being… Stop the Hate.

As I stated in my disclaimer, this article is not about hating on LBJ, or anyone else, but I felt that Carmelo Anthony was taking a lot of malarkey in an area where there really was no problem (read paragraphs three and four if you need to be reminded). Unfortunately, in a culture that constantly pits one athlete against another, we constantly look for ways to decipher who is a better player. Whether it be statistical, opinionated, or number of championships a player is critiqued by, the point is to Stop the Hate! Since I last checked there is no perfect player in the NBA, or the world for that matter. Take each player for what they are doing within the whole schematic of the game and not for what they could have done better. The bottom line is Team USA needs to win this FIBA Championships and return the USA to the level of basketball it is known for. In the 2004 Olympics the USA was embarrassed because of too many stars all wanting to dominate the lime light, and as we all witnessed, that made for an extremely sour ending. Point being…Stop the Hate in 2006!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time To Shine For Carmelo

(Boulder-CO) So if there was any doubt who the leader of this USA Basketball team is it was silenced today against Italy. Carmelo Anthony IS the leader of USA Basketball and anyone who was up early enough to catch it knows that to be fact. 4:30 am never looked so good for Nuggets fans or anyone else who enjoys watching Carmelo Anthony.

In a game that saw the USA down by twelve in the third quarter, Carmelo Anthony decided to step his game up for the entire country. Anthony was volcanic as he led the USA in scoring, again, with the USA Basketball single game scoring record of 35 points. ‘Melo also added five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in an instrumental effort that fruited a victory over Italy 94-85.

This new scoring mark eclipsed the old mark of 34 points set by Kenny Anderson in 1990. Now the undefeated USA has locked the top seed and will face a winless Senegal on Thursday. Not overlooking a dangerous Senegal will be paramount for the USA to carry over this momentum to the final eight in this FIBA World Championship.

When asked about his record setting game, Carmelo said, “In the second half, I hit a couple shots. I got it going after I got a tip-in from the free throw line. It really boosted my confidence. I was trying to get one of those the whole tournament. That was kind of the tip-off to get me going. I knew once my outside shot was going that it would open it up for the inside drive and for my other teammates, also.”

Like I said, 4:30 am never looked so good!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jack of All Trades, Call Him ’Melo

(Boulder-CO) The USA Basketball team continues to roll over opponents with the addition of today’s trounce of Slovenia 114-95. Among statistical leaders was once again the Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony. ’Melo continues to contribute in a barrage of methods by scoring 14 points, pulling three boards, and sleuthing three steals. All in a accustomed 21 minutes of play delegated by Coach K.

Dwayne Wade led all scorers with 20 points, and surprisingly, Kirk Hinrich was the top rebounder for the USA with seven. Chris Paul added nine dimes as the USA looked dominating from the opening tip.

The USA faces off with Italy at 6:30 AM ET Wednesday. Getting up this early has been tough, but watching the USA seemingly return to dominance makes it worth it. Both teams are undefeated so far in these 2006 FIBA championships. Italy is coming off a victory over Senegal 64-56 today. It will be important for Team USA to dictate the tempo of this match-up with Italy. The USA comes in averaging 115.3 points per game in these FIBA Championships. While Italy only averages 76.

A New Logo For The Nugg Doctor

(Boulder-CO) I have been working on some new logos for The Nugg Doctor. You will notice a prototype where the old banner used to be. Any critiques, comments, or suggestions are always appreciated.

Monday, August 21, 2006

One More Time Around The Mill

(Boulder-CO) The Nuggets may be in the negotiations with three other teams that could potentially land Corey Maggette in the Mile High City. Details are sketchy right now, but from the sources that I have consulted. The deal appears to be structured as follows; Mike Dunleavy Jr. would go to the Clippers, Joe Smith would end up in the Hawks, Corey Maggette would become a Nugget, and the Golden State Warriors would acquire Al Harrington in the deals completion. The finances and draft pick exchanges are extremely foggy right now, but if there was a trade that seemed to put the Nuggets on the winning end of the stick. This would be it.

