Denver Nuggets

Stiff List: Disgruntled coaches and players, TNT and the NBA’s last two-minute report

George Karl’s tell-all book and its contents have been well documented by the Denver Stiffs since excerpts were released last week. Karl’s decision to throw many of his old Nuggets players under the bus deserves the top spot on this week’s Stiff List. I think we can all agree that Carmelo Anthony’s defense and J.R. Smith’s shot selection were not ideal, but the personal attacks that he made against these two, as well as Kenyon Martin, were not necessary and did nothing but aggravate them and others. It’s one thing to write a book that talks about your experiences, and maybe even the difficulties that you had with certain players, but to claim that a player struggled with “how to act like a man” because of his lack of a father is taking it too far and the only purpose I can think of is to maybe try and make himself look better during his tenure with the Nuggets for having to deal with such “conundrums.” If that was the intent, I think it’s safe to say he failed. To Karl’s credit, he did apologize for the comments when he went on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, saying he “said it poorly” and “the one thing I know about Kenyon Martin is he’s a good father.”

The NBA announced on Wednesday that the game time for the matchup between the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs on January 5th had been changed to 7:00 p.m. MST. The reason for the time change? The Nuggets were supposed to play on TNT that night to be displayed in front of a national audience. Instead, TNT opted to broadcast the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers instead.

Obviously, showcasing a team that carries as much attention as the Lakers is not a bad idea for TNT, but I think Nuggets fans can all agree they are allowing the nation to miss out on the excitement and potential of Nikola Jokic and the rest of the young Nuggets squad. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of talent between the Lakers and Blazers, but Jokic has been thriving since the lineup change, and so have the Nuggets. A chance for fans to see them compete against the Spurs would have been nice, but oh well. It’s not meant to be yet, I guess.

The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets faced off on Tuesday night and…well, things got heated. There were eight technical fouls and two flagrant fouls in the game, and at the end of it, there were several very offended Rockets players. Apparently, Salah Mejri said something about Trevor Ariza’s family, and it was bad enough that Ariza waited for him at the end of the game to share some words. James Harden stated that the Mavericks disrespected them as a team, and Patrick Beverley must have agreed because he waited around after the game in order to share his feelings with Head Coach Rick Carlisle. It’s one thing to participate in some trash talking, but the Mavericks obviously took it to a whole other level. Not only that, they lost the game 123-107. Gotta back up your trash talk, Mavs, or else you just look desperate.

There’s been a lot to make out of the NBA Officiating Last Two-Minute Report lately. This report, that is supposed to bring accountability to NBA referees, examines calls and no-calls that were made in the last two minutes of close games. The Nuggets, unfortunately, have found out twice now that they would have won a game or at least had a much better chance at winning the game had the calls been made correctly. The report for last week’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, for example, stated that Jokic should not have been fouled out with less than 43 seconds in the game and the Nuggets up 108-104. The Nuggets, of course, ended up losing that game 109-108. So, yeah, not a great look for the referees.

However, Kevin Durant has something to say about this report, and it has nothing to do with its contents but rather its existence in general. Durant went on a bit of a rant this week, claiming that the last two-minute report throws the referees under the bus and makes them out to be the bad guys when it’s up to the teams to decide who wins the games. Essentially, Durant wants the NBA to get rid of it because he thinks it makes the refs more tense while they are calling games, as they know that the calls (or no-calls) that they make in the last two minutes are going to be evaluated and made public. LeBron James agrees with Durant, claiming that the report discredits the other 46 minutes of the game. Whether you agree with Durant and LeBron or not, between his criticism and the league admitting the referees blew some important calls down the stretch, it has not been a good week for the reputation of the two-minute report.

What happens when a team accumulates three big men within the span of three years, all with bright and promising futures? It’s not hard to guess, but apparently the 76ers thought that was a good idea. The 76ers obtained Nerlens Noel first in 2013, then drafted Joel Embiid with the third pick the next year, and followed that up by drafting Jahlil Okafor. Regardless of whether you think they drafted the best player on the board each of these three years is besides the point – the team should have had better insight. Now, Noel has been forced to make public comments on his lack of playing time, stating that he’s “too good to be playing eight minutes.” When all three of those players are healthy, one is always going to be left out. Who could have seen that coming?

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