The Answer Leaves Denver With More Questions

aistreetclothesThe swap sends Allen Iverson to be part of Detroit Basketball in exchange for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and some nameless center I won’t likely give a crap about in a few weeks. Is it a good addition on paper for both sides? Yes, in a very short term sense: the Pistons needed another offensive mover and shaker, and the Nuggets desperately needed a point guard that plays some type of defense. I love what Iverson brings to the game in terms of hustle and pure ability, but on a team that has no concept of defense whatsoever and too many players looking for shots, he was the likely chip to go, particularly in the last year of his contract.

But in what’s essentially a straight-up trade, Detroit gets the better end with a contract that will be off the books after the season and a chance to make serious runs at free agents from the class next year.  It’s a trade that looks better for the team’s future, no matter how much attachment Pistons fans have to Billups, who has proved his worth as a playoff performer, and now returns to his hometown. (Disclosure: I got to meet Billups in his first go-round with the Nuggets and he just seemed like a super-nice guy.) But the George Washington HS product comes with a hefty contract that makes it look like Joe Dumars fleeced Mark Wankentien here. The Nuggets are going to face even more luxury cap trouble now, which is precisely the reason the gave away Marcus Camby for nothing to the Clippers.

So, for Denver, this trade is a mixed bag — it’s a better chance to make the playoffs, but it may screw them for the future.  In the Pistons’ case, Dumars has lifted a player that could help a team get over the hump to another NBA Finals, if the talent left matches up with the rest of it on that team.

Jason Whitlock Wants To Put Allen Iverson In A Burqa

I’ve read some dumb, lazy excuses for columns before, but I’m pretty damn sure this might take the cake. Jason Whitlock essentially says a factor in the increased ratings for the NBA playoffs is the lack of tattoos on the Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, and Celtics, at least compared to Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, et al. Never mind the fact that you really can’t prove this, it’s just ridiculously moronic.

The only accurate way to describe Garnett, Pierce, Duncan, Allen, Manu, Parker and even Kobe is “clean cut.” Yeah, there are a couple of tattoos in that group — Duncan has something on his back, Kobe still has his post-rape-allegation tat — but the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics have far less ink on average than your typical NBA franchise.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony have more tats on their hands than the entire Spurs roster.

I know many of you probably think the number of tattoos doesn’t influence viewing habits. You’re wrong. Like everything else televised, appearances matter. There’s a reason you don’t see nude scenes in movies with fat people. Trust me, fat people have sex. It’s just no one wants to see it. Not even fat people.

Wait. So tattoos on athletes are as ugly and repulsive as fat people having sex on TV? Someone tell Sports Illustrated — their cover story is on a guy who’s got 26 tattoos all over his body. His name just happens to be Josh Hamilton, and he’s the dynamite CF for the Texas Rangers. Guess that’ll hurt magazine sales.

No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball. It’s uncomfortable and disconcerting. You don’t want your kids to see it. You don’t want your kids to think they should decorate their neck, arms, hands, chest and legs in paint. You don’t want to waste time explaining to your kids that some millionaire athletes have so little genuine self-confidence that they find it necessary to cover themselves in tattoos as a way to mask their insecurities.

No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball because they are often very bad at it. They are pro hoops players, which means they are much better than the rest of us, but compared to some of their peers, they have flashes of total suck often when they play.  No one wants to watch West or Hughes jack up ill-advised shots everyone knows they’re not going to make.

It’s not because of the tattoos on their arms. It’s because of the bad plays they make more frequently than their peers.

It’s a television show. Pleasant smiles, non-threatening people sell products better than menacing, tattooed brutes.

If I was David Stern, I’d commission Nike and/or Under Armor to create a basketball jersey with long sleeves, all the way down to the wrists. I’d make Iverson wear a turtleneck jersey with sleeves. I’d cover the tats.

Jason Whitlock, our own one-man American Sporting Taliban.  Cover his legs too. Give Iverson, Anthony, West, and Hughes a burqa when they report next season. Make Chris Douglas-Roberts know he’s got to put one on when he signs his rookie deal. It’s the only way to not offend a constituency that we’re not sure exists!  Ayatollah Whitlock has decreed this fatwa, effective this 29th of May, in the year 2008.

Do you think Sports Illustrated would let its swimsuit models cover themselves in tattoos? Models are paid to look good. Athletes are no different from models. Everyone accepts that female basketball players — when possible — are pushed to showcase their feminine beauty.

Athletes are no different than models. Nice. Just because we accept it doesn’t mean it’s right, Jason. Also, SI has no problem with tattoos on athletes now — please see Josh Hamilton again.

It’s unfortunate that too many young athletes are too unenlightened to approach the game like a business. They resist almost all ideas that would put more money in their pockets. They have to be forced to do the little things that would help them make more money.

Growing NBA ratings is what’s best for the players in the long term. Adopting a non-prison-ready appearance would help everyone in the league earn more money. But no one will talk about it.

Yeah, because no one wants to come off looking like an unenlightened, 19th century-living moron who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. And let’s not mistake the construction of this: They have to be forced to do the little things that would help them make more money. It’s more than a little fascist sounding, isn’t it?  At the very least, it’s horrifically condescending to treat grown men like this. I know what’s best for you and will make you more money.

Whitlock is happy to judge a book by its cover and say that because someone else does it, the book has to be completely re-written.

watching and waiting.

So, with the regular season back in swing, what are we to make of one of the most mercurial teams in the Association?

For me, it’s like waiting for the promise of great things to develop between Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson to finally roll around; when the electricity sparks the teams to wins and a formidable presence — not that team that’s going to win a title; the West is too stacked for that to happen — the one that none of the top teams wants to face.

That isn’t happening. The Nuggets lost to the Spurs last night, and while you get good individual performances out of both Anthony and AI, you wonder if they’ll put it together with the rest of the team, when the parts will come together as a whole. They’ll make the playoffs, but eventually we’ll get sick of one and outs. Someone’s going to have to play defense on that team.

(I’ll probably get around to an NBA general assessment of playoff teams as they stand soon.)