Between Allen Iverson And Steve Nash, The Answer is Nash

And It Is Not Even Close

nashIversonWith the latest injury and announcement that 40-year-old future hall of famer Steve Nash will miss the entire upcoming NBA season, many in the media have begun to understandably eulogize Nash’s career.  Indeed, we have likely see the last of him as far as playing in the NBA. One comparison I hear making the rounds is who was better between he and another great guard destined for the hall of fame, Allen Iverson.

Most I have listened to on ESPN, led by an admittedly biased Stephen A. Smith, (Smith credits A.I. for helping him in his career in sports print/TV journalism) either slightly or heavily point to Iverson as being the better or the two, and or the one they pick for their team. I believe Stephen A. stated that A.I. was on another level compared to Nash.

Hogwash. Iverson was great but players like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook must get sick hearing talk about Iverson sometimes, because when they shoot a lot, they’re selfish ball stoppers. When A.I. shoots a lot, despite how many times he misses, he is demonstrating heart. Because A.I. was very tough, fearless, and lets face it, short by NBA standards, he sometimes got a pass on being a volume shooter, and dare I say selfish player, that others would not.

With Nash and Iverson you can make the debatable argument that if either is the best player on your team you will not win a championship. Assuming that is the case, I am far more confident that Nash could have an easier time adjusting his game, and being the second best player on a team than Iverson.

We know Nash was an all-time great passer.  Currently he is number three on the all time assist list.  Yes, he did more to make his teammates better, but he was also a great two, three, and foul shooter, as demonstrated by being part of the exclusive 50-40-90 club  (pointed out by Smith’s sparring partner on ESPN’s First Take, Skip Bayless, who does give a slight edge to Nash.)

Here is a question to ask yourself in the comparison. Hoopsmanifesto
lists the top ten NBA players of all-time as being:

10 – Kobe Bryant

9 – Shaquille O’Neal

8 – LeBron James

7 – Tim Duncan

6 – Wilt Chamberlain

5 – Larry Bird

4 – Magic Johnson

3 – Kareem Abdul- Jabbar

2 – Bill Russell

1 – Michael Jordan

If we could ask them, who on this list do you think would prefer to play with A.I. and who would want to play with Nash? With the possible exception of Magic, my bet is that everyone would rather play with Nash.  Let’s add some more names, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Julius Erving, Reggie Miller, etc, etc… who would most to all of these guys rather play with between A.I. and Nash?  That is the player I want on my team.

And yes, I have to talk about practice… Who is the better practice player? The more coachable player? More likely to make teammates better? To lead by example and be a better mentor? The answer to all of these is Nash. Better raw skills? I will give that slight edge to A.I. but that does not make him the better nor more desirable player.

A.I. did play with tremendous heart, but because of height, I think he gets talked about and elevated over others I would take before him in a team game…To name some:  Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, and Gary Payton come to mind as others I would take over A.I..  (Isaiah Thomas is already acknowledged by most as being better than Iverson)

The Dallas Cowboys: From America’s Team To America’s Joke?

cowboysWhen I was growing up you either loved the Dallas Cowboys or hated them.  Either way you agreed on two things: You respected them, and loved their cheerleaders.

They had great NFC east rivalries with teams like the Washington Redskins and NY Giants, and of course the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC.  They were winners and usually were competitive.

cowboyspwallAnd then in 1989 Jerry Jones bought the team.  Jones, who can be sincerely commended for his charity foundation, has slowly transformed the Cowboy brand from one of respect and esteem to that of a car wreck where people can’t help but look.  They’ve become the subject of ridicule and border on becoming irrelevant.

After the team’s early success in the Jones’ reign, winning an impressive three Super Bowls (1993, 94 & 96) in four years, in which Jones deserves some  credit, the Cowboys have spiraled into consistent mediocrity and late season failure.

There are four key points that are the main examples of where Jones has gone wrong.

1– The disrespectful way in which he fired a legendary hall of fame coach in Tom Landry.  As an overenthusiastic new owner, Jones came riding in and summarily dismissed one of the games most respected figures.

He would later apologize for how this was handled and welcome Landry into the ring of honor (1993) but the initial damage to Jones’ credibility and Cowboy image was done.

cowboysjohnson2– The untimely dismissal of coach Jimmy Johnson.  The Cowboys had a chance to do something that had never been done before: win three Super Bowls in a row.  He had a rift with Johnson.  Apparently among other things, Jones wasn’t happy with the credit Johnson was getting for the team’s winning, and the lack of credit for himself.

The childish feud between the two ultimately didn’t look good for either. However, Jones should have found a way to make it work for one more season.  He robbed the sports world of what might have been.

So in comes easy-going, not as hard-working Barry Switzer.  After blowing the threepeat opportunity, (in a mistake filled playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers that the Cowboys didn’t have under Johnson),  the great Cowboy players lead by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, did win another Super Bowl on muscle memory the following year in 1996.

That was the beginning of the end of the team’s success.  Switzer resigned after a 6-10 season in 1997 and has never had a whiff of the NFL since.  Switzer never coached in the NFL again.

cowboysJJ3– Naming himself general manager.  As ESPN commentator/ Dallas Cowboy/ Jimmy Jones fan Skip Bayless likes to point out, Jerry Jones played the game, he is not an owner without first hand knowledge of football.  Yeah, and I took tae kwon do in college, doesn’t mean I can choreograph a $200 million Jackie Chan martial arts movie.  The Cowboys have sunken into mediocrity and haven’t had a taste of a Super Bowl since the days of Aikmen, Smith and Irving.

cowboysparcells4-Choosing Terrell Owens over Bill Parcells.  The last strong personality Jones brought to the table was head coach Bill Parcells.  The Tuna, had the Boys headed in the right direction.  He got them to the playoffs and a fluke miscue by a young Tony Romo cost them a chance at moving on.

