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Unloading Camby a shrewd move on the Nuggets’ part

Mike VidakovichGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich
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Don’t count me in as one of those who was sad to see former Nuggets center Marcus Camby get shipped off to the Los Angeles Clippers.Goodbye and good riddance, Marcus. Don’t let the screen door hit you.As a lifelong Denver Nuggets (and ABA Rockets) fan, a feeling of indifference is as much as I could muster when I heard of the Camby departure. I was much more dismayed to hear that the team’s one constant (in terms of team play, all-around hustle, and playing hard every game), Eddie Najera, had signed a free agent contract with New Jersey and would be taking his game to the East Coast.Najera will be sorely missed. Camby won’t.With the exception of this past season, Camby has never come close to playing an entire 82-game schedule for the Nuggets. Since joining the Denver franchise during the 2002-03 season, Camby has missed an average of nearly 14 games per year with such critical ailments as a sore elbow, stomach cramps, and the always debilitating sprained pinky.That’s right, a sprained pinky.There’s no arguing that Camby did put together a solid campaign this past season, leading the NBA in rebounds and blocked shots. You can’t dispute the numbers he put up in those categories (13.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots per game). You would think the NBA’s top defender would prove to be an immovable object in the paint, one who could go toe to toe with the best big men in the league and provide help in checking enemy guard penetration with his presence.Camby does neither.He is unable to guard the opposition’s center because of his slight frame, lack of strength and feet of clay. Camby also lacks the necessary quickness to venture out of the lane to guard a power forward. In a nutshell, Camby gives the Nuggets defensive nightmares when matched up against some of the league’s elite big men. Forward Kenyon Martin, who could easily be termed just a plain nightmare based on his inconsistent play and personality, is usually assigned to try and guard the other team’s center. The result is not good most nights.Camby does block shots with the windmill swipes of his long, gangly arms, which draws oohs and aahs from the crowd. The problem is the ball ends up in the fourth row and the opposition retains possession. Camby needs to sit down and watch some vintage Bill Russell video when he was in his prime with the Celtics, or the great Bill Walton, who manned the interior for the UCLA dynasty of the mid-1970s. They were both shot blockers and rebounders without peers who would keep the deflected attempt in play and start the fastbreak with a crisp outlet pass down the court.Camby was never one to run the court with reckless abandon, and at age 33 watching him try to get from one end of the court to the other may have Clipper fans wondering if they accidentally took a wrong turn into a theater and are watching “The Marcus Camby Story,” frame by frame.Granted, the Nuggets front office handled the trade scenario poorly, but the franchise has been known for nothing but blunders this past decade (see Nene, Kenyon Martin, trading Andre Miller for Allen Iverson, etc.). The Nuggets did the right thing in unloading Camby on the already hapless Clippers and freeing up more than $10 million in salary space. The extra cash can now be used to re-sign meteoric guard J.R. Smith. They already signed free agent Chris “The Birdman” Anderson, who is a versatile 6-foot-10, high-energy player who can score, run the court and rebound every bit as well as Camby. With Camby gone, I can now only wait and hope that the Nuggets choose to get rid of the other albatross that hangs around their neck – Carmelo Anthony.I’ve never been able to warm up to the young man, and probably never will. Anthony has the wrong attitude, no work ethic and most of the time thinks only of himself. Call him the antithesis of Eddie Najera. The Nuggets will never get to the promised land with Anthony as the focal point of the team. No way.The Nuggets should also look into sending Coach George Karl on an all-expenses-paid trip out to Salt Lake City so he can sit down and talk with Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan to get an introductory idea as to how to coach an NBA team. Sloan is the longest-tenured coach in all of professional sports and the best in the business. I’m still wondering what Karl is best at. It’s certainly not coaching.Finally, the icing on the cake would be the Nuggets sending broadcaster S-s-s-scott H-h-h-hastings packing. No, that’s not a misprint you just read. Anyone who can sit through an entire Denver Nuggets broadcast listening to Hastings stutter and blame the referees for all of the home team’s woes is a better man than I. Send Hastings to the Broncos. I never watch them anyway (since they fired Coach Reeves) and he could drive Dave Logan crazy.I’ve often joked with friends that I only want to live long enough to see the Nuggets win the NBA championship. At the rate things are going, I’m feeling confident I’ll be around well into triple digits.Mike Vidakovich is a freelance writer for the Post Independent.


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