Corey Maggette would be a dream come true for the Nuggets as a starting shooting guard. He has one of the best bodies in the NBA, and as the Nuggets saw in the first round, he can be a headache to guard. Maggette lit the Nuggets up for an average of 17 points per game and continued to keep the scoring consistent by posting an average of 14 points per game against Phoenix. In the regular season, Maggette averaged 17.8 points, but more impressive than that is he hit the glass on both the defensive and offensive end in the playoffs. Maggette was snaring 7.3 boards a game in the 2006 playoffs, averaging better than eight against the Suns. He essentially provides the Nuggets with a second option on offense and could relieve some of the rebounding stress the Nuggets feel when Earl Boykins runs the point.

Would I be glad that Corey Maggette, even though he is a Dukie, were to become a Nugget? The answer is damn straight! This guy causes all kinds of match up problems because of his strength and athleticism and could instantly become the Nuggets number two scorer. Place him in the starting line up with Camby, Nene, ‘Melo, and Andre Miller and we got a legit five that can bang with anyone.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Historical Glimpses: Billy “The Kangaroo Kid” Cunningham

(Boulder-CO) The time felt right for this installment to drop for all the hoop aficionados in the world. The dog days of summer time are here, the ice in your lemonade has melted, school is starting for many, and the seasons are changing. Widely regarded as one of the best small forwards in the history of the game, the man dubbed, “The Kangaroo Kid”, because of his leaping ability, often gets forgotten.

Basketball legend would take its first steps in Brooklyn, New York. As a high school player at Erasmus Hall, Cunningham was named MVP of the Brooklyn League in 1961. That same year, he would take home accolades of First Team All-New York City and was a Parade All-American selection. New York is widely accepted as the Mecca of basketball and to be named to the First Team All-New York City helped in taking Billy to the next level.

That level was the historic University of North Carolina. As I have leaked in previous Historical Glimpses, freshman were not permitted to play on the collegiate varsity level back in those days. So it would be 1963 before Cunningham would be draped in baby blue. When Cunningham did get on the hardwood he wasted no time making his presence felt. In a 1963 game against the Clemson Tigers he grabbed a record 27 rebounds. Next season, Cunningham set the single game scoring record for the Tar heels when he scorched Tulane for 48 points in 1964. His years at North Carolina were spectacular and upon their conclusion Billy had inked his name all over the record books. Leaving Chapel Hill, Billy had posted a career average of 24.8 points per game, while caroming 1,062 career rebounds for an average of 15.4 boards per night. Impressive on the glass was Billy’s forte and his single season rebounding record of 16.1 rebounds a game in 1963 is still a UNC record. He was All-ACC from 1963-65 including ACC player of the year in his senior campaign. That same year he was an ACC Academic All-Conference selection and an All-American selection by the Helms Foundation.

“The Kangaroo Kid” was drafted to the NBA with the fourth pick, seventh overall due to the territorial draft having three earlier selections, in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers. Posting averages of 14.3 points, 2.6 assists, and an impressive 7.5 rebounds landed Cunningham on the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1966. The following year Billy and the historic 1967 76ers would set the record for most regular season wins by being victorious in 68 of 81 games. With Cunningham as the sixth man, a concept pioneered by the great Red Auerbach, the 1967 76ers were the most dominating force that the NBA had ever seen. And broke up a string of championships by the Celtics that was eight years running. That mark would later be bested by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971 with 69 wins, and once again in 1995 by the current record holding Chicago Bulls with 72 victories. But those accomplishments will never overshadow what the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers accomplished because they broke what was the greatest sports dynasty ever.

Billy would continue his career with Philadelphia for the next five years before leaving the NBA for the ABA in 1972. Cunningham would return to his alma mater state and join the Carolina Cougars for the next two seasons. In his first year with the Cougars, Billy would average 24.1 points, 6.3 assists, and 12 rebounds. Also in that year he would run away with the ABA’s Most Valuable Player award while leading the Cougars to an ABA best 57-27 record.

