Sports Outside the Beltway

Less Than Five Minutes with Cuban, Johnson, and Nelson

Just about every team in the NBA was rumored to be interested in Allen Iverson before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets last week. The Mavericks got mentioned a few times simply because the Mavericks, based on their high profile owner and national cache, are becoming the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees of the NBA (“being mentioned in big deals is almost as important as being in the middle of big deals”). According to local reports, the Mavericks brain trust of Mark Cuban, Anthony Johnson, and Donnie Nelson spent less than five minutes discussing whether or not Iverson would be a good fit for the team. Their decision, obviously, was to not pursue any deal for the Sixers, now Nugget, guard.

This got me thinking of other decisions concerning the Mavericks that took less than five minutes to discuss. Here is the list:

Whether the team should send Bennett Salvatore a Christmas card?

After the retirement of Shawn Bradley and Keith Van Horn back to back, should the team be more tolerant of people from Utah.

Just how many assistant coaches do we have?

Whether the purchase of YouTube by Google was a wise deal? (Cuban wanted to discuss but Nelson and Johnson were not interested)

Extending the contract of MavsMan

If anyone would notice if the team tried to sell printed but never worn “NBA Champions” shirts in the gift shop?

Piping lost episodes of the The Benefactor into the visiting locker room.

Developing a new stat that correlates the number of head shots of Cuban during games with the success on the court. (Does Cuban get more airtime when the Mavs are winning or when they are losing?)

Determining how to start 0-4 in the playoffs and then win the next 12 games. Just like they started the season.

Making a trade of George (Devean)-Washington (Darius, preseason free agent) for Thomas (Tim) and Jefferson (Richard).

Letting Terrell Owens try out for the team after the NFL season.


Allen Iverson’s Denver Nuggets Debut

It’s underway. Here’s his jersey:

Allen Iverson's Denver Nuggets Jersey Photo

UPDATE (12/23): Denver lost, 96-101 but The Answer had a very good game: 22 points and 10 assistants coming off the bench.

Allen Iverson's Denver Nuggets Debut Photo

Allen Iverson fought through jet lag, car sickness and pregame butterflies that felt more like birds before he finally got to play his first game for the Denver Nuggets.

When his debut with the depleted Nuggets was over Friday night, the feeling was familiar for the former 76er. Another crowd-pleasing performance, 22 points and 10 assists over 39 minutes, wasn’t enough to prevent a loss — 101-96 to the Sacramento Kings.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Iverson said. “That’s the only thing I thought about, just getting the first one by me. I wish it could’ve ended with a win. I felt it could’ve ended with a win.”

In his debut, playing on a team with only eight healthy players, the newest Nugget gave the kind of gritty, gutty performance that has become his trademark.

He played 39 minutes after a whirlwind of a day in which he arrived in Denver in the late afternoon, was whisked to the Pepsi Center, passed his physical, took a few jumpers on the practice court then suited up to be on the floor for tipoff.

He spent the first 8:35 on the bench. When he finally came in, he received a standing ovation, and never left the floor.

This was widely considered the biggest trade in Denver sports history since the Broncos brought John Elway to town nearly 25 years ago. It’s a trade many think could put the Nuggets — who have long played second fiddle in this city — into championship mode.

“They embraced me here,” Iverson said of the welcome he received. “It was just a great feeling and it was a feeling I wanted to get. A feeling I hoped to get. It was special to me, something I’ll remember and cherish the rest of my life.”

I suspect the 76ers will regret not figuring a way to make it work with Iverson. He’s their best player since Charles Barkley and, arguably, Julius “Dr. J” Irving.


Blizzard May Keep AI from Denver

A blizzard may keep Alan Iverson from joining Denver when they face Phoenix.

DENVER – With a blizzard blowing through town, the Denver Nuggets don’t expect Allen Iverson at Wednesday night’s game against Phoenix.

“Highly improbable to next to impossible,” said Mark Warkentien, Denver’s vice president of basketball operations.

But he wouldn’t rule it out.

“As we speak we’re exploring every alternative way,” Warkentien said. “Is there another airport that’s open within driving distance? Is there a military base that’s open? If there’s any way we can do it, we’re trying. But I don’t want to paint a picture that he’ll be here.”

With the Suns on a hot streak, they could have used Iverson. However, the weather is not under the Nuggets’ control.

Also, they make it sound like they are trying to get the President in for a vital summit meeting. “Check all the small airports! Military bases! AI MUST GET THROUGH!” I find that amusing, but in the end, this will delay Iverson’s arrival for one game: no one is going to remember this five years from now except the ESPN statisticians who are paid to pop up weird stats during games.


