DENVER -- Carmelo Anthony's suspension is over. Let the
Can two high-scoring superstars coexist?
Sure, Iverson said, insisting he's carried the load for so long
in his career that he's ready to serve as wingman to the
"I've never played with nobody that good," Iverson said.
Anthony hasn't, either, and he, too, swears there won't be any
problems playing alongside A.I. After all, he thrived with the U.S.
team at the world championships last summer while playing with
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
"I can't wait to play with Allen," he said. "It's going to be
Iverson said offense won't be a problem when Anthony gets back,
and Anthony agrees.
"I think it's going to take some time to get a rhythm for
everybody when I come back," Anthony suggested. "We all got to
make an adjustment. It's going to take a couple of games."
Anthony, who returns from his 36-day absence Monday night when
the Nuggets face the Memphis Grizzlies at the Pepsi Center, said in
an open letter of apology to fans and the team on Sunday that he'll
return a better player and a better person.
He'll also return to a lineup that's much different from the one
he last saw on Dec. 16, when he clocked New York Knicks guard Mardy Collins, who had collared J.R. Smith on the way to the basket,
leading to a brawl that resulted in 10 ejections and seven
The day after the suspensions were handed down, the Nuggets sent
Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two first-round draft picks to
Philadelphia for Iverson. Then, they dealt Earl Boykins and Julius
Hodge to Milwaukee for Steve Blake, who helped the Nuggets win
their last three games to finish 7-8 without Anthony.
Coach George Karl has spent countless hours concocting plays to
complement both his superstars.
"They are both great offensive players," Karl said. "I'm not
into this [notion] that it won't work. I think great players like
to play with great players. Sometimes it's not as perfect and fluid
as the San Antonio Spurs or teams like that. But normally in time
you can figure that if they will cooperate and move the ball and
pass the ball, good stuff will happen."
Karl's contemporaries suggest the Nuggets will find a way to
make it work.
"There will be absolutely no problem," Spurs coach Greg
Popovich said. "They respect each other. Anthony has a great
inside game. George convinced him what a power he is down there.
Iverson has the penetration ability and perimeter."
Former Nuggets player Ruben Patterson, now with the Bucks, isn't
so sure things will click.
"There's only one NBA basketball," he said. "I don't know how
they're going to get all those shots off."
Spurs center Tim Duncan doesn't see that as a problem.
"Iverson and Carmelo will work well together," Duncan said.
"David Robinson and I got it done together. I'm not seeing
anything different from Carmelo and Allen. They are different types
of players than David and I were. They are both offensive-minded
and are volume shooters. I think Allen is one heck of a competitor
Anthony was enjoying his best season this year both on and off
the court when he threw his costly punch.
He had polished his public and corporate image and had steered
clear of the controversies that dogged him early in his career. He
gave $3 million to Syracuse, which he led to the national
championship in 2003, toward construction of a basketball facility
and donated $1.5 million to a Baltimore youth center just days
before the Grapple in the Apple.
Anthony, who got the harshest punishment of the seven suspended
players, figures he could have had the penalty reduced on appeal
but wanted to put the mess behind him.
"I'm glad I didn't appeal it," Anthony said. "I got tired of
seeing my name on the ticker-tape."
It appears Anthony won't suffer an All-Star snub for his
actions, either. Almost every Western Conference coach has said he
wouldn't have a problem voting him on as a reserve.
"He's young, he made a mistake. Let's all move on," Popovich
said. "I don't think it should be held against him."
"I don't see why he wouldn't be an All-Star," Utah coach Jerry
Sloan said. "He was playing like an All-Star. That's going to be a
very good team when they get him back."
And last week, Melo was named the 2006 USA Basketball male
athlete of the year for his leadership and 19.9-point average at
the world championships last summer.
Anthony spent his suspension working out and waiting.
During the first 10 games, when Smith also was banned from
basketball, the tandem would watch the Nuggets' games on Anthony's
big-screen TV, then drive downtown for intense, 90-minute 1-on-1
games at the Pepsi Center that went well past midnight.
"Sitting home ain't fun, especially when you're watching your
team compete," Anthony said. "Some days I'd just sleep all day
... for the hours to go away."
Now, Anthony's agony is over, but his return will be
He had struck up a friendship with Denver Broncos defensive back
Darrent Williams, who was slain in a drive-by shooting on New
Year's Day just hours after chatting with Anthony outside a
downtown Denver nightclub.
"He told me he was coming to my first game back," Anthony
recounted wistfully. "He was going to be courtside cheering me