After his brief stint in the ABA, Billy would return to the Philadelphia 76ers for the remainder of his playing career. In 1975 disaster struck on the Kangaroo Kid when he suffered a devastating knee injury that limited his appearance to only 20 games in that final season, but Billy’s involvement with the NBA was not over.

For eight seasons Billy would coach the 76ers. In those eight seasons the Philly team only finished below .500 once, and his winning percentage as a coach, (.698), is only second best to the great Phil Jackson. Not to mention that the 76ers championship run in 1983 with the great Dr. J and Moses Malone still holds the postseason win record at a mark of 12 and 1. Billy Cunningham concluded his basketball career winning a World Championship as a player with the 1967 76ers, and guiding the 76ers to the NBA promise land as a coach in 1983.

His career accolades are astonishing. They read as follows; First Team All-NBA honors in 1969, ‘70, and ‘71, Second Team All-NBA honors in 1972, NBA All-Star four times starting in 1969 and ending 1972, All NBA Rookie Team in 1966, ABA MVP in 1973, his number “32” will never be worn again by a Philadelphia 76er, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985, and honored as one of the NBA’s greatest 50 players of All-Time. Billy Cunningham played 11 seasons of professional basketball in his career and has averages in the NBA of 20.8 points, 4 assists, and 10.1 rebounds putting him in the 20 & 10 club forever. His ABA averages are just as marvelous at 23.1 points, 5.9 assists, 11.6 boards while playing two years in the free-running and free-spirited league. At a mere 6’6”, The Kangaroo Kid will forever be remembered for his amazing leaping ability, desire to rebound, innovative scoring, and quite possibly being the best sixth man ever. Enjoy Billy Cunningham, hoop aficionados, he truly was one of the best.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Keep Your Swerve On ‘Melo

(Boulder-CO) The USA Basketball team continues to ride the consistency of the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony. ’Melo guided Team USA to their first win in the FIBA World Championships by scoring 21 points, dishing three assists, snaring two boards, and sneaking one steal in the opening game against Puerto Rico. This impressive stat line was all wrapped up within only twenty minutes of playing time.

The USA resumes play tomorrow against China. When Carmelo was asked about tomorrows match-up he had this in reply, “Tomorrow’s game is going to be even tougher than today’s game. I think China was in the stands today scouting us, so it’s going to be tough. We just have to be prepared and go out there and play hard.” Team USA needs to keep feeding Carmelo the ball. He is playing the best basketball of anyone on the team right now and seems to be perfectly suited for the style of international play.

When asked if this victory relieved some of the pressure that the USA Basketball team is under to return from these championships with the gold medal. Carmelo quickly and emphatically answered with, “No, no, no. No relief. This is one game under our belt. Tomorrow we have another one. We have to put this game behind us and get ready to play China.” Serious words from a player that was not utilized by the coaching staff in the 2004 Olympics. If there was ever any question of the goal of this FIBA World Championship Tournament for Team USA. Anthony’s reply to the last question should clear that up. This team is out for gold. Plain and simple.

Team USA does gets to taste a little bit of revenge as they avenge a loss to Puerto Rico suffered back in the opening game of the 2004 Olympics. The Puerto Rican team came out hot off the opening tip and had Team USA down by one after the end of the first period, but could not hold off the determined USA. Carmelo Anthony stepped up for the states by draining a three pointer and added two other buckets in the second quarter to help Team USA be up by five right before the half. Team USA never looked back and beat Puerto Rico 111-100.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Captain for Team USA

(Boulder-CO) The USA Basketball team has selected Carmelo Anthony as one of the three team captains for the 2006 World Championships. The other two captains, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, were basically no-brainers. All three men are from the NBA Draft class of 2003 and are quickly becoming the new faces of the NBA. D-Wade, ’Melo, and LBJ are now leading the final squad, sorry Bruce Bowen, against the World’s best international teams. Carmelo currently leads team USA in scoring at a mark of 16.8 points per game.

When asked about his decision to elect ‘Melo and the others as captains, team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “It was a pretty easy decision to select those three guys. From the very start they have asserted themselves and showed leadership through how hard they worked, their cooperation and the fact that they wanted to be like everyone else. They didn't come in as stars, they came in as members of the team. Everyone looks up to them and they look up to them even more now because they have set such a good example.”

