42 Seconds: Cruising the Streets of Denver

Published: September 8, 2011

((Let’s face it: I overthink. I overanalyze. I overtalk, overlink, over and over. There’s a time and a place for 5,000 word posts, and I enjoy spacetime coordinates as much as the next guy. There is, however, a time and a place for a different sort of post. This little series is my little attempt to grow as a writer and deliver the goods via my reflections on my reflections in a few words, relatively speaking. Enjoy.))

A few weeks ago I was in Denver for a while, and I took the opportunity, as I often do in such situations, to explore. It was my first time to the great state of Colorado, after all.

I made sure to hit the major areas, including all the sports facilities.

Confession: I take in other places with regularity and love to learn about them, the people, their culture, and especially their food. While I do this, I often compare places to home, to New Orleans, and almost cynically look for ways these places fall short.

Denver made this very difficult. It’s just a great place. It’s spacious, clean, has the big city stuff, has the small town stuff, yada yada yada.

I thought the above very clearly while driving down a stretch of Broadway that I wouldn’t mind being exiled to if New Orleans fell off the face of Earth. I had just finished up a meal at Smashburger, so that may have influenced me. Not only is Smashburger a great place, but they also have fried egg as a add-on for burgers. I’ve recently discovered that a fried egg does to a burger what a patty does to a bun. So I was juiced up, both with the oils slowing their runs down my arms and the glutamic acid starting to pour into by brain.

Likely because I was heading toward Speer, which would take me to downtown, Coors Field, and the Pepsi Center, I then thought, “This is a perfectly good place to live. Why the hell would Carmelo Anthony want to move?”

Yeah, I know, New York is incomparable: it’s basically another planet, HIS home (or one of two), and his wife had a say. I’m fine with that. It just got me thinking. Can’t a man think?

Of course, I’m thinking about Chris Paul by proxy here, thus, the New Orleans Hornets.

Finally downtown, I went to see the Pepsi Center. Again, I wanted to hate this joint, if for no other reason that I’m not big on Pepsi. I’ll drink it if hospitality demands, but I’ll swap it at a restaurant if they slip some in my glass. Tea, please. Regardless, it’s a nice place. Tons of parking, event space, throroughfares, and supporting commerce, like restaurants. Plus, it’s a great location. Location, location, location.

Ditto for Coors Field, but the parking and event space don’t seem as plentiful.

At any rate, all this got me to thinking that Carmelo Anthony is just a selfish jerk . . . foolishly, sadly, chasing the dollar, forsaking a good life out in Denver so he can make up some income that the max deal structure stifles.

As I turn around in the gas station, “Is the salvation of the small market team the destruction of such caps?”

Nah. That’s crazy talk. The key is the NBA finding ways to route money to players in a way that keeps the total package good when you are an NBA player, not an NBA player here or there.

After picking up an ice cream Snickers and a dragonfruit vitaminwater at a 7-11 and sharing some spine tingling moments with Mile High (it is majestic), I started thinking about Elway. Elway did it in Denver (and still is on the money end), even after his prima donna antics coming out of Stanford. Maybe Carmelo knew he couldn’t stack up.

As I turn onto 6, crank up Avantasia, and reflect, it occurs to me . . . I don’t think anyone else is listening to Avantasia. That has nothing to do with anything in itself, but far too few are familiar with this fantastic Tobais Sammet project. If only others knew what I knew, they’d be big on Tobi just like me.

Likewise, when I see what Denver has to offer and bounce it against what I know of Carmelo, I can only come to one conclusion: I have no idea whatsoever what it’s like to be a max deal player in the NBA. I can’t even really reason it out.

If he’s so good, won’t the money follow him lilke it does Peyton Manning in Indianapolis? If not, is he that good?

If he’s so good, can’t he win anywhere? If not, is he that good?

Again, I have no idea how this all works. Really works. I can imagine how my life would work `bigified’ on the paycheck side, but I don’t know what nightmares shall come.

So, I’m not worried about trying to figure it out anymore. It’s not winning only, it’s not money only, it’s not preference only. These guys’ lives are so different from mine that it’s far beyond my comprehension.

Ay, there’s the rub: the fortunes of teams are tightly tied to the whims of players due to the structure of the games and business. Any owner who is driven by profit enough to amass a large fraction of a billion dollars can’t enjoy profits being tied to so unpredictable an asset as an NBA player.

But how to control the whims of such players in an acceptable way to the whole? My conclusion: There will be a way to designate a special player on the team that can be dealt with apart from the others. A big salary that isn’t big enough just doesn’t cut it, clearly, and won’t cut it. The reality of the NBA is that such players exist, and the system should reflect said reality rather than ignore it or deny it. The marketing embraces it, as should the CBA.

To sleep: perchance to dream.


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