Tag:Carmelo Anthony
Posted on: May 24, 2009 6:17 pm
 

Melo: A.I. 'hurt' that he's not with Nuggets

DENVER -- When someone asked Carmelo Anthony on Sunday if he's still confident going into Game 4 of the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 deficit, his response reminded me of a certain All-Star who isn't here anymore.

"If we're not confident," 'Melo said, "we might as well not even dress up."

That was vintage Allen Iverson, whom I've heard say almost exactly those words hundreds of times over the last decade or so. I asked Anthony if he'd spoken with A.I. recently, given the Nuggets' meteoric rise to the conference finals without him -- and given that the point guard he was traded for has made all the difference.

"Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple of times," Anthony said. "He just keeps saying, 'Go get it.' It kind of hurts him that he’s not here with us. That’s all he keeps saying is that he wanted to be with us. But he understands the situation."

So, too, did Kobe Bryant, who realized how significant the Iverson-for-Chauncey Billups trade was the minute he heard about it.

"When it went down, I called Carmelo and said, ‘You’re gonna like this trade,’" Bryant said. "Iverson is great. But for what this team needs, they needed a quarterback. And they have a quarterback. I knew it was going to be a problem as soon as it happened."

Bryant and Iverson came into the league together in the 1996 draft, but their careers have taken much different paths since they stole the show at the All-Star rookie game in Cleveland in '97. They were the brash new kids trying to nudge the venerable stars aside back then, and everyone wondered if Iverson with his cornrows and Kobe with his arrogance would be good or bad for the league. What a full-circle moment it would've been for Bryant and Iverson to meet again in the conference finals this year after colliding in the 2001 NBA Finals won by the Lakers. But of course, without the Iverson-for-Billups trade, the Nuggets most certainly wouldn't be here.

"That’s not what the team needed," Bryant said, when asked why things didn't work out in Denver with Iverson. "You can put together all the talent in the world. When I first came to the Lakers, we had four All-Stars. But it’s about what pieces go right with the others. And Chauncey was the piece that they needed. It just meshed extremely well."

Posted on: May 9, 2009 9:13 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2009 1:52 am
 

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

There is no way to sugar-coat this. When you have a playoff game decided with an officiating controversy at the end, it's bad enough for the NBA. When it happens in Dallas, with Mark Cuban sitting courtside, it has Armageddon-like qualities.

Cuban dutifully updated his Twitter feed moments ago with this: "There is absolutely nothing to say after that." But I expect that's not the last we hear from him.

As if the league's controversy over what constitutes a flagrant foul and what doesn't has not been enough of a distraction, now we have this: the Mavs' Antoine Wright trying to foul Carmelo Anthony behind the 3-point line with the clock winding down, and no whistle. Denver was trailing 105-103 in the final 10 seconds when Wright appeared determined to foul Anthony, who was dribbling outside the arc. Strangely, Wright reached for the ball as Anthony picked up his dribble, then raised his hands in the air as if to indicate that he didn't foul him. If he was trying to foul -- Dallas had one to give -- that was an odd way of executing the play. As a side note, Anthony appeared on the replay to lower his shoulder and initiate contact with Wright on the play before shooting -- and making -- the deciding 3-pointer.

UPDATE: Which is why it was baffling -- positively baffling -- to receive a statement from the NBA asserting that the officials missed the intentional foul attempt by Wright. I am telling you, I was flabbergasted by this. I had dinner with another experienced NBA journalist in Houston Saturday night, and we couldn't believe this statement was issued. Not because it's foolish for the NBA to admit mistakes. No. Oh, no. Because neither one of us saw a mistake so obvious, so cut and dried, that it warranted a statement within a couple of hours after the game. Or any statement at all.

This is weird. Very weird. I stand by my analysis of the call, even though despite the NBA's best efforts -- and I honestly believe their intentions are to achieve the highest levels of accuracy and transparency -- I think the officials got this right on the floor and the league got it wrong in the email.

The key question is one that I haven't seen answered. And I offer this caveat: I didn't see the game live, only the replays. But the play in question came out of a timeout. And if a team intends to use a foul to give in that situation, the correct procedure -- or the smart procedure -- is for the coach or a player to inform the referees that they plan to commit an intentional foul. Did anyone do this? If so, the Mavs have a case. But even considering all that, and assuming that communication occurred, I stand by my analysis of the play. Wright did not commit the foul soon enough or in an obvious way. Not only that, but he seemed unsure of what he was supposed to be doing. He couldn't have made this any clearer than he did when he pulled up and raised his arms in the universal basketball gesture that means, "I didn't foul." 

Cuban was furious. He always seems to be at the center of an officiating controversy in the postseason, going all the way back to the 2006 Finals against Miami. There will be a solid 48 hours of comments, opinions, and accusations leading into Game 4 Monday in Dallas. (Good thing I'm going. I have displayed an uncanny knack for following the controversy this postseason.) But if you ask me, if Wright wanted to foul, he should've fouled quick and hard, before Anthony made his move and went into his shooting motion. It appeared that Wright was caught between giving the foul and putting Anthony at the line for three game-winning free throws -- or worse, fouling him in the act of shooting and creating the opportunity for a four-point play.

Maybe I'm wrong. I'll keep watching Cuban's Twitter feed, where I'm certain he'll set me straight. 
 
 
 
 
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