Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Bittersweet win for JT

Note - I thought I had posted this on Wednesday night after getting back from the game. Apparently I only saved it. My bad.

It was opening night for the Nuggets in Denver, opening night on Halloween. I was extremely fired up to watch the game and then word came through at roughly 5 PM.... My girlfriend Alex had secured tickets through her work, and a parking pass.

Not only was I going to see my beloved Nuggets on opening night but I was also going to be able to see him. My favorite player in the NBA who doesn't wear the baby blue and gold plays for the Seattle SuperSonics and I was going to be able to see him live tonight. I had waited a long time to see him play in person. Ever since he caught my eye over a year ago, I've been waiting patiently. I made sure we got there early, just so we could see him warm up. I was going to try to get a picture of him on my phone and send it to my boy Stretch, who's also a huge fan. I spent the whole car ride on the way to the game explaining his glory to my girlfriend. I couldn't wait.

We arrived at the arena and there they all were. AI and Melo were joking around, shooting jumpers and getting ready. K-Mart was back and looking good. Nene looked to be in shape (for him at least) to start the season. Even my despised Eddie Najera looked like he had been hitting the weights hard this summer (I loathe Eduardo Najera for personal reasons dating back to our college playing days).

Then I looked over to the SuperSonic side of the court. "There's Luke Ridnour" I thought to myself, "and he's wearing one of those Rip Hamilton mask things. And there's Wally Szczerbiak! I forgot he was on this team now. Ditto for Jeff Green. They've got Nick Collison too? I hate Kansas dudes. But where is he? I heard he had a slight injury a couple of days ago, but I thought he was going to play! I've been waiting over a year for this!!" Internally I was reaching a boiling point. Why wasn't he out on the court?

Then it happened. A few minutes before the start of the game he came walking out of the tunnel, like Willis Reed coming back from his injury to lead the Knicks to victory. But what is this? Below his glorious giant red pony tail was a grey suit! This was like expecting to see Superman, only to be forced to witness Clark Kent.

Robert Swift was not going to play this night.

There is not a word in the English language that could adequately describe the disappointment I felt at that moment. I could only think of the wise words of one Eric Cartman:

"Why has my God forsaken me?"

But then the feeling passed and I watched the Nuggets beat some SuperSonic ass.

Some Notes From the Game -

- K-Mart got the start over Nene. I'm not sure if this was a gesture by George Karl for the hard work K-Mart did to get back on the court, or if it was because Nene is out of shape again to start the season. To give Nene credit, he's only moderately out of shape, he's not nearly as overweight as he has been to start the previous two seasons. Hopefully it will only take him 15-20 games this year to play himself into shape.

- I love when Yakhouba Diawara plays. Not because he is even remotely good at basketball or fun to watch, but because it allows me to turn into a 3rd grader again and say things like this to my girlfriend all game:

When you're trying to shoot a three
But you dribble off your knee

Diawara (clap clap)

- Kevin Durant looks so skinny in person. I've been a big fan of his and have argued that strength doesn't really matter if you're that good, but it is going to matter for him. Earl Watson's arms were twice as big as his. And when he stood next to Nene, K-Mart, or even Najera, he looked more like an extremely tall 10 year old than a professional athlete. I think he's going to have some real problems with physical defenders, and I wouldn't count on his body lasting throughout an entire season. With that said, he is going to be very good.

- After the early game excitement wore off, AI looked like a real life PG for the game. He controlled the tempo, didn't pound the ball too long, distributed well, played great defense, and ended up with 14 assists and 7 steals. If he can play like this every game we are going to win a lot of games this year.

- Judging by warm-ups (and later during the game) it looks like Carmelo has added the 3 to his repertoire. If he can hit about 35% from deep this season, he will be absolutely unguardable. I can't wait!

- The team dropped the ball a little bit with the player intros. They built the excitement, the lights were off, strobes were flashing, music was bumpin', Rocky was running around waiving his Nuggets flag, and then the first player they introduce is Bobby Jones. Then the crowd gives a half-hearted cheer as they all look at each other trying to figure out exactly why the fuck Bobby Jones is playing for the Nuggets again.

- There were several "Tulo" chants during the game. It still blows me away that this town is that crazy over the Rockies.

- I left the game feeling pretty good about our team. Sure we struggled early, and the Sonics are not going to be a good team this year, but look at it this way; We played without Chucky Atkins, without JR Smith, with Nene and K-Mart playing limited minutes due to injuries, we had to start Yakhouba (and play him considerable minutes), Mike Wilkes had to play 12 minutes, we didn't play all that well the first three quarters...... and we still scored 120 points and won by 20. Imagine how badly we would have crushed this team at full strength.

I've got a good feeling about this team.


Commish CH said...

K-Mart's 20 minute limit is going to test this team early on. Versus the Wolves, Sonics, and Blazers shouldn't be a problem. He did look pretty sharp out there, and I was impressed with that Wilks dude.

Anonymous said...

waitaminute. Why do / did they put a time limit on the players? I'm assuming for contract reasons. Or am I wrong...

JT said...

K-Mart has a time limit because of his knee injuries the past two seasons. He's had two microfracture surgeries, and they are trying to ease him back into playing this time so he doesn't hurt it again.

Nene is just out of shape. His time limit is mostly due to filling up on too many empanadas and brazilian women over the summer.