Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the brackets got wrecked a long time ago.
Is the Carmelo to New York trade overrated?
I’m gonna start with a player that I actually like. Carmelo Anthony. Melo was a player that coming out of high school, had the game to be in the NBA right away. He instead went to Syracuse and led the Orange and long suffering head coach Jim Boeheim to their only national title in 2003. Anthony was selected 3rd in the talent laden 2003 draft by the Denver Nuggets (don’t you think in hindsight, Detroit would love to have a mulligan and pick Anthony ahead of the forgettable Darko Milicic) ahead of such luminaries as Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, David West and Mo Williams. Anthony made an instant impact, making the all-rookie team in 2004 and leading the Nuggets to the playoffs every year since his arrival. Anthony became the first rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since David Robinson in 1990. Anthony is your classic tweener, big enough to give small forwards and guards trouble but small and quick enough to take a bigger matchup outside the lane and do damage with quickness. Keep in mind that as long as Melo has been in the league 8 years, and won’t be 27 till the day before Memorial Day. Anthony is in his prime.
After 7 years in Denver, it was no secret that Melo wanted a change of scenery as his wife Alani “La La” Vasquez made it clear that she felt that her husband would be better exposed in a larger market. Anthony being Brooklyn born seemed destined to head to New York and the Knicks, the Knicks openly coveted Anthony especially after failing to land LeBron James the previous summer and despite signing Amare Stoudamire lacked a real headliner.
Ok, those are the facts. These are not disputed. The fact is that I think that the Nuggets are better off without Anthony. The Knicks and their fans were giddy after the trade was consummated, but the problem is that the Knicks have no real leader. I take nothing away from the redoubtable Chauncey Billups, another player Ive always liked. But Billups is 34 and has a lot of miles on him, he wont be playing at his top level for too long. It is rare when I agree with the Man-gina that is Colin Cowherd, but he made a statement about Anthony that I agree. “Anthony is closer to Allen Iverson than Kobe Bryant in leadership.” Make no mistake, I like Anthony and more often than not he has proven to be a good guy on and off the court. But I don’t think he is the missing link to a championship, while I mentioned that the Nuggets made the playoffs every year that Anthony was in Denver, they only made it to the Western Finals one time. And the Nuggets don’t seem to be missing Anthony all that much, having a better record of the two teams since the trade. Much was made in the media about the trade, but I think that a better deal should have been made with the Lakers, had Anthony gone west he would have been had less pressure to be "the man" with other bona fide scoring options in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom and the Lake Show has some guy named Bryant who is pretty good and is the unquestioned leader of the team. Melo would have even placated his wife by being in a high exposure market. But Melo for now is a Knick. But in spite of an inspired performance last night in a win over the Magic I think that Knicks fans are getting a rude wakeup call that acquisition of Anthony will not get them to their title since 1973.
Speaking of the annoying Cowherd, I know he is having a fit seeing, heretofore unremarkable teams like VCU and Butler crashing the Final Four. Now Butler isn’t the surprise that some are making it out to be, but they are proving that Gordon Heyward was not the end all be all for the Bulldogs. They return to the Final Four for a second straight year with a remarkable tenacity and determination, you can almost bet that the so-called big boy teams are salivating even more heavily to snatch Stevens up and hope that the 34 year old coach can work his magic on them. Speaking of hot commodities Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart will likely be on the top of every short list of desirable young coaches. The Rams are now the belles of the ball now, two weeks after being lampooned as being unworthy for inclusion to dance are still doing the cabbage patch at the Big Dance having ousted supposedly bigger, better teams. The Rams have beaten teams from the Pac-10, Big East, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 to earn their trip to Houston. If you’re keeping score that’s five of the six power conferences. Only the SEC has not had a team fall to the Rams and in what would be the ultimate David and Goliath story who could the Rams possibly face in the final if they beat Butler in the national semifinal? Kentucky from the only power conference that the Colonial Rams have not faced, the SEC.
Has anyone fallen out of favor faster than Jimmer Fredette? I mean damn, the so-called experts were practically lining up to give him head three weeks ago and now they are lining up just as fast with the “I told you, he was a buster” talk. Don’t get me wrong, I like Fredette but I wasn’t one that was calling him the next Pete Maravich or Larry Bird. I thought he was fearless shooter who was carrying Brigham Young to heretofore unprecedented heights but as the media tends to do they will build someone up fast just to gleefully take him apart at his first real setback, Im expecting Kemba Walker will be next if UConn doesn’t take the title.
And while Im on the subject, lets get off the whole let’s reseed the final four. Its like the big teams want to get guaranteed to avoid strong teams, but I’ll be honest I didn’t want to see VCU and Butler face off in the semis On one hand its good that a so-called mid major will make the final for the second straight year, but the VCU/Butler game seems like a JV game next to the UConn/UK game.
I can already hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth already by some of these pundits. Some of the elitst fans too who are already rolling their eyes and looking down their collective noses. I heard that the talk 2nd national semifinal between UConn and Kentucky is the real national championship that the winner will invariably punish either the Rams or Bulldogs in the final. Ive already heard wonks like Billy Packer whine that the Final Four should be reseeded to keep UK and UConn away from one another till Monday. These pundits like they did five years ago are whining that these supposedly undeserving teams got into the Final Four by more luck than skill, drive and determination. Butler is getting a whole lot more dap this year than last year simply because they were in Indy not as only the host school but as a regional champ. But the fact remains that these pundits will have to have to do some work this week in Houston. They will have to figure out where Virginia Commonwealth University is. (Its in Richmond) Who their go-to players are They do know that their coach is Shaka Smart and they are already touting him for a big name job (Missouri and Providence are two that come to mind) Sorry writers, no goofing off in the Houston skripper clubs, no taking in the NASA control center. You will have to work!
By the way, when is Bill Self going to start taking some static for not being able to beat teams from these so-called mid-majors? Northern Iowa, Bradley, Bucknell and VCU are all once lightly regarded so-called mid-major teams that have knocked Kansas off in the past few years under Bill Self. Had a shot by Stephon Curry of Davidson went down in the 2008 regional finals, Kansas would have the title of biggest annual chokers in the NCAA’s
Phat Dap/Head Slap
Kemba Walker…nuff said…he’s a beast, Brittany Griner of Baylor…40 points in the sweet 16 to will her Bears to a win. And the incomparable Maya Moore of UConn who just keeps playing at another level to keep the Huskies on track to defend their national title. But the Phattest dap has to go to Notre Dame's women's basketball team who had lost their past 20 meetings with perennial powerhouse Tennessee before coming up aces in a 73-59 win that sends them to the Women's Final Four. 21st time's the charm for the Irish.
To Buck Showalter skipper of the Baltimore Orioles, a manager who has never been a favorite here in Hoodwood for his idiotic comments about Derek Jeter saying that he jumps away from more inside pitches than any other player. ESPN did some research and found that Jeter actually gets called for more inside strikes than any other MLB player. Showalter also lambasted Red Sox GM Theo Epstein saying that he would like to see Epstein win with the Tampa Bay Rays payroll. And exactly how World Series rings do you have there Buck? Last I counted Jeter has five and Epstein two, which is seven more rings than you. I know Showalter is trying to pump his team up but it makes no sense to try to do so at the expense of teams that have been consistent playoff contenders for the past 15 years. Showalter has always been good at shooting his mouth off and he is in midseason form already
That’s the view from the Hoodwood, until next post fellow sports fans!