Seriously, "Melo" may have the most delicious sounding name in sports.
And now he's a knickerbocker, which also sounds like it could be some type of sugary treat.
I threw on my "basketball fan" gear so I could pose as an expert for this post. The truth is I don't care much about basketball in general until March Madness, and any single NBA game doesn't really hold much significance until a week or two after the NCAA champ is crowned. The most important basketball games right now are probably happening at the high school level. Too bad Coach Tyler Matlock and the fightin Oakley Hornets can't get more national media exposure.
However, let's lay the 3A Idaho State Playoff picture to the side for a moment so we can talk about the biggest national sports story of the day. Carmelo Anthony is going to the Knicks, along with Chauncey Billups. I'm sure David Stern is stoked to have relevant teams in Boston, Los Angeles, and now New York again and the NBA will be more lucrative because of the deal.
I'm not sure what else happened with the trade but I hear that Denver got some young talent and draft picks and that a third team was involved. I don't know exactly what the Nuggets current ranking in the Western Conference is, but I think this drops them out of the playoffs by season's end. Denver may be better off in the future, (possibly?) but this year I think the Suns and Blazers win more games than the Nuggets when all is said and done.
Thankfully, Carmelo didn't announce that he had a goal to bring a championship to Denver and that he wouldn't give up until it happened. Thankfully he didn't hold an hour long special on ESPN announcing his talents had been traded to New York, but its still obvious that the Nuggets would have wanted to keep Anthony around if they weren't pretty darn sure he was going to bolt the first opportunity he got to play under the bright lights on the biggest stage.
I'm not going to rip Carmelo Anthony for his desires to increase his brand name, whatever, go make your money.
I am simply going to point out that the NBA is turning into Major League Baseball, where smaller market teams draft and groom the most talented players so they can sell them to the Yankees or Red Sox when the player gets to good for them to afford him. (Yes I'm calling you out Boston, I know New York is the "evil empire," but get real, you had the 2nd highest payroll in the league both years that you won the World Series, if you can't beat em, join em, right?)
ESPN is already speculating that Chris Paul or Deron Williams could be running the point for the Knicks beginning next year. At this point, no big-time player wants to stay home.
Apparently there is no appeal in trying to make a subpar team great any more. Its all about teaming up with other stars to form a super team now. Basketball players today have more in common with Kanye West than they do with Coach Gordon Bombay, or any other sports icon whose story was told through a heart-felt, inspiring movie.
My high school (the fightin bobcats of Madison High) won multiple state basketball championships before, during, and after my time there. We didn't have the biggest school, come from the largest city, or pay our players the most. We simply put the best team on the court for a few different years. There was a real brotherhood that existed between the players and the coaches. They didn't want to let each other down and knew they had to give 100%. The NBA isn't about that anymore.
There are exceptions. I do take encouragement in Kevin Durant quietly re-signing a less than league maximum deal with a team whose practice facility he admits is in the smelly part of smaller city.
I take even more encouragement in football, the biggest professional sport in the United States, where "team" still trumps individualism. For proof of this, look no further than the team that won it all with 15 players on injured reserve.
Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly biased and would have backed the Green Bay Packers even if they had the highest payroll in the league as a result of signing Peyton Manning, and picking up Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson for him to throw to and Adrian Peterson for him to hand off to, but they didn't need to do that to win it all.
The smallest market team in professional sports has signed one big time free agent in the last decade, and Charles Woodson stuck with Green Bay through 4-12, 6-10, and 8-8 seasons where they didn't sniff the playoffs.
The Pack took B.J. Raji one pick before Michael Crabtree and Brian Buluga one pick before Dez Bryant in consecutive seasons. THANK YOU TED THOMPSON! Both players came up huge during the playoffs, as did the many receivers drafted by Green Bay in the second round over the years (Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones).
The amazing thing is that the team the Packers beat in the SuperBowl has been built the same way, by drafting players that buy into the system and develop as a team. Even though we are on track to an ugly lockout where millionaire players fight with billionaire owners, I want to thank the NFL. I learned this season that 11 is greater than 1, that the best player in the league doesn't hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season, but the best team does. And for that, I thank you football.