Updated Feb. 9
There's a lot of interesting stuff in this week's mailbag, and the subject you were all most passionate about was my call for Carmelo Anthony to be left out of the All-Star Game. I've said my piece, and since I'm fair, you now have yours.
Let me have it.
Tony, I just happened to come across your article about Melo not belonging in the all-star game. I can't believe what I just read. You are a staff writer for the NBA?? I see in your BIO that you grew up a big baseball fan, and now you live in Florida which has barely any basketball tradition. This must be why you don't know anything about basketball. There are just so many flaws in your column.
First of all, you should have mentioned that the All-Star game has become a joke. The fact that Shaq is in this game should embarrass the league a lot more than Carmelo playing in it should.
Shaq played way less games than Melo, and was much less effective, in the EAST. But that's okay because the fans voted him in? Well the fans voted for Melo more than Dirk or Marion and many others. So what is this double standard? We have to give the fans what they want, but only kind of?
It's odd to me that people like you and Stern who want to protect the image of the NBA still want to punish Melo more. Melo made a mistake, served his time and kept quiet which should satisfy Stern, and showed extreme remorse for his mistake. You know as well as I do that the length of his suspension was a joke to begin with, seeing as though he didn't go into the crowd, and was only in the fight for a few seconds.
How many fights has Shaq been in in his career? I remember at least two that went into the stands, and I know that he still played in the All-Star game in those years. David Stern and you should embrace the fact that Melo is a genuine player, and handles his successes and mistakes as well as anyone in the league. I really hope that you just wrote this column to cause some controversy and reaction from your readers, to make your boss happy. There is no way that the NBA's healthy leading scorer should have to sit out of this event that he so badly wants to be in while the likes of Shaq and Tony Parker are playing in it.
Let me guess, you probably think Michael Redd should be in like a bunch of these other columnist hypocrites, even though he missed games just like Melo.
No, Kevin, I don't think Redd should be in the game, and that's exactly my point. He missed too many games, just like 'Melo. To draw comparisons to O'Neal and his fights in years past is a moot point, because O'Neal was voted in all those seasons, just like he was this year. I can't affect what you guys do in your seats and on your computers with your votes, but I can be of the opinion that it's not right that Anthony get the commissioner's exception over players who haven't missed any time this season.
Yours is one of the most distorted views imaginable. Melo was suspended for what he did. He did the right thing by not contesting it and drawing it out further. He's been playing the game the right way. He's still trying to mature. He is still young. The fact that David Stern did not address the Knicks role, especially that of Isiah Thomas was weak in more ways than one. It demonstrated everything that is wrong with the game and why most of America doesn't embrace the NBA. Bottom line is that even in missing games, he is deserving and Stern owed it to him to select him based on the heavy handed and misguided example that he made of him with the unfair length of the suspension. It's fine to send a message to the players of the league, but not at the expense of a single person where the punishment doesn't fit the crime and continues to perpetuate by continued omissions. Reading that you are such a strong Yankee fan, your opinion on this is disappointing to me as a fellow Yankee fan. I can only reason that you have some Knicks attachment that has skewed your senses. That would explain things for me.
Rest assured, Knicks fans hate me, too. Anthony did take his punishment like a man, but it cost him 15 games. It doesn't matter whether he's young, immature, or the NBA's leading scorer. The fact is he missed 33 percent of the regular season. Was Stern's penalty too harsh? Maybe, but the penalty was what it was, and it harshly cost Anthony and the Nuggets valuable games. I don't stand for rewarding that type of season, especially since it was his actions that got him grounded.
From: Beau Barendt
"On the one hand, David Stern has the fans to think about. They, after all, are who this All-Star Game is for"...Are you fricken kidding? I have the misfortune of living in Las Vegas and I was so excited to hear that my beloved NBA stars were coming to my city. I waited week after week until the tickets would go on sale...but they never did. The NBA All Star game isn't for the fans -- it is for the rich and privileged that get the VIP treatment from casino bosses... so it doesn't matter who they send.
Well, it is a pretty tough ticket to get ... the show on TV should still be pretty good.
