The only good thing that came from attending Super Bowl XLVIII live was that I was finally able to settle the dispute of which game ranks #1 on my "most depressing sporting events experienced live". Prior to last Sunday's debacle, there was a legitimate debate within my own mind between the 1997 Broncos/Jaguars fiasco, the 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 6 and the 2007 MLB World Series Game 4.
Now, thanks to the Denver Broncos' embarrassing season-ending performance, the list goes as follows:
1) 2014 NFL Super Bowl XLVIII (Broncos 8, Seahawks 43)
2) 1997 NFL AFC Playoffs (Broncos 27, Jaguars 30)
3) 2009 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 6 (Nuggets 92, Lakers 119)
4) 2007 MLB World Series Game 4 (Rockies 3, Red Sox 4)
5) 2005 NFL AFC Championship Game (Broncos 17, Steelers 34)
6) 1986 NBA Playoffs Round 2 Game 6 (Nuggets 122, Rockets 126 in 2OT)
7) 2007 MLB World Series Game 3 (Rockies 5, Red Sox 10)
8) 1988 NBA Playoffs Round 2 Game 5 (Nuggets 103, Mavericks 124)
9) 2006 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Game 5 (Nuggets 83, Clippers 101)
10) 2013 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Game 2 (Nuggets 117, Warriors 131)
Thankfully, I was spared witnessing Super Bowls XXIV, XXII and XXI and the 1985 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 5 in person. Had I attended those four sporting events in addition to the 10 above, I might be really screwed up today.
But other than serving as a list topper, Super Bowl XLVIII distracted me greatly from my one true love: our Denver Nuggets. And even though a myriad of noteworthy Nuggets news has come about in the past week, the Denver sports media has largely ignored it all in the wake of the Super Bowl debacle. So let's dive into some key Nuggets and NBA-related topics here ...
... JaVale McGee is done for the season. When Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke this news three days ago, he simply unearthed one of the worst kept secrets (at least around these parts) about McGee's injury. Simply put, seven-footers don't break their legs mid-season and come back in the same season. So while this news is disheartening, it's not altogether surprising. And the little we saw of McGee earlier in the season was less than stellar. Let's just say that this big man with huge upside has a lot to do to come close to earning the remainder of his $44 million contract.
... Ty Lawson is out with a broken rib. While talking with my esteemed colleague Jeff Morton on Friday night, Jeff pointed out that Lawson's overabundance of minutes was due to catch up with the Nuggets starting point guard sooner than later. Little did we know that it would happen a day later. Lawson's rib injury may have nothing to with being on the floor so often lately, but excluding the Pistons game Lawson had logged at least 37 minutes per game in 13 of his previous 19 games, getting into 40-plus minutes territory nine times during that span. Having had a broken rib before myself, I can't imagine Lawson playing again until after the All-Star Break. At the earliest.
... Wilson Chandler's quietly solid season. Lost in the commotion surrounding the Nuggets sudden spate of devastating injuries has been the good play by starting small forward Wilson Chandler. The quiet, humble Chandler has put up at least 17 points in nine of his last 12 games while dishing out assists and grabbing some key rebounds along the way.
... Nate-Rob goes down / Foye steps up his game / Fournier to do the same? With the loss of backup point guard / shooting guard hybrid Nate Robinson for the season due to an ACL tear, the Nuggets starting two-guard Randy Foye has been putting up solid numbers. And even though I've made no secrets about being disillusioned with the Robinson signing in the first place, I still feel bad for anyone who tears their ACL (I tore mine about five years ago). If there's a silver-lining to any of this, it could be the baptism-by-fire that second-year guard Evan Fournier will undergo for the remainder of the season. I'm a big fan of Fournier's and was hoping he'd see more playing time.
... And the backup point guard is? The irony of the Nuggets paying backup point guard Andre Miller $5 million this season to essentially stay away while the team desperately needs a point guard of any kind is lost on no one. But on Friday Nuggets GM Tim Connelly told the Denver Post's Chris Dempsey that "there's nothing definitive" with the Miller trade situation. Anyone know when 2013 draftee Erick Green can get out of his European playing contract?
... Brian Shaw and George Karl trade verbal barbs. As mentioned in a FanPost by Denver Stiffs' reader nugzin2040, current Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw finally referenced his predecessor's name in a post-game interview by stating: "I’ve never been around a group of guys that I’ve had to encourage to shoot it. A big part of it is the guys last year with George Karl everything was to the rim, to the rim, to the rim." Karl, a few days later in a 102.3 ESPN radio interview, shot back: "There is no question that there is a philosophical difference in what he was saying and what I believe in. You know, I’ll be honest with you, I can’t stand the shot selection that the Denver Nuggets have now. They take more bad shots and more tough two’s then any team in the NBA."
My take? We can debate which method makes more sense (mid-range jump shots per Shaw versus dribble-drive-penetrate per Karl), but regardless Shaw shouldn't have brought up Karl's name at all. The Nuggets' rookie coach could have just ended his comment with "... that I've had to encourage to shoot it" and left it at that. As for Karl's rebuttal, you can't blame him. Shaw called Karl out specifically and Karl has every right to defend his multiple 50-win seasons record as the Nuggets head coach playing a style that netted those routine 50-win seasons Nuggets fans became accustomed to.
To Karl's credit, Karl's "system" (or lack thereof as his critics might say) works with just about any assembled roster because it's predicated on athletes being athletes and taking advantage of teams that don't play hard - i.e. half of the NBA. Shaw, conversely, prior to coming to Denver had been spoiled by assistant coaching around really good players who can actually make mid-range shots and perform in a set offense. So unless the Nuggets get really good players or get their good players (like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson) collectively healthy, the jury will be out on this debate.
... Knicks nightmare not over yet. Since the Nuggets own the New York Knicks' 2014 first round draft pick, the 2013-14 Knicks gave Denver fans something to root for: a team to tank that's not their own. Unfortunately, despite being five games worse than our Nuggets, the Knicks just aren't losing enough to be left out of the Eastern Conference Playoff picture altogether. Thanks to Friday's victory over the Nuggets, and despite Sunday's loss to the NBA-best Oklahoma City Thunder, the Knicks sit just two games back of the flaky Charlotte Bobcats for the East's eighth seed.
... Joe Dumars makes his eighth coaching change since 2000. Just 40 games into the 2013-14 season, the Detroit Pistons fired head coach Maurice Cheeks. Even though the Pistons haven't been playing well (they still beat the Nuggets), this move is a bit of a stunner given that Pistons' president Joe Dumars and Cheeks were longtime friendly rivals at the guard position as players in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now ousted as a head coach for the third time, it's hard to imagine Cheeks getting another opportunity. But I'll forever remember Cheeks for this fantastic moment while he coached the Portland Trail Blazers:
Mo Cheeks National Anthem (via YouTube)
Maybe nice guys do finish last after all.