The other night I was laying down and trying to figure out who our No. 1 rivals were. I mean the Broncos have the Raiders, who do the Nuggets have? Is it the Blazers? Lakers? Jazz? Spurs? Or even the Mavericks? It’s funny how playoff series bring out the worst in rivalries and I originally started thinking it was the Lakers. However, a few years ago one would have thought it was the Spurs. But on my drive to the Pepsi Center Tuesday it occurred to me the Mavs are about as close as rival as we have. The two squads have so much history, just look into the Nugs 127-91 shellacking of the Mavs:
- Former Nugget Eduardo Najera started the game for Dallas.
- Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle used to coach Chauncey Billups in Detroit.
- Dallas’s power forward Drew Gooden was the third pick in 2002, while Nene was the seventh pick.
- The Mavericks’ star Dirk Nowitzki was selected with the ninth pick in 1998, while Denver drafted Raef LaFrentz with the third. LaFrentz was later dealt with Nick Van Exel, Avery Johnson and Tariq Abdul-Wahad to Dallas in 2001 for Juwan Howard, Donnell Harvey and Tim Hardaway. Which at the time looked like a one-sided deal, but Denver was able to free up some cap-space to sign Andre Miller and Kenyon Martin.
- Mavericks’ assistant coach Popeye Jones used to play for the Nuggets in 1999.
- Nuggets’ assistant coach Adrian Dantley played for Dallas in 1988.
- Both teams starting small forwards, Carmelo Anthony and Josh Howard were drafted in 2003.
Not affiliated with the game, but I had to watch the youtube clips of Kenyon Martin getting into it with Mark Cuban: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jgxlPfSr-0 and Lala going crazy in the stands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNYO36PKhdA&feature=related. There is no love loss between the two teams and they meet one more time in late March.
While Dallas is a struggling team, but as an observer of basketball I am a fan of some of the Mavs players. Not so much their roles with Dallas, but more on how they would look with the Nuggets.
- Najera is a nice bench player, and would an ideal player to come off the bench with Chris Andersen. Not to mention Najera has a partially guaranteed contract.
- Gooden has solid post moves and is a good rebounder, but he isn’t somebody that you can count on for a consistent performance. And with how deep Denver is, Gooden would be able to spell Nene and K-Mart and give the Nuggets a little more size. And like
Najera, D-Good has a partially guaranteed contract.
- Of all the players Dallas brought in last summer, Quinton Ross was one that I really liked. The first time I saw Q-Ross play it was in the first round of the playoffs in 2005-06 when he was with the LA Clippers. Ross played aggressive defense on Melo and frustrated Denver’s star. Ross has a minimum salary contract.
- There aren’t many pure shooters left in the NBA, but Matt Carroll is one of the few. A career .398 percent 3-point shooter, and I am confused on why he doesn’t see the floor more often. If anything he can spread the floor, freeing up scorers like Dirk or Howard or Shawn Marion. He has a very bad contract in terms of his minutes on the floor. He is due $4.7 million this year, but his contract drops each of the next few years ($4.3 million in 2010-11, $3.9 million in 2011-12 and $3.5 million in 2012-13).
- James Singleton has some ups and has worked his butt off to get into the NBA. Singleton graduated from Murray State in 2003 and didn’t make it into the league until 2005. Singleton is a versatile forward, whose length is intriguing. As an athletic 6-foot-9 forward, he can play the four and also make life tough for most threes. He also has developed his shot and can hit from behind the arc.
Other Game tidbits
- Basketball must run in the family of official Dan Crawford, who was officiating last night’s game. His son, Drew, is in the running for Freshman of the Year of the Big Ten.
- Hall of Fame QB John Elway was at the game, also attending the game was Champ Bailey, who was joined by Dre Bly. Former Broncos’ running back Tatum Bell was also at the game.
- Seldom used center Johan Petro scored 13 points and had five rebounds as he and Malik Allen filled in for K-Mart.
- The Birdman is growing a ‘stache.