High praise from about as respected of an opinion on basketball, and character, as there comes. Melo has been scoring very effectively within the team USA offense. Not forcing shots, moving without the ball, and finishing on the fast break have all been areas where Carmelo looks to have improved his game considerably this off season. It could be that great players are making each other better, but Melo has really been a standout and deserves this honor. Well done Carmelo, well done!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Historical Glimpses: Robert Lanier

(FortCollins-CO) Not wanting to cover the most redundant hoop heroes that the NBA has produced left me searching since my last installment. My main focus is to honor those whose careers often times get overlooked by today’s younger fans. A fan that in my opinion, doesn’t have the greatest relationship with the history of the game that I love so much. And certainly a fan that, for the most part, doesn’t recognize the older generation of basketball greatness as they truly should be remembered. For this reason I am dedicating this edition of Historical Glimpses to probably one of the most over looked players of his generation. That player is Robert “Bob” Lanier, one of the most physically intimidating, statistically impressive, and skilled centers that ever played in the NBA.

Bob Lanier’s basketball greatness was first solidified at St. Bonaventure University where he simply dominated, and re-wrote the record books. The 6’11’ - 260 pound Lanier was a four year letter winner at St. Bonnie and a three time Converse All-American selection from the years 1968-70. In the East Coast Athletic Conference, Lanier was voted player of the year in 1970, and was later named to the All-Decade Team for the entire 1970’s! When his time at St. Bonnie was over. Lanier finished by being the schools All-Time scoring leader with 2,067 points, (currently third all-time at this point in time), All-Time scoring average leader with a post of 27.5 ppg, the school's All-Time leading rebounder with a career total of 1,180, the All-Time rebounds per game leader with an average of 15.7 boards per contest, the career field goal percentage leader at a mark of 57%, the single game rebound record with a 27 board performance coming against Loyola of Maryland in 1967, and the single game scoring record mark of 51 points set against Seton Hall in 1969. After all was said and done, Lanier’s collegiate jersey number 31 was retired and raised to the gymnasium rafters.

The professional chapter of Bob’s career would pick right up where his collegiate career ended. Being the first overall selection in the 1970 draft by the Detroit Pistons meant that there was already high expectations of Lanier. In his rookie campaign, Lanier would post marks of 15.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He played in over 2,000 minutes in that season making him a true iron man of a center. The league didn’t keep track of blocked shots in 1970, but Lanier was one of the leagues most prolific shot blockers too. Nothing came cheap if Lanier was in the lane.

In his sophomore season, Bob Lanier really found his niche. In a season that saw Lanier play almost 3,100 minutes of NBA action. It was a rarity that Lanier was ever on the bench. He scored 25.7 points per game, snatched 14.2 rebounds a night, and dished 3.1 assists to his teammates every single time the Pistons took the floor. This was Bob’s coming out party and would set the mark for the majority of the seventies.

In the first nine seasons that Bob Lanier would play with the Pistons he would have an average of twenty points or more in eight of those nine seasons. In 1979, Lanier was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. In his final five years with the Bucks, Lanier and company won the divisional championship all five years! His averages would dip slightly, but Lanier had proven himself as a consistent winner that was a reliable leader. The Bucks never won less than 49 games with Lanier on the team, and in the 198-81 season they posted 60 victories.

While never winning a NBA championship, Bob Lanier’s career accolades are hardly short in stature. First and foremost, not that his career statistical achievements aren’t impressive enough, Bob Lanier has set the bar for what it means to be a model professional. In 1978, he was named the Walter J. Kennedy Citizenships Award winner for his contributions to the Detroit community. From the years 1980-84 he served as President of the NBA Players Association. In 1981 Lanier was honored with the Jackie Robinson Award for service to youth, good citizenship, and leadership. In his last year in the league as a player, Bob took home the Oscar Robertson Leadership Award in 1984. To finalize what already was a saint-like career, Bob has served as a chairman of the NBA Stay In School program since its conception. Bob Lanier knew what it took to be a professional on the court and off, a page that some of today’s stars need to study.

