NBA

Fans return to Big 12, apologies to Kroenke and Carmelo Anthony

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November 20, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes linebacker Robert Barnes (20) celebrates his fumble recovery with defensive end Mustafa Johnson (34) in the second quarter against the Washington Huskies at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hit a: It’s the middle of summer, so obviously it’s time for another college football bombshell to drop. Just at the right time, the Pac 12 decided to deliver. In the true Oklahoma spirit of “Whatever Texas decides to do, we will do too,” UCLA decided to join USC and drop the conference they used to run and lock in for frozen tundra and big Big Ten paydays.

On the face of it, this is an incredibly bad decision geographically and logistically. Travel and schedules for anything other than football will be crazy. The costs will be enormous. But all of that is offset by the paydays which will be even bigger, and as we know, that’s all that really matters.

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It’s been over a decade now since the University of Colorado made the well-considered and logical decision (given what was known at the time) to leave the Texas-led Big 12 for top destinations. , better academics and potentially better rivalries, not to mention the promised lucrative revenue stream, in the Pac 12. Now this conference is in scramble mode and may not survive in the long run.

Again, “long term” and college athletics can no longer be used in the same sentence.

The problem starts with the fact that the Pac 12 never delivered what it promised USC and UCLA or CU. Not from a competitive point of view and especially not from a financial point of view. CU haven’t received anything close to the kind of financial windfall from the conference they’ve been counting on, literally, and now that the league appears to be on life support, they certainly won’t.

So what’s a Buffalo supposed to do now?

Staying in the Pac 12 is most likely. The conference will no doubt look to fill in the gaps with schools like Boise State and Air Force, for example (easy, CSU fans. Let’s not go too far ahead). However, CU would be well within their rights to seek to move conferences, right?

Placing USC and UCLA in the Big Ten will give this conference 16 teams, likely creating a pair of eight-team divisions. The SEC is already there.

Could CU’s former haunt, the Big 12, follow suit?

When OU and Texas make the move and officially leave the conference, the new Big 12 will be back at logical 12 schools, having added BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. So they would still have room to reach 16 if they wanted to grow and compete against their rival conferences.

Would the Buffs be a program that the Big 12 would like to recover? Is that even an option?

In the age of college athletics, everything is an option.

And yes, Colorado State fans, this move by UCLA and USC could potentially open the door for a rejuvenated Rams program (fingers crossed) to become a more attractive addition to a Power Five conference. But there are so many more dominoes that will have to fall first, like the Rams football program returning to respectability.

It could also be that by the time moves like these are brewing, there won’t even be a Power Five. Instead, the long-awaited Super League of College Football will have already hatched.

We will probably have to wait until the middle of summer 2023 or 2024 to find out.

Strike two: Team owners are easy targets. When things go wrong, we tend to focus at the very top where change can be dictated. Fire that guy, pay for that player, and so on. They are usually blamed, but rarely – at least until they are an afterthought – do they receive much credit.

Granted, Stan Kroenke and company have received plenty of criticism here over the years, a good portion of it deserved. Many of us criticized them for things like firing George Karl in 2013 and leaving Masai Ujiri over what appeared to be money differences. When a team owner has more money than a small third world country, fans expect that owner, rightly or not, to spend it on the team so they can theoretically put a winner on the floor. Letting the NBA Coach and Executive of the Year walk away after a successful season doesn’t please fans. The same goes for the recent departure of Tim Connelly. Seemed to be just a matter of money. This does not please the fans.

Then there’s the ongoing money feud between Kroenke and Comcast, the ongoing dispute continuing to keep much of Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche fans from being able to watch their favorites on TV. This fall, this standoff will enter its fourth year. Although the “who’s right and who’s wrong” part is unclear, all fans know that they can’t watch the games. The blame spreads to everyone involved.

Then there is the flip side.

Truly, every fan can reasonably expect the ownership of our favorite teams to put a winner on the field for them to cheer on. With that as a criterion, Stan Kroenke and Co. have a “dashboard” in a very important way. Everything happens Kroenke.

Many of us owe the owner and his organization a tip and an apology.

While it’s no secret that Kroenke is driven by the bottom line – many who have worked for KSE use the word “cheap” – he has scorecards. Currently, he is the owner of the defending Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams (and the game was played in his gleaming football palace in Los Angeles), defending Stanley Cup champions , the Colorado Avalanche, as well as Major League Indoor Lacrosse Champions, the Colorado Mammoth. Colorado Rapids rose from the depths to become an MLS contender, and Kroenke’s Euro football team Arsenal FC finished a respectable fifth in the Premier League last season. It’s predicted they’ll end up in much the same place next season, but given how things are going for the owner, it might be wise to put a pound or two on Arsenal to win as well.

Strike three: The Basketball Hall of Fame isn’t incredibly difficult to get into. Two words: Dikembe Mutombo.

Now, the former Denver Nuggets center was a good NBA player — at least on one end of the court — but he clearly never made it to the game’s elite. He used his name and brand to do wonderful things outside of retired basketball, but that doesn’t make you a Hall of Fame player. Let’s just say the folks at Basketball Hall are a little more forgiving.

Another former Nugget will also end up in Springfield, Mass. Carmelo Anthony’s career numbers and success as an Olympian will see him listed alongside Mutombo. Neither has been an NBA MVP or champion, but the criteria aren’t as stringent as in some other sports. So it’s good.

What wouldn’t be right would be if the Nuggets organization decided to put Carmelo’s No. 15 jersey in the rafters alongside former Nuggets greats. Because Anthony does not belong to this group. (Note: The #15 jersey will one day fit in the Ball Arena rafters. But it won’t say “Anthony” on the back.)

To be honored as one of a franchise’s all-time greats is about more than just scoring bunches. It’s about leaving everything on the pitch for this team for many seasons. It’s about being the face of the franchise in good times and bad. That’s why Dan Issel, Alex English, David Thompson, Fat Lever, Byron Beck and Doug Moe are honored in the arena. Mutombo is up there too, which is a bit sketchy for some of us given all the different jerseys he wore during his well-traveled post-Nuggets playing career. But at least Mutombo didn’t go public with his desire to leave town because it wasn’t glamorous enough.

Anthony spent his first six full seasons in Denver and helped lift the team to new heights, including reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2009. As they grew around him, the Nuggets have become a playoff staple. But let’s not forget that it wasn’t until Chauncey Billups became a Nugget that the team finally made it past the first round of the playoffs.

Nonetheless, Anthony was part of a winning team and a winning culture in Denver under George Karl. A winner wouldn’t want to leave that.

Still, ‘Melo wanted out for purely selfish reasons that had nothing to do with winning. This right should be the disqualifying factor for any shirt removal.

In his seventh season in Denver, he finally got his wish and was traded to the struggling New York Knicks. He and his gold digger wife got their brightest lights, but no victories. Expected that he would lead New Yorkers to greater heights, he did not. His “me first” attitude didn’t work without a strong supporting cast, and in his six-plus seasons as the Knick, the team won exactly one playoff series. A.

After that, he moved to Oklahoma City for part of a season before being sent to Atlanta (where he never played a minute before being released) then Houston and then Portland. You get the picture. Last season he was part of the disaster in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

It’s clear that Anthony will end up in Basketball Hall because of his professional accomplishments. But just as clearly, he doesn’t belong among the Nuggets’ all-time greats, as he opted to bail out the winning franchise in search of more individual attention.

There’s no reason for the Nuggets to honor that.

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