I'm gonna tell you a little story about a guy on our team. It involves him hitting game winning shots against two conference rivals. It starts like this:
Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the first round (27th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft … Traded by Detroit along with Walter Sharpe to Denver in exchange for a future second round draft pick (7/13/09).
Thank you again, Joe Dumars. With Afflalo, we have a guy who admits he loves the challenge of hitting game winning shots. If you took a piece of Kobe Bryant's work ethic, style of play, and defense and mix it with and Ryan Bowen's motor, hustle, and coachability - you'd have AAA.
New name for Afflalo: DNA. Combine the fact that he is in the top 3-5 defenders at his position with his new pension of clutchness. I remember distinctly less than a week before his shot against Dallas a Stiffs blogger said "he doesn't have a clutch bone in his body." It sure is fun to watch that guy play basketball.
Not just because of the above, but for this reason. D and A - Defense 'N Assassin. DNA
Or, alternately, AAAssassin (could be said 'triple-A-sassin'.) Try it out.
Next off, Charles Barkley thinks we are a dangerous team for two main reasons. To paraphrase Charles Barkley, we play defense with an intensity like when Gary Payton was in Seattle, we are two deep at every position, and we have a crazy guy. As Kenny puts it, "The Nuggets are also two deep at the position of crazy guy. Maybe three."
When Carmelo and Balkman left town, we might have ditched the punks - but we still have the thugs.
A good thing to have during the playoffs, no team wins without one. Ask KG, BIll Laimbeer, Rodman, Artest (at times), even those great Utah teams with Matt Harpring.
Also, I just want to touch on our twin "albatross contracts" in Bird and Big Al.
Of course we all know that in a few years the contracts will look even worse, but the two of them are both playing well now. Al has been playing noticeably better defense - or at least playing defense and throwing around more weight around in the paint than he has been at times this season.
Bird is looking much like a spring chicken. I fear it will be as usual with such times in Colorado, and just as the buds appear, another snowstorm will hit and freeze everything. I hope he can stay healthy, because he is active and playing above the rim. He is also cutting more than he used to, or perhaps just getting passed too more off cuts than when Melo was here. Probably some of both but mostly that last part.
Which brings me to this:
Yes we are in the Honeymoon stage, but people are listening now. People are listening to George Karl and playing defense. We haven't seen this team play defense that was anything resembling good on a consistent basis in over a year and a half.
This team playing defense is like a hungry werewolf: it only emerges once every blue moon to feed - but once it does, it can't be held responsible for the outcome. We saw what they were capable of when they let loose on one of the sacrificial lambs of this year's NBA schedule i.e. the post-Wallace Bobcats.
Karl is in the works to sign an extension:
George Karl will sign a three-year coaching contract extension through 2013-14. Final details are being ironed out.
He is going to absolutely love coaching this team. Whether or not they ever end up being a truly great team, no one could guess. Except maybe Karl. Think about it: When he got into town, he was inheriting a gig where a spoiled 20 year old budding superstar ran the show.
This is the first time Karl is truly being handed the reins of the team and seeing what his horses can do - under his terms. I, for one, am excited to see if Karl can mold this city into a unified personality of defense and team play with a winning culture, a la San Antonio.
He has two starting caliber point guards (a prospect that has always gotten Karl giddy, such as when Sam Cassell and Gary Payton were in Milwaukee for a brief time following the Ray Allen trade). Both of these guys play uptempo and look to pass. Both guys are from his Alma mater. Ty Lawson had this to say before the game.
'Were playing together and we're winning right now,' Lawson said. 'That's fun for everybody. There's no sticky hands out there. We're passing the ball, getting everybody involved. It feels a lot better when everybody is happy. The bigs are happy. The wings are happy. Everybody is touching the ball, and that's the way basketball should be played.Read more...
It sounds like the players are picking up on the message and have the right attitude. It will be exciting to see the finish of this season.
I know that I, for one, am so starved for 'real basketball' after the Melodrama and am excited to see a team that, to coin a phrase by Andrew that remains ever pertinent, "seems to care more about winning than (we) do."
Good to see, isn't it George?
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