Around The Hoop

Nuggets strike gold with organic chemistry

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenMarch 3, 2011
The shine on the new-look Nuggets is blinding now that Carmelo Anthony is eating up the Big Apple.

The Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-bred basketball prodigy took his hat off to himself for dealing with all of that melodrama he stirred up before his recent trade from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knickerbockers — those big-city “marble bakers” who mortgaged their future to bet on right now.
Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

“I take my hat off to myself for dealing with all this stuff that’s going on and still be able to go out there and play at the high level that I can play at,” Carmelo said in a Valentine to himself at the midway point of February. “I really don’t think an average person can walk in my shoes. I don’t think that.”

His statement wasn't quite on par with Aspen arrestee Charlie Sheen's confirmation on Monday that he is a “a total bitching rock star from Mars” but it did remind us of that time Anthony thanked himself for all that hard work he put day in and day out to win the ESPY for Best Male College Athlete in 2003.

Me-me-me Anthony and The Other Duke of Denver, Chauncey Billups, have showed up for a potential blockbuster on Broadway, no doubt. The guy who Lebron James just can't beat is a talent to behold and was a cool dude during his days in Denver, for sure, but what about the team he left behind?

They are the ones who are having flashbacks from their college days now that The Terrible Tarheel George Karl has put Denver's favorite son Chauncey Billups in his rearview mirror, bear-hugged Natural Born Leader Raymond Felton and squeezed him into the front seat next to his other lucky North Carolina alum charm Ty Lawson.

This team is driving back in time to resurrect Chapel Hill's philosophies to school the competition. The Big Three isn't the ticket to win in the NBA. All a strong franchise requires is some good old-fashioned organic chemistry.

Denver deploys a passing game that, as point guard Lawson points out, has cleansed its sticky fingers.

A newfound focus on ball and body movement have energized Nene, Arron Afflalo and The Captains of Crazy Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith. New arrivals Wilson Chandler and the Italian Stallion Danilo Gallinari are running and gunning, the inked-up veteran enigma Chris "Bird Man" Anderson is hustling and bustling, point guards and power forwards are picking and rolling while Anthony is thanking himself for taking his talents to New York City.

The lanes are open and the defense, oh, the defense is as feisty as we've seen since The Orange Crush.
What does Bird have in common with Charlie Sheen? He's winning.


Tom Jackson may not say it but Charles Barkley just did.

“They're going to be tough to beat in the playoffs. They're too deep at every position," he said. It was enough to knock a Denver fan off his chair. Barkley usually disses the Nuggets. He rarely praises them. But with Kenny Smith as his witness, Barkley explained Karl is in charge of a squad to whom the coach can sneer: “If you don't play, I've got a guy who will come in for you.”

During a halftime interview, Karl let the other genie out of the bottle.

“We just have to be a defensive team first and stop trying to win on offense,” the coach said.

Exactly. Going about it any other way would be delusional.

Denver learned years ago that Allen Iverson and Anthony can entertain us until we're dancing in the beer and cheesy popcorn spilled across the floor. But sober up, people, all that offense doesn't add up to winning championships.

It's defense that's key when defeat is not an option.

With all this money floating around the league now, if Barkley still played, he'd show up crazier than My Man From Mars ("even when napping") Carlos Irwin Estevez. “I'd come to games in a spaceship,” Barkley said Thursday night.
Charles Barkley

But he won't be lacing up his Nikes anytime soon. So sit back and watch TNT.

The Nuggets are blowing up the league. Denver is dynamite!

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