Now on to what Bob accomplished on the hardwood. In his 14-year career, Lanier grabbed enough rebounds, 9,698, and scored enough points, 19,248, to be ranked 19th overall in both categories respectively at his time of retirement. Lanier has career averages of 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. He used a sweeping hook and a formidable outside shot to become one of the only true outside-inside threats the NBA has seen at the center position. He was a eight-time All-Star including grabbing All-Star Game MVP in 1974 with a 24 point, 10 rebound performance. He was a consistent winner for the Milwaukee Bucks and his accomplishments, on the court and off, made him a Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame inductee in 1991. Mr. Lanier was no doubt deserving of being this installment of Historical Glimpses and I apologize for making him wait this long!

Monday, August 14, 2006

World Gets a Taste of What Nuggets Fans Already Knew

(FortCollins-CO) The international basketball scene is getting some of their first tastes of what Nuggets fans have been privileged to for three years. Carmelo Anthony is simply leading this USA team to an undefeated record thus far and is standing out on a team compiled of the NBA’s best. International play didn’t get to see much of Carmelo’s game when the team was coached by Larry Brown, and I’m sure the Pistons are glad they selected to Darko, but now that he has had a shot to play. Carmelo is not leaving much to argue about.

In four games with team USA Anthony has lead his team in scoring in three of four games. Against Puerto Rico, Anthony scored 18 points as the USA team rolled to a 114-69 victory. Next up was team China. Anthony once again scored 18 and was only bested by LeBron James’s 22. The next two outings by team USA were both offensively spearheaded by Carmelo’s 16 against Brazil and 19 facing Lithuania. Linas Kleiza scored eight for team Lithuania and probably had little trash to talk to teammate Carmelo after the game.

‘Melo’s game is flourishing in Coach K’s system. He is hitting his open looks, finishing on the fast break, and making mature decisions. In the games that I have been fortunate enough to catch, Carmelo’s game has been looking polished and has been making me very anxious for the beginning of the 2006-07 season.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Gone Fishin'

(FortCollins-CO) I will be gone for the weekend without Internet access. If there is any Nuggets news, rumors, or developments I will be back on the beat Sunday afternoon sometime. Nothing beats catchin' a massive trout!

Fed Up With Cincinnati Alumni

(FortCollins-CO) The latest reports spewing out of Denver quite frankly make me embarrassed for Bob Huggins and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats basketball program. Obviously, Rueben Patterson and Kenyon Martin both must have been absent from any type of media training during their time at UC.
As I, and others have reported, Rueben Patterson has been traded to Milwaukee for Joe Smith. In typically classless style Rueben had to have something to say about his “Buddy” Kenyon Martin’s situation in Denver. Is Patterson Kenyon’s publicist? I wasn’t aware of any arrangement being made public. So I had this idea pop into my head when I read the Rocky Mountain News this morning. Rueben Patterson should just keep his convict mouth shut, pack his bags, and get the hell out of town.
Rueben Patterson made these statements in the aforementioned news regarding Kenyon Martin and the possibility of his situation in Denver working itself out. Patterson speaks on Kenyon’s behalf and says, “I know for sure it’s not going to (work out), because I know Kenyon. He is not happy (in Denver). He told me after the season he wanted to go. If he’s not gone, he’s really going to go crazy.” Are Nuggets fans supposed to take this as some kind of warning or just an idiot ball player, with a questionable resume, making his disgruntle way out of town?
Hopefully DerMarr Johnson will keep his Cincinnati roots in the closet and let this saga finish without his name being associated. Personally, I would like to see DerMarr back with the Nuggets. I think he is a versatile player who could be a jack-of-all-trades for the Nuggets in the upcoming season.

As for Kenyon Martin, I still stand by my last post in my thinking that with the addition of Joe Smith. The Nuggets will most likely be trading Martin as soon as possible. Another more than likely scenario is that Reggie Evans will be the first to go because he just will not get signed. Then with the addition of Smith, and the return of Nene will surely mean that Kenyon will not make it to the All-Star break. He may be around when the season starts, but that will just be so the Nuggets can raise his stock for a better trade. As of right now, teams are probably very leery of whether or not Kenyon Martin can even play on that knee that supposedly kept him out of so many games last season.