From: Justin Gault
Tony: I read your articles all the time, but if you honestly feel that Melo is undeserving of being an all star this year, I do not understand why you would accept Kevin Garnett as a valid participant in Vegas. The fact that Garnett 'misfired' on his punch and Melo connected mean that one should be allowed to attend and the other should stay home, I do not understand why this is acceptable. If David Stern felt that Melo should not be allowed to be an All Star, that should have been expressed in his original punishment. I can understand the argument that the Nuggets have been struggling and a team that is barely above .500 does not deserve two All Stars, but I completely disagree that each of the other players in your list are more deserving.
Really? What Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur have done for Utah hasn't been impressive? Considering Denver trails the Jazz by close to double-digits in the standings, I'm sorry you're such a homer you feel that way. As far as Garnett, he wasn't suspended for 15 games. Whether that was too small a suspension and Melo's was too much is debatable, but it doesn't change two simple facts: 1. Garnett didn't miss nearly two-thirds of his team's games. 2. He was voted in by the fans. Frankly, the latter probably wouldn't have happened if he had been suspended for 10-15 games, because the sane minority of you out there would've cast more ballots for Dirk Nowitzki as a result.
From: Jeff Dunhill
You overlook the fact that Melo took his punishment like a man and did not appeal his 15-game suspension, Tony. Whatever bias you have against the kid, remember one thing - he showed class and remorse after his actions that night. Can you say that about any other player involved? Facts are facts. Melo stepped up like a man and took his punishment when he had the opportunity to appeal. He was the USA player of the year, he is leading the league in scoring, and his game has vastly improved over his third team NBA selection last year. Give the guy a friggin break, Mejia. I'm sure you've made BIG mistakes too, but you're still a journalist, right? What if someone didn't give you a fair shot? He deserves an all star spot. Period. The fans have spoken, and his PLAY has spoken for itself. I'm frankly irate that you would even put b.s. like this on CBS Sportsline. I won't ever read your column again, and I was a fan. Your bias is too great.
I have no bias against 'Melo. That's irresponsible for you to say. I've made colossal mistakes in my time, and although I've made it through them, at no point was I ever rewarded for them. Considering you WERE a fan, I'd anticipate it's because you dug that my opinions, whatever they were, were made without a bias. That's the case again this time. You're just too upset and set on your own opinion to see it.
From: Demond Harper
Tony you are full of it. Melo was to serve a 15 game punishment. He served a 15 game punishment. Who are you or anyone else to keep handing out punishment. He made a mistake and paid for it. If it is the time then AI should not be there either. You don’t mention that. If the punishment was 15 games and no consideration for awards etc, then say that, but don’t use the punishment as an excuse now, and don’t insult anyone's intelligence by implying that the likes of Okur are more deserving that Melo. Just say that the punishment cancels him out. You paint a picture that punishment or not these other guys are more deserving. And that is crap.
Missing the All-Star game is not an additional punishment I or David Stern would be bestowing. I'm just in favor of letting players who didn't miss 15 games in over those who didn't. Now that I'm sounding like a broken record, it's time to kill the topic. Congratulations to Mr. Anthony for his inclusion. If he had only been suspended for 5-7 games, and not 15, I'd be on board with his addition from the jump. Quite frankly, so would the Western Conference coaches, who had a chance to pencil him in, but didn't.
From: Q. Janes
Thank you for finally giving the Raptors the power ranking position they deserve u know beside all the other .500 clubs. I retract my statement about u being prejudiced against Canada's ball club!
I love all of Canada. Thank you for your retraction.
From: Daniel Shiel
G'day Tony from Australia. Seriously Dude, are you a Pacer Hater? For as long as you've been working at CBS and as long as I’ve been reading your Power Rankings & daily selections, you give the Pacers no credit. I mean ranking them No. 17, are you trying to tell me that the dismal form of the Heat, declining wins in Orlando's column and the less than .500 Raps are better teams in the East?