In fairness to Jones, Parcells always seemed to have one eye on the exit door no matter where he was.  But given a choice and a chance to keep him, if it meant parting with Owens?  Jones should have done what it took to keep Parcells.

After this dalliance with a coach of credibility, track record and respect, it was on to low profile coaches that would enable Jones to be the off the field star and voice of the franchise.

While I can’t feel sorry for a man who plays football for a living and has a contract worth over 100 million for doing so, Tony Romo has paid a price for these decisions.  Romo is a very good quarterback with flashes of greatness who has not been able to capitalize on opportunities he has had for next level greatness.  (He is not “elite”, however, I put him somewhere in-between where his supporters and detractors place him.)

cowboysParcellsRomoSurely, Romo, and the Cowboys, would have benefited from the continued coaching and mentoring of Bill Parcells or someone of his gravitas and stature.  And of course the predictable Terrell Owens sideshow of distractions could have been avoided.

These four points trace back to one thing.  Jerry Jones’ ego.

Think I’m being hard on Jones?  Ask yourself this:  If Jerry Jones was just a GM, not an owner, and quit or was fired as the GM, would any other team even interview him to be their GM?  To be their GM assistant?  He would get offered another GM job around the same time Matt Millen would.

So basically, a guy who couldn’t get an interview for a job as a GM anywhere is running America’s team.

If Jerry Jones the owner and GM were two separate people, and he had the track record of the Cowboys since 1997 (one playoff win) don’t you think Jerry Jones the owner would fire or not renew the contract of Jerry Jones the GM?

No owner in the history of sports cared more about winning than George Steinbrenner, the late owner of the New York Yankees.  Especially in his younger days, he was hostile, arrogant, and even a tad nuts.  He fired many managers, but never because they won or got to much credit.

Steinbrenner wouldn’t hesitate to override a GM and sign someone he wanted, but was never foolish enough to not have a GM.  Losing was unacceptable but if you won you could get away with almost anything.

Jones has the money to sign one of the best and brightest minds to be GM and benefit from a sound voice.  Jones could still ultimately make decisions.

But I’m guessing now that Jones is in so deep, he won’t bring a GM in because he would get the credit for turning the team around.  It’s as if Jones doesn’t want to win if he doesn’t get the credit.  And he is holding an entire fan base hostage to his fantasy.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says it best when he characterizes the Cowboys as a dysfunctional bunch.  And when it comes to making the playoffs, Smith correctly states their recent track record is for them to find a way to break your hearts and are an accident waiting to happen.

Since “the accident”, (A Kyle Orton final drive interception leading to a loss to the Eagles in the last game of the season with the playoffs on the line), occurred this year with an injured Tony Romo unable to play (and take the blame) I’m going to start referring to that phenomenon as the curse of the Owner/GM.

Fire yourself as GM Jerry, and set your team free.  It will be good for you, good for Cowboy nation and good for football.

History On The Side of Patriots With The Signing of Tim Tebow

tebowpats

CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco tweets that: ” signing Tebow, (Tim) is Patriot arrogance at work”.  Not that the Patriots are incapable of arrogance, but in this case the label doesn’t apply.

History, in more ways than one, is what the Patriots have going for them with the apparent imminent signing of Tim Tebow.  First, let’s rewind the tape of the cacophony of criticism leveled at Tebow the quarterback.  Even amongst some of his most ardent detractors, such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who said Tebow can’t throw, he’ll never be a quarterback in this league (NFL), etc, etc, many still agreed that he is:

  • An incredibly hard worker.
  • Very likable.
  • Great locker room guy.
  • A good football player, just not a quarterback.

That last one is kind of important.  You know, being a good football player.  While the haters enjoyed Tebow not getting any free agent offers after being released by the NY Jets, even they would admit it was due, in part, to rumors that he was insisting on being signed as a quarterback only.  That if Tebow agreed to play another position he could draw more interest.

Well guess what “sources” are saying about Tebow in New England?  That, in addition to being a third string QB, he will see some time at tight end, possibly fullback and special teams .

belichik-myer

New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichik & Urban Meyer

Now, to Patriot history in particular.  Tebow played for Urban Meyer at Florida.   A Bill Belichik guy.  Patriot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted him out of college when he was the coach of the Denver Broncos.  Right or wrong, those types of connections mean something within the fraternity of sports.  Taking a chance on a player when guys you know and trust vouch for them, that “outsiders” might not be high on, is not new.  Tebow is not the first or last player to benefit from this.

It’s neither Tebow’s, nor the Patriots’ fault that the media chooses to cover the signing of a versatile third string quarterback to the extent that it is.  And the move should not be judged on that basis.

Unlike Tebow’s other two stops, there will be no quarterback controversy here.  Even the most fervent Tebow fans will never confuse Kyle Orton and Mark Sanchez with the Golden Boy, Tom Brady.  That alone will reduce the much feared and talked about “circus” affect that Tebow brings.  Belichik’s experience in dealing with the potential for circus type distractions will take care of much of the rest.  This isn’t arrogance.  It is history.

As pointed out by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, signing him now is no lock that he makes the roster.  Although I think he will.  Aside from how Tebow can possibly help on game day, there is also that new flavor of the month offense that teams are employing called the read option… Something Tebow can help them prepare for in practice.

When you consider that:

  • There is no QB controversy.
  • That Tebow brings a versatile skill set not typical of a third string QB.
  • That he’s not costing them much.
  • That he is a great locker room guy.
  • That the Patriots are perhaps the most stable organization in football, capable of weathering a potential distraction of the move working or not.

The potential upside outweighs the potential down.  And that, is what we call a good move.