I love political theater. There’s few things in the world I enjoy more than politicians stepping out of their boundaries to deliver lines at one another, whether pre-meditated or off the cuff. It’s like rap battles for stuffy, rich white dudes in suits, except in this medium, the punchlines don’t matter as much as their policy. (Just kidding. There can be an entire 90-minute debate on foreign policy, and all we’ll hear about is how Newt Gingrich called out Mitt Romney for not being a career politician! And we all go OOOO and news networks get their “politicians clash” stories and I die a little more inside.) I can’t help but be enraptured by the shenanigans of the guys that one day may run the country I live in.
One of my favorite moments came shortly before I was born (Yes, I’ve actually looked these up before), in the 1988 Vice Presidential debate between Democratic candidate Lloyd Bentsen and Republican candidate Dan Quayle. Quayle had taken to comparing himself to John F. Kennedy during the campaign run, and since he was sure to do it again, Bentsen came locked and loaded.
Quayle: Three times that I’ve had this question — and I will try to answer it again for you, as clearly as I can, because the question you’re asking is, “What kind of qualifications does Dan Quayle have to be president,” “What kind of qualifications do I have,” and “What would I do in this kind of a situation?” And what would I do in this situation? […] I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.
Judy Woodruff: Senator [Bentsen]?
Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.
His entire career, Carmelo has played the part of a superstar. He’s one of the most prolific and exciting offensive players in the NBA. He’s proven to be one of the best pure scorers in crunch time, and consistently ranks in the top 10 of both scoring and jersey sales. When assessing overall value, both on the floor and for the future, his lack of commitment to defense and middling efficiency raise more questions than answers.
Acquiring Carmelo Anthony was assuring nothing tangible. It was assuring “relevance” in the trade market and that the Nets had a “star” to enter Brooklyn with, but beyond that, what was there? The Nets potentially kill their cap space and ruin their roster to get a player who can score 30 nice-looking points per game and lead them to perpetual 45-48 win seasons.
More than anything else, that’s what frustrated me about the Carmelodrama: that the Nets were decimating their franchise for a guy that isn’t a franchise player. They were banking their entire future on a guy that 1) didn’t play defense, and 2) didn’t want to play with the Nets.
This isn’t that.
Dwight Howard is different because Dwight Howard is different. Howard is the guy who ranked as the #2 player in the NBA in the offseason’s NBARank. Dwight is the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, once-in-a-generation big man, and proven menace of the shot clock. Dwight is the guy you can build a championship contender around.
This is different because a trade for Dwight Howard ensures the future of Deron Williams in a Brooklyn Nets uniform, even after both opt out in 2012 to get max money. It ensures that the Nets have two superstars at important positions heading into the next chapter of their franchise. It ensures Brooklyn is rocking, and that the Nets are contending. It gives them, arguably, the best two-man combo in the NBA.
And unlike Carmelo Anthony, Dwight has given far more indications that he’d be happy in a Nets uniform.
I know Dwight Howard, and Carmelo Anthony is no Dwight Howard. This deal is not the Carmelo Anthony deal. When it comes to Dwight Howard, the benefits far outstrip any risk. Mark may disagree, but if the Nets pull this off, I don’t care if it happens tomorrow or next week or at the trade deadline on March 15th. I don’t care if I have to write “Nets nearing Howard before deal falls apart” 7,000 times. I don’t care if I’m balding by the end and can’t see out of my left eye because it’s been twitching for months. If the Nets get this done, there’s no looking back. Only ahead. With my twitchy left eye.