Over the years, readers have grown accustomed to Denver Post sports columnist Woody Paige making no sense. At times, in fact, it's one of his charms. But the Wood Man's July 13 column was baffling even by his standards -- suggesting, as it did, that the first move the Denver Nuggets need to make is resurrecting Dan Issel.
Really? And that will help how?
Paige only partly explains his logic in "Issel Deserves Reprieve," which he sets up in typically strained fashion. After quoting the Katrina and the Waves tune "Walking on Sunshine," which he probably saw as a contemporary pop-culture reference (the song made the charts in 1985), he points out, accurately, that the Nuggets have not exactly improved by leaps and bounds during the off-season. Although they added Sonny Weems and secured Anthony Carter's services for another year, they lost Eduardo Najera, one of the few Denver ballers to consistently play aggressive defense.
An aside: Around here, we joke about the Best of Denver curse, which strikes many of those we honor in our annual issue of the same name. When we named Najera Best Nugget in the 2008 edition, we should have known something like this would happen...
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During this first section, capped by his observation that the Nuggets have had "no serious trades, no first-round draft choice, no major free-agent signings, no players to buzz about in the summer league, no good news on the home front," Paige is on solid journalistic ground. From there, however, he shiffts (or, more appropriately, grinds) gears in order to salute Issel, an NBA Hall of Famer who went on to coach the Nuggets after his playing days here were done. Issel became persona non grata after a December 2001 incident that found him yelling, "Go drink another beer, you Mexican piece of shit" at a critical Hispanic ticket-holder. But Paige feels he's wandered the wilderness long enough and should be embraced anew by his longtime squad. He adds that Issel and Scott Hastