Yeah, yeah, the Denver Nuggets won fifty games in the 2007-2008 season. But they were bounced from the playoffs in the first round, just as they had been during recent campaigns when they racked up fewer W's -- and they won't get near that victory total anytime soon unless they find a way to make up for the loss of center Marcus Camby. Number 23's ignominous departure from the squad for budgetary reasons was the focus of recent articles in the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, both of which focused on the classless manner in which the Nuggets kicked one of their biggest contributors (and best role models) out the door. As Times sports columnist Bill Dwyre stressed in "Nuggets Put a Chip on Marcus Camby's Shoulder," published on July 22, the terms of the transaction "made it look to the guy on the street as if they let him go for a Snickers bar."
Camby, a former defensive player of the year, was actually traded for the option to exchange second-round draft picks with the Los Angeles Clippers next year -- a deal that may actually be worth less than a Snickers. Worse, the Nugs kept the swap secret until the last minute, which irked Camby. "Nobody called, nobody said anything," he notes in Dwyre's piece. "The day before I was told, I was with plenty of team people who could have given me a heads-up. I found out when my agent called me."
The Globe's offering, "Trade Leaves Camby Feeling Rejected," features several more contributions from Camby, which makes sense. After all, it was penned by Marc J. Spears, who covered the Nuggets for the Denver Post. Spears left Denver in 2007 shortly after a prodigal Woody Paige was handed a sports columnist slot he'd hoped to land -- see the second item in this Message column for details -- and he wound up in a sweet spot, getting a chance to chronicle the NBA championship run of the Boston Celtics. Guess that makes up for the Globe misspelling his name as "Mark J. Spears" in the article's byline.
At any rate, Camby didn't attempt to hide his hurt from Spears. Things have been tough of late beyond basketball, he said, referencing the premature birth of his daughter Maya and a "real-life family issue" he didn't detail. "With everything I've been dealing with off the court, this is the lowest point of my life," he conceded. Moreover, he felt that the Nuggets essentially pinned the playoff failure on him by their actions. "I'm the only one they traded, so they are putting the onus and the blame on me," he argued. "I was supposedly the one with all the injuries. But I held the fort down. I played hurt, played in games I shouldn't have played in. But I held my own and this is how I'm repaid?"
Plenty of Nuggets fans are probably asking themselves this same question. -- Michael Roberts