Iverson Traded to Nuggets for Joe Smith and Two #1s

Allen Iverson has been traded to the Denver Nuggets, ESPN reports.

The Denver Nuggets have reached an agreement in principle with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire Allen Iverson, according to NBA front-office sources. The trade, pending league approval, some two weeks after Iverson demanded a trade in Philly, would send Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks to the Sixers for Iverson and perhaps another minimum-salaried player or two. It was expected to be completed later Tuesday barring any snags.

The Sixers had been hoping to take back only expiring contracts in any Iverson deal, unless they were receiving a top-flight young player like Minnesota’s Randy Foye or Shaun Livingston of the Los Angeles Clippers. But with Philly and Denver struggling to find a third team to join in to make the deal more financially enticing for the Sixers, they decided to end an auction that began in earnest when Iverson’s demand to be traded was confirmed by Sixers chairman Ed Snider on Dec. 8.

This deal will bring Philly a former league assist leader in Miller, Smith’s expiring salary of nearly $7 million and those two first-round picks in June — projected to be in the 20s — to go with their own lottery pick. Miller is averaging 13 points and 9.1 assists per game — third-best in the NBA — while Smith, an 11-year veteran, has played little this season, averaging only 13.5 minutes and 5.1 points per game.

The Nuggets’ interest in Iverson dates to last February and has only increased since the Sixers made him available to the whole league earlier this month. Their chief motivation is pairing Iverson with Anthony in coach George Karl’s up-tempo attack, but acquiring Iverson now — just a day after Anthony and J.R. Smith were suspended for 15 and 10 games, respectively, for their roles in Saturday night’s fight with the New York Knicks — gives a much-needed jolt to Denver’s depleted roster.

You’re never going to get equal value for a superstar and the 76ers didn’t. The only consolation is the two 1st round picks, but that seems to matter less in the NBA than any other sport except baseball.


Carmelo Anthony Suspended 15 Games for Knights – Nuggets Fight

Carmelo Anthony heads the list of NBA players suspended after Saturday night’s melee at Madison Square Garden.

Photo Nuggets Knicks Madison Square Garden Brawl

The Denver Nuggets were the bigger losers Monday after the NBA handed out penalties in the fight that broke out near the end of Saturday night’s game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer, was suspended 15 games for sucker-punching the Knicks’ Mardy Collins. Denver teammate J.R. Smith and New York’s Nate Robinson also received stiff penalties from the league — 10-game suspensions.

“It is our obligation to take the strongest possible steps to avoid such failures in the future and to make a statement to all who follow the game of basketball that we understand our obligations and take them seriously,” NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.

But there was no separate penalty for Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, who had warned Anthony not to go into the lane before the mayhem started Saturday night. There was speculation Thomas would be penalized for his comments to Anthony. Stern acknowledged hearing about it, but said he relied only on “definitive information” when handing out punishments.

The NBA, still trying to repair its image after the brawl between Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans two years ago, also fined the Nuggets and Knicks $500,000 apiece. Stern said the fines to the organizations are meant to show he is serious about cleaning up the game. “It’s a more general message that I’m going to start holding our teams accountable,” Stern said.

Collins, whose hard foul of Smith was the flashpoint for the fight, was suspended for six games. Knicks forward Jared Jeffries was suspended for four games, and New York’s Jerome James and Denver’s Nene were hit with one-game penalties for leaving their respective benches during an on-court altercation.

Thomas had a discussion with Anthony about 20 seconds before Collins delivered an arms-around-the-neck foul on Smith on a breakaway basket. Though Thomas acknowledged telling Anthony not to go into the paint, he said he meant it not as a threat but as a lecture on sportsmanship.

“I don’t regret fouling him as hard as I did, I just regret that the whole thing escalated the way it did,” Collins said Monday. “I was out there competing and I didn’t want the guy to get a layup and I was basically trying to stop him from going in the air. That’s why I fouled him that hard, so he wouldn’t get hurt.”

After the game, which Denver won 123-100, Thomas and Knicks players were angry that the Nuggets had four starters on the floor with 1:15 to play. And while Thomas wouldn’t say if Denver coach George Karl was trying to embarrass the Knicks, he again stressed that starters shouldn’t have been in the game. “I can’t speak for him, but he put his players in a tough position,” Thomas said. “I think he put his players in a very bad position.”

All 10 players on the floor were ejected after the brawl.

Frankly, while the $500,000 fines are substantial, the League has fired Mark Cuban more than that for things far less detrimental to the game’s image. And a six game suspension for a cheap shot that could have seriously injured another player is light, indeed.


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