As for Rueben “The Instigator” Patterson, GOOD RIDDANCE!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Milwaukee Swaps Nuggets Smith for Patterson

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets have traded Rueben Patterson straight up for former number one overall pick Joe Smith from the Milwaukee Bucks. This transaction came out of nowhere with little to no rumors circulating around such a move prior to its execution.

It seems like the Nuggets now have an overflow of front court players as of right now. Does this mean that the departure of Kenyon Martin is coming soon? Time will tell, but Warkentien and staff would seemingly have to make a move for a guard sooner or later. Rueben was technically a two guard or small forward, but there is no doubt about the position Smith plays. The 6’10” Smith is now on a roster that boasts Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Linas Kleiza, Jamal Sampson, Eduardo Najera, and of course Anthony on the front line.

The only true guards the Nuggets have are Earl Boykins, Andre Miller, and J.R. Smith. Yakhouba Diawara and DerMarr Johnson are listed as tweeners. Measuring in at 6’9”, DJ doesn’t really have the quickness to defend a smaller guard and the verdict on Diawara is still out.

My fingers are crossed that the tight lipped Nuggets management have something else up their sleeves in the near future. Hopefully a gem of a two guard is about to revealed…

Joe Smith has never lived up to his draft position, but has still managed to put together a productive NBA career while playing with his now sixth different franchise. He has career averages of 12.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, one assist, and one block.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

All This Chatter Over Evans is Distracting

(FortCollins-CO) The most recent chatter over the resigning of Reggie Evans is just flat out distracting. The power forward has now narrowed down his potential teams to sign with to three. The Nuggets, Cavaliers, and Timberwolves are the ‘Lucky’ finalists for the rebounding services of Evans. The most ironic part about all this waiting game for Evans is that Denver is now in contact with Al Harrington and probably doesn’t give a care if Evans stays or goes.
In a story that broke from the Pensacola News Journal, Reggie Evans made this statement, “ I have a lot of weight on my shoulders, but it’s a good weight. I don’t mind holding good weight.” The main problem that I have now with this whole situation is that Reggie Evans is essentially holding out on the Nuggets for more moolah, and he is not worth the kind of money he is trying to get. Five million dollars for a guy that averages five points a game is malarky. I think that the Nuggets would be wise to let this guy go, and would be even wiser just to take their offer off the table. Reggie Evans is a fifteen-twenty minutes per game role player at best. Enough said.
Al Harrington could be what the Nuggets have been looking for all this time. Harrington is coming off a season where he averaged 18.6 points per game with 6.9 boards. He also played in 76 games with an average night consisting of almost 37 minutes. That’s contribution folks, and that is what Denver needs, CONTRIBUTORS! The twenty-six year old Harrington could be what the Nuggets thought they were getting with Kenyon Martin. Only this time, they do not have to worry about a surgically repaired knee and an ego.
In a statement in the Rocky Mountain News from Harrington concerning the realistic possibilities of being a Nugget. Al had this to say, “ Yeah, definitely. When you look at the Denver’s situation, they want to make some noise.”
That is absolutely correct! This franchise would give every indication that they are tired of the mediocrity they have been synonymous with for so long. And are willing to do everything that is honestly possible to rise to the elite levels of the NBA. Regardless of who is going to be on this team when the 2006-07 season begins, it should be noted that even without a GM, the Nuggets are an active team with the betterment of the franchise in the forefront of their mind.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Melo Gets Bent Out of Shape

(FortCollins-CO) Everyone who cares about the Nuggets can breathe a sigh of relief tonight after what could have been a very bad day. In a FIBA game against Brazil, Carmelo Anthony was playing great. He had scored 16 points in a variety of fashions before all of Nuggsdom collectively held their breathe. Carmelo went diving into the USA bench, landing on coach K, and hyper-extending his knee. He didn’t return to the game, which the USA won, but is said to be just fine. Coach K is going to sit him for the next couple a days.