Every year we Indiana have some crazy distraction... two years ago there was the Auburn Hills episode, last year Ron Ron and his poison and the great Peja trade, and then this year an eight-player trade mid season, and still we remain solid above .500 with a big swing of home games to come. Time to give credit where credits due and stop hating my Pacers! They'll make the playoffs again, as they always do with consistency some other East teams can't muster up and they'll probably be a 5-7 seed, only because they are in the only division in the only division in the East that is respectable. According to your Rankings we just make the playoffs at 8. You've got six teams with worse records above the Pacers. Anyway, controversial as i find your sorry Power Rankings, I enjoy reading your articles. I'd love to hear your feedback on my feedback.
Daniel, considering I picked Indiana to reach the Finals last season prior to Ron Artest's trade demand, I doubt I have some Pacers bias. This season, you've been mired in mediocrity, Jermaine O'Neal has said he wants out if things don't improve, you've had two separate incidents in which multiple players have been involved in bar fights and you traded a quarter of your team. You say I have them eighth in the Eastern Conference? That's pretty fair. It's where they'll likely end up -- if they can hold off Orlando and New Jersey.
Pau Gasol is the laziest center in the NBA. He has recently requested a trade. To my surprise he has increased his productivity. Now he can actually jump higher than two millimeters off the ground. He can also manage to lift his feet up and down to make it down the court before the defensive possession is over. If that is not a classic attempt to raise his stock then I don't know what is. Whatever team ends up with the lazy Spanish fly needs to stock up with plenty of Kleenex for the cry baby. Thanks, I just needed to get that off my chest.
Hope that helped, Lamar. I would say 99 percent of the NBA's decision makers disagree with you, and would love the opportunity to have lazy Gasol on their squad. He's giving his all to hopeless Memphis, and considering he has no idea if his trade request will be honored, I'd chalk up his strong play of late to professionalism. Besides, everyone knows the laziest center in the league is Eddy Curry. Just scope out those rebound totals.
"Seventeen consecutive wins and all we got was this lousy No. 2 ranking." You truly are someone who lacks intelligence. I bet if it was the Heat who won 17 in a row they would be ranked 1. By the way, who wrote your bio....you know where I am going with this....
No, I don't know where you're going with it. Write back and explain. As far as your Suns go, it's not like the team they were placed behind, the Mavs, haven't had their own runs of consistent success. In fact, last I checked, you're behind them in the standings and they beat you the last time you guys got together.
From: Larry Simon
Tony, John Wooden is 90 something years old, but he still is the Wizard of Westwood and is just as sharp as he was. His description of why Steve Nash is so hard to guard is perfect. He's quick without looking like he is hurrying. Wooden is still amazing. Don't you agree?
Of course. There's only one John Wooden. The game slows down for all the great ones, and Nash has proven he's worthy of that label.
From: Chad Evans
Nice call in your article last week about the Jazz not going in the tank despite the loss of Boozer. Since that article, wins over Spurs and Suns, I guess that's why I'm a bill collector and you’re a sports columnist. 6-2 against Dallas, Phoenix, and SA, and only 13 more games against teams with winning records. It looks good for the Jazz.
Bill collector? Yikes. I don't want to hear from you via phone, Chad. E-mail correspondence will be just fine.
From: Nick Parillo
Hey Tony, I'm sure you don't care what I think, but if you rip on the Celtics so hard, I just have to challenge you: if you can name one play, JUST ONE SPECIFIC PLAY, that has occurred during their losing streak that DIDN'T appear on Sportscenter, I will still think you are a real journalist. Go.
Kendrick Perkins grabs an offensive rebound, misses a bunny, and everyone groans. Sebastian Telfair over-dribbles, gets into the paint without anywhere to go, and turns it over. There, you got two. I watch portions of many games, Nick. I've seen Gerald Green get his confidence up and knock down jumpers in Kobe Bryant's face, and Ryan Gomes out there balling, following up on the boards as he always does. I'm not exactly ripping on Boston anyway. They're doing a fine job venturing down the drain on their own.
Do you think the Rockets will match up reasonably well against the big dogs in the West if Yao is fully healthy for the playoffs? Maybe it's my bias, but I think at full strength these guys can play and beat anyone in the league.
You're absolutely right. Based on what Houston has been able to accomplish without Yao, you’re the x-factor in the West. The key will be sneaking past the Spurs in order to get a homecourt edge in that first round.