Links: Melo, Separated At Birth, Jordan

by March 21, 2007

by Lang Whitaker

First of all, thanks for the positive feedback on yesterday’s post. I just felt like writing something a little longer for a change. Commenter Ben wrote, “I remember a couple years back on the Links you wrote about how you’ve always thought about writing a book about your experiences on your high school varsity team. I wrote to you saying that I would love to see that book, and this article just reinforces it.”

Yesterday’s post was mostly an excerpt from a manuscript I did for that book a few years ago. I actually had hooked up with a literary agent and she was working with me on selling the book idea, but then she went through a tough time and ended up taking some time off, and I didn’t want to work with anyone else but her. She ended up leaving that industry a few years ago and I haven’t had the time or motivation to pursue the idea. If you know any good book agents, holler at me.

Russ, Ben and I went out to Jersey last night for the Nuggets/Nets game. Russ took notes, which are here. I didn’t take notes, but it was pretty obvious that Denver is clicking right now. They’ve won 5 straight, 7 of their last 10.

The refereeing was truly horrendous last night, in particular a bunch of calls from Eddie F. Rush, who apparently thought all the fans there had paid to see him. The bad calls reached their apex in the fourth when Richard Jefferson was called for a foul after being shoved out of the way by Carmelo. After Melo shot free throws, the teams went back to the other end, where a make-up call was immediately whistled. It was like watching high school refs.

The Nets never could get going. The Nuggets were cooler than cool for the first two quarters but still only down 7 at the half. They came out smokin’ in the third and basically put the game away with a 31-16 quarter.

In the fourth, when the Nets were trying to mount a comeback, it was really interesting to see the Nuggets go through Carmelo on almost every possession. Iverson was out there, but he was really just trying to fit in and get the ball to Melo. It seems the pecking order has been established.

Melo continues to mold himself into the best midrange player in the NBA. Time and again he would catch somewhere about 18 feet away and create a shot, either through a spin move or through one of those jumpers where he catches and shoots without taking a dribble or a step. He was really, really good last night. And he’ll have to play that way the rest of the year for the Nuggets to have a shot in the postseason.

After the game, Iverson stood in front of his locker and answered questions for at least 20 minutes. I’ve never seem him talk that long before.

As Russ noted, we decided that we should now call Steve Blake “Gummo,” after the bizarre Harmony Korine film. Not a bad lookalike at all…

Sam is out today hitting a round of appointments, and I was out most of the morning visiting shoe company folk. Not a lot in the news today, but I did see a few things that caught my eye…

• Yahoo Sports has a special report today about Michael Jordan, where a bunch of disgruntled GMs complain that MJ has unfair access to a lot of the high school kids because of his basketball camp and the Brand Jordan all-star game.

Is he going to sign these guys to pro contracts or something? Don’t they have to go to school for at least a year first? If he was holding workouts with kids that he could sign in the next week or two, I’d understand. The story says there’s a concern that Jordan could be developing a long-term edge in free agency. Like the kids don’t know who Michael Jordan is anyway?

For whatever it’s worth, I was just discussing this story with an Eastern Conference exec who agreed that it was much ado about nothing. He also laughed at how none of the people complaining would go on the record. “Bunch of…jerks,” he said. And no, he wouldn’t go on the record with that, either.

• Very good story in today’s NY Times about OJ Mayo and his roundabout recruitment to USC.

• Andrea Bargnani got some cut-up last night. I had my appendix yanked out in the middle of the night a few years ago and it was not a fun experience. He’s going to be sore for a while. Hope he makes it back by the end of the season.

• Finally, whatever you do, don’t accuse Kobe of trying to recruit a college player to Nike.