Damn, and I thought there was going to be a Linas vs. ‘Melo match when the USA faced Lithuania.

The fall didn’t look all that bad, but when you saw the grimace on Anthony’s face you could tell he was in pain. It should also be noted that up to this point, Carmelo is standing out in a group of his peers that includes D-Wade, LBJ, and Chris Bosh. This can only lead to confidence for the ‘Melo man.

'Melo Speaks On Reggie's Behalf

(FortCollins-CO) The line of communication about whether or not Carmelo Anthony wants the Nuggets to resign Reggie Evans is all affirmative. The Nuggets superstar’s agent Calvin Andrews says in an article in the Rocky Mountain News, “He loves Reggie’s game and thinks Reggie Evans, in order to win, is a good piece of the puzzle.”

The main hitch in this whole situation is that Reggie Evans is trying to negotiate a deal worth about five million dollars and the Nuggets have about three before they will be in violation of the NBA’s luxury tax. Unless the Nuggets make some moves with Kenyon Martin or somebody else. Reggie will most likely have to sacrifice some paycheck to remain a Nugget. The question for Reggie Evans will have to be whether or not all the intangible things are worth the paycheck cut.
The most important underlying story in all of this saga is that the Nuggets still have Kenyon Martin on the roster. If Kenyon stays, and decides to drop the tough guy act, he could be a valuable asset to this team. This scenario would greatly diminish Reggie’s playing time and could lead to an unhappy situation for Evans. Or Kenyon might not be able to get his act together and Reggie will be an incredible back-up plan, regardless of luxury tax penalty, and continue to develop for the Nuggets.

Very tough situation for Mark Warkentien to be in no doubt. The Nuggets are trying to make moves to be a realistic contender as soon as possible. The problem is that Rome wasn’t built in a day and the pre-Carmelo Nuggets didn’t really have much to build from. Now that the Anthony-era is upon us, the moves the Nuggets are making need to continue to be in the right direction.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Still Waiting on Reggie Evans

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets are still yet to decide what they are going to do with, or without, Reggie Evans. Evans was acquired at nearly the last second of the trade deadline last season from the Seattle Supersonics in a trade that saw Byron Russell and Earl Watson depart from Denver. Will Evans stay in Denver be a short one or will he be brought back for another season with the Nuggets?

As of right now, Reggie Evans has traveled to Cleveland and talked about potentially signing with the Cavs, but also says he would like to return to the Nuggets. When asked about his meetings with the Cavaliers in a Rocky Mountain News interview he said, “Everything is cool. I’ve said that a million times.” Cool like your interviewing for another job cool, or cool like your going to be a Nugget next season? I sure would like to know…

The question is this… The Denver Nuggets in all likeliness will still have Kenyon Martin next season. At this point they have way too much to lose by just surrendering him for a fading role player, and would be better off keeping him and trying to straighten things out. This means that Reggie Evans will not be in such high demand next season, and if it happens, wouldn’t be that much of a loss if he is lured away from Denver.

In 26 regular season games with the Nuggets, Reggie Evans had averages of 5.2 points per game and 8.7 boards. He faded dramatically in the playoffs only averaging 3.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in the first round series with the Clippers. He will also forever be remembered for the, “Handy-work”, he maneuvered on Kris Kaman.

Nuggets Gonzo For Bonzi?

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets have been trying to land shooting guard Bonzi Wells in a sign and trade for the last two weeks. I have been reluctant to report on this because of its rather unlikely nature, but the Nuggets seem to be persistent. The scenario would have to include the trading of Kenyon Martin if the deal were to go down, but I think that this point the Nuggets are going to see what Kenyon can do before letting him go for little in return. Not that Bonzi is chop liver, but if the Kings wanted to deal him for Kenyon Martin, they would of already, capice?

The addition of Bonzi would be nice. Wells averaged 23.2 points in the playoffs against San Antonio. His regular season average was not that high, 13.6 points per game, but his potential is obviously there.

