Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Ain't A League, It's A God Damn Arms Race

This past week the New York Knicks acquired all-star starter and Olympian, Carmelo Anthony, in a blockbuster deal with the Denver Nuggets. It was no secret throughout the league that New York was Carmelo's preferred destination, but anytime the fate of a deal rests in owner James Dolan's hands, all bets are off. However, this time Dolan did the right thing, hung on to the right players, and locked in a second superstar to a long term contract.

In my opinion, the price for Carmelo was fair. The Knicks traded Danillo Gallanari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and "The White Russian", Tina-Fey Mosgov to the Nuggets, and in return recieved Melo, Chauncey Billups, Sheldon Williams, journeymen Anthoney Carter and Rastafarian Renaldo Balkman. Anyone who complains that the Knicks "gutted their whole roster" or "traded their whole team away" knows nothing about what it takes to win in todays N.B.A. Sure the Rooster was a fun player to watch, but then again so was David Lee (David who?). Amare's dominance erased any memories of the old double-double machine before Christmas, and that's exactly what is going to happen to Gallanari once Carmelo gets unleashed at the garden. With the deal the Knicks got an upgrade at the Small Forward and Point Guard positions, as well as being able to hold onto their two leading rebounders (Stoudemire & Fields). With both Amare and Carmelo locked up for the next few years, this team is built for the long run, but by no means sleep on them come May. For the first time in a decade the Knicks are going to make the playoffs, and will be a very tough draw in the first round for a team like Chicago or Orlando.

(Not only did the Knicks get Carmelo, they also got a Simpson's character!)

The Knicks unloading three starters for Carmelo was a basketball no-brainer because in this arms race that is the N.B.A., you need superstars to contend and win. It's the same reason the Nets just gave up Devin Harris, Derrick Favors (2010 3rd overall pick) and 2 future first rounders for coach killer Deron Williams. The idea is that if you can get one superstar on your team, others will follow. The Celtic's formed their big 3 in 2008 when they traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go alongside Paul Pierce. The Laker's secured two titles at the '08 trade deadline by committing the steal of the century, taking Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies (for mega-bust Kwame Brown, Jarvis "black jack" Crittenton, the decaying corpse of Aaron McKie and some future picks). We saw it this summer when The Heatles locked up Wade, James and Bosh for the next half a decade. The Thunder are knocking on the N.B.A.'s elites door with Durant and Westbrook, and if Chicago could ever manage to stay healthy, would be right there as well with a line-up of Rose, Boozer, Noah and Deng.

The 2004 Detroit Pistons are the only team in the past 30 years to win a title without a bonafide superstar on their team. The reason they were able to pull this off was because they had A) A starting line up full of All-Star caliber players whose styles complimented each other and made them better despite still lacking an alpha dog star. B) The Eastern Conference was incredibly weak that year (Miami was a #4 seed with only 42 wins, and Boston made the playoffs despite being 10 games under .500). And C) Karl Malone hurt his knee in Game 2 of the finals. With that being said, the days of teams like those mid-2000's Pistons winning championships are longgg gone. And spare me the whole "Well the Spurs won four titles and they weren't loaded with superstars" shpiel, they had the BEST power forward of all time in the prime of his career. The Knicks did what all teams are trying to do these days, and that is load up on the biggest names, and put together your own mini all-star team that you can go to war with year in and year out. There are 30 teams in the N.B.A. right now, and the Knicks currently have 2 of the 10 starters from this past weekends All-Star game on their roster, who just happen to be the #2 and #5 leading scorers in the league. Anytime you have a chance to put that kind of talent together, you have to do it at any and all costs. This ain't a league, it's a God damn arms race.

-fresh (@danye33)

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