Waiting on AI

Well, the plan was to stay here in Denver and catch Allen Iverson's first night with the Nuggets. Plus, the Phoenix Suns and they're 15-game win streak are in town so the potential buzz around an Iverson/Nash matchup would have made for a great story. One problem: mother nature hit the Denver area hard and planes aren't getting in or out today so AI won't join the Nuggets until Thursday.

You remember that scene from the Shining when Jack's character snapped and started stalking that little kid during a blizzard? That's what downtown Denver looks like right now from my hotel room. Nasty. They're calling for up to 22 inches. What do they think this is, Minnesota?

Anyway, I hope to join the Wizards in Sacramento for tomorrow night's game. Considering that a game is looming at Phoenix Friday night, it might be a good idea for the fellas to handle business against the Kings. Maybe they should call up Billy Thomas and get him in uniform because my man bailed the Wiz out in Sacramento last March. Remember that game? Crazy. Gilbert was ducking the long arm of the law and didn't play that night so Billy T comes off the bench, nails some huge shots and helps the Wiz get out of Arco with a big win. That was one of my favorite games of the season.

If the WIzards are entertaining any thoughts of getting out of this four-game trip with two more wins, that bench is going to have to step up and do something against the Kings and Suns. Denver's subs - especially little Earl Boykins - outscored the WIz bench 39-19 and brought the kind of energy that team needed on a night when Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were out. This is the kind of stretch when the injuries to Etan Thomas, Michael Ruffin and Darius Songaila are starting to hurt.

I know the brawl thing has been beaten to death but I did want to weigh in with one take. When it happened, I started laughing because it was only a few nights before that I was sitting at a Caps/Pens hockey game watching two guys beat the stuffing out of each other. The fans loved it. I was sitting in front of three little kids and they were hooting and hollering during the fight right along with dear old mom and dad. When it was over, the combatents were sent to their respective penalty box and the game moved along. To my knowledge, the "brawl" - and it was a brawl because those hockey dudes actually know how to fight - wasn't even mentioned in game stories the next day. Just another night in the NHL.

Now, when the scrap was over (The Pittsburgh dude won. His name was Ruutu or something like that) I turned to the guy sitting next to me and said something like this: "If that happened in an NBA game, it would lead the news for nine straight days, the league would dish out huge suspensions and sports talking heads would spend days detailing the violent culture of the NBA. Some would talk about how NBA players are thugs who lack any sense of personal responsibility and are overly influenced by hip hop.

And then Nuggets/Knicks happened. And I laughed to myself because I knew what was coming. I'm in no way advocating hockey-type violence in basketball but as a journalist who has covered sports for awhile now, it sometimes amazes me how the sports are treated differently.

During my days as a beat writer covering the NFL, we'd get seven or eight days into training camp and if a fight hadn't happened yet, we'd be asking the coach if he was concerned about a "lack of intensity." In baseball, bench-clearing brawls are basically fun events that break up the grind of a 162 game schedule. Just boys being boys. A few suspensions are handed out but the talking heads don't go off on any rants about how the culture of country music causes relief pitchers to attack one another.

Funny quote from Suns guard Steve Nash on that sucker punch thrown by Anthony: "Typical NBA punch. In hockey, your own team would beat you up for that."

Carmelo was backpeddling like an NFL cornerback. Not exactly earning street cred with that one 'Melo.

By Ivan Carter |  December 20, 2006; 1:27 PM ET
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agree completely IC. The only point I'd make is that there is more of a danger in basketball for fans to get hurt during a fight then there is in the other sports. In baseball, football, and hockey the fans are seperated by walls from the participants. In basketball, a fight can spill over into the first couple rows, as the Knicks/Nuggets fight kinda did. Obviously the best/most outlandish example is the Pistons/Pacers fight. So I think there is some cause for being concerned about curtailing fights.

Having said that, Stern came down way to hard on Melo. Stern should recognize that everyone thinking Melo's a punk now for running away from Jared Jefferies (Jared Jefferies! What happened to him? How come he didn't have that fire here?) is almost punishment enough.

Posted by: Jake | December 20, 2006 4:21 PM

Ivan: When/if you ever get out of Denver, it would be interesting to hear the Wizards players' reactions to Jeffries charging after Anthony in that fight. I imagine that question could prompt a few funny lines.

Posted by: Henry | December 20, 2006 4:22 PM

Backpedaling? I wasn't backpedaling. I was getting in a better defensive position. In a situation like that you have to keep your head on a swivel to keep from getting sucka punched. I had Jeffries coming at me from one angle and Robinson coming at me from another. I was backing up to keep them both in my line of sight.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by: My 'Melo My Man | December 20, 2006 4:38 PM

Sad to say, seeing Jeffries trying to get into the fray made me laugh.....never thought of him as a fighter.....

