Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony has his shot challenged by Spurs power… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )
It became fourth and long
Remember that ESPN source who said the Carmelo Anthony-to-New Jersey deal was "on the 10-yard line?"
Well, it just punted.
Leaving U.S. reporters' jaws dropping, billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled the plug.
Of course, with everyone else aware it was a fire sale, only Prokhorov's zeal for a star had driven the deal that far.
With Anthony still reshaping it three months later, it occurred to Prokhorov he wasn't looking dynamic, but like a schnook.
General Manager Billy King, who has barely met Prokhorov who jets in occasionally, said he almost ended it himself, noting:
"This is not like the Titanic, this happens and the ship sinks."
At 12-31, they sank long ago.
In the perfect postscript, ESPN's John Anderson mimicked Ivan Drago standing over the fallen Apollo Creed:
"If the deal dies, it dies."
Hey N.Y., welcome to N.J.
Anthony's dream team, the New York Knicks, may offer Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler, even if they can sign Anthony as a free agent and Coach Mike D'Antoni and Amare Stoudemire don't want him.
Owner James Dolan does, and, amazingly, has a point:
With Anthony and Stoudemire, they'd be the default destination for free agent Chris Paul in 2012.
Even saving the money, they wouldn't be Dwight Howard's default destination if he leaves Orlando in 2012.
That's the Lakers.
The handwriting was on the wall last summer when Paul joked about he, Anthony and Stoudemire forming their own big three in his toast at Anthony's wedding, in New York.
Denver owner Stan Kroenke stomped out and ordered Anthony traded.
Start spreadin' the news. …
Pray for Griffin
Meet everyone's new favorites ... the Clippers?
Well, at least one of them, Blake Griffin, whose dunks are like 20% of ESPN's highlights these days.
Unfortunately, the only defense teams have found is elbowing, shoving or punching before he's airborne.
Commissioner David Stern, who barred mid-air clotheslines, et al, to free Michael Jordan, owes as much to, and may profit almost as much from, Griffin.
Take out all intentional fouls. If it's not a play on the ball, it's two free throws and possession.
Fans never came to see players fouled, not even Griffin, whom they should remember in their prayers.
The question isn't whether Griffin and Kevin Love are All-Stars, but if they're not, what's an All-Star?... That winning team thing is OK — when it's close. Love is averaging 21 points with the best rebound-per-minute average in 14 years. … If LeBron James noted Griffin isn't really a rookie, Griffin's numbers this month (27-14-4) are right there with James' 27-7-7 in Year 2. … No. 1 San Antonio deserves three spots — assuming Tim Duncan makes it (but why is he a forward again?). As for the distant No. 2 Lakers, if Lamar Odom is deserving, why is Pau Gasol a lock?
Close, almost: I wrote Anthony made the playoffs once before Chauncey Billups' 2008 arrival. Anthony made it in all four of his previous seasons. … Free exchange of ideas: Prokhorov lamented the talks were so public, absolving his people. King put it on the Nuggets ("They had an ownership takeover, new management. It was the perfect storm for something to go wrong."). … Actually, information streamed out of New Jersey.