Bonzi would be a great starting shooting guard while J.R. Smith learns the system and matures, especially on the defensive end. Wells is entering his tenth year in the league. The Nuggets are about three million dollars away from the league luxury tax cut off which is going to play a pivotal role in whatever moves they make from now until the start of the season.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Stay Off the Pipe Shawn, The NBA Will Miss You

(FortCollins-CO) The NBA has probably seen the last of the Reign Man. Shawn Kemp had been working out for the Nuggets this summer in hopes of returning to the NBA and resurrecting his tarnished career.

The former All-Star hasn't played in three years and during that time has been fighting addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. The New York Post reported that while playing for the Supersonics that Kemp had an alcohol problem. Shortly after those reports, Kemp checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic for cocaine related problems in 2001. Since then he has been arrested in the Seattle area in 2005 with small amounts of cocaine and marijuana in his car. By the way, this is all while ballooning up to almost 340 pounds.

Since those dark times in Kemp’s life, he had been trying to fly right and make a return to the NBA. He had reportedly lost almost 70 pounds and was steering clear of the bottle. The only problem is that Kemp couldn’t shake puffing a little cheeba. On July 21st, 2006, Shawn Kemp was once again found with misdemeanor amounts of Marijuana and since that incident the Nuggets have ceased all contact with Kemp.

Not that I expected Kemp to make the Nuggets roster or be a contributor, but this is probably the last time we will hear anything from Shawn Kemp in regards to basketball. A shame too, Kemp was one of the most spectacular athletes the NBA has seen in the last couple decades. I am sure to get around to writing the “Historical Glimpses” soon, but don’t hold your breath.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Nuggets Still Gambling with Evans and DJ

(FortColllins-CO) The Denver Nuggets are still on the casino floor, but now they are using Reggie Evans as a bargaining chip. It has been reported that Reggie Evans is in negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers because the Nuggets have not been able to sign him to a contract thus far. The main reason that Evans hasn’t been locked up is the Nuggets are dangerously close to the NBA luxury tax of 65.4 million dollars. With 13 players signed for a total of 62.4 million, the Nuggets do not have many chips left before they leave the casino-ish free-agent/trade market. Plus, the Nuggets still have to decide what to do with DerMarr Johnson.

Also still to be dealt with is Kenyon Martin. It would appear right now, with the luxury situation as detailed, that Martin will be a Nugget next season. I know what your about to say… “Here comes the Nugg Doctor telling us how much he doesn’t like K-Mart,” but instead I have a different analysis for you. Yes, I still think that Kenyon Martin is a cancer, but here is why he will still be in a Nuggets jersey when the season starts. First, he needs to up his stock and trade value so the Nuggets can get someone in return for his departure. This is only going to happen if he comes back and proves that he can bite his tongue, contribute on both ends of the floor, and do so in a consistent fashion. If this can happen, and depending on what level it does, then the Nuggets will move him accordingly. Secondly, the Nuggets just do not have the money to bring anyone else in, ie Keith Van Horn or anyone else, while Kenyon is still on the roster. The bank roll just isn’t there.

The loss of Reggie Evans while the verdict on Kenyon Martin is still out would be devastating if Kenyon doesn’t get it together. Reggie is a cheap, effective insurance clause for if, and when, Kenyon isn’t able to get the job done. It is slightly unnerving right now as to what the Nuggets are going to do with all the loose strings.

DerMarr Johnson rounds out the list of things to be handled. DJ is another cheap insurance policy at the two guard spot. He plays good defense, but is extremely streaky on offense. If Johnson is not resigned, it is rumored that the Nuggets are still looking to acquire Tony Delk or Eddie House. Of the two, I like House because he plays solid defense and is a more reliable scorer night in and night out.

What still amazes me is that the Nuggets refuse to name a GM. What is the motivation to leave this team without a front man? One would have to assume that at some point soon the Nuggets will fill the spot or at least make Mark Warkentien change his title. Until then, the Nuggets franchise continues to be like a drunken Vegas night. For the most part enjoyable, but there is still a lot of questions to be answered when this off-season is over.