Posted by: Lisa | December 20, 2006 6:36 PM

I've been saying the same thing (i.e. hockey fights) to friends that have used the "term" thug when referring to NBA players for a while now. I will say there is the component that fans are right there and unprotected as a previous poster mentioned. Also, no doubt there is that racial component. If a growing percentage of white fans view the NBA players as simply "thugs", it is not good for the league from a revenue perspective. Stern has to protect the league's image period.

One last point, there are sports that have a culture of fighting like hockey and football. Basketball is not really one of them. Just like you don't expect a fight to break out at a golf major. So, I guess that makes that analogy somewhat weaker.

Posted by: Rob P | December 20, 2006 9:31 PM

"Carmelo was backpeddling like an NFL cornerback. Not exactly earning street cred with that one 'Melo."

You're clearly not from the Baltimore/DC area are you Ivan? ;)

Lisa, I think Jeffries was actually trying to break some of that up. At least initially. I was watching Stephen A. and he was laying pretty hard into Stern as to why Jeffries got 4 games.

"that bench is going to have to step up and do something against the Kings and Suns."

I wish we had the Suns first because I think that one is going to get ugly for the Wiz. They always play them well, last year they had some real barn burners. But I think the injuries with the inexperience on the bnech is really gonna hurt the Wiz.

I'm calling a win against Sac and loss to the Suns. The Suns aren't playing a back to backer.

Geeze, this will be why they really needed that Denver win and why the loss was so important. You can't lose games like that when you get the opportunity, having those players out was a gift for the Wiz and they didn't take advantage of it. :(

Are you ready for some "smallball!"

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:


- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 20, 2006 10:37 PM

One more thing....

Sorry your stuck in Denver Ivan. :)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 20, 2006 10:38 PM

I hear ya Ivan about hockey fights being commonplace and you make some excellent points, but fighting is what I and many people find so awful about hockey. Hockey is an awesome sport to watch when there isn't fighting, like in the Olympics. I do not want basketball to become like pro hockey or pro wrestling, which are freak shows. I played basketball and accidentally clobbered opponents when making an honest play for the ball several times and I was smashed a few times in honest rough play, but I never contemplated fighting because of the obvious reason that I did not want to be ejected and cost my team a victory but also because I did see any need for it. Fighting detracts from the game and it sets a bad example and for that reason it is just wrong.

Posted by: John | December 21, 2006 3:06 AM


So did the team stay in Denver or head to SAC after the game? It's a pretty long layover while on the road so I'm just curious as to what they do with their "downtime."

Posted by: Lisa | December 21, 2006 7:36 AM

Remember this preseason how everyone kept talking about how deep this team was? About how we had such a great bench, and so much talent and depth?

Out bench has been lousy! We get hardly nothing from our bench. Our bench is Antonio Daniels coming in and driving the lane to get free throws, and that's it. The exact same thing happened last season.

Posted by: Darnell | December 21, 2006 10:15 AM

Don't know if anyone else has posted this link, but Gil updated his NBA blog to discuss Kobe's comments. Very interesting:


Posted by: Nick | December 21, 2006 12:59 PM

Gilbert is such a good guy, he really is. It's silly to have to defend himself shooting for 60. Just silly.

It's just injuries Darnell. Not that I'm a big fan of Etan, but I'll admit the Wiz need him right now. Not starting of course. ;)

As someone posted in the other blog, Jordan hardly uses his bench anyway. It's hard to come in like that cold.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:


- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 21, 2006 1:44 PM

I agree, the big difference between hockey/baseball/NFL and NBA fights is that the fights can easily spill into the spectator area. In fact, it did between JR Smith and Nate Robinson. I played college football and consider myself a tough guy, but I'd may be a little fearful for my safety if I were near those guys when it happened in the heat of the moment. But I do get the point you made, seems like every NBA fight is an excuse for someone to talk about the "hip hop culture" that's "ruining society".

I don't know when the last time this happened was, but the Wizards are on national TV two nights in a row (TNT tonight, ESPN tomorrow). Pretty cool.

Posted by: Wei | December 21, 2006 3:50 PM

Many people say carmelo was backpeddling...., but you know how many people were around him? WOuld you just stay there or would you give space to know your surroundings...I'm all against that he did it and he has to accept the criticism, but thats pretty smart for him to jump rather than stay there and let a bunch of angry knicks jump him ( you saw frye) smart move...anybody else who says different would have got beat up.

Posted by: marcus | January 11, 2007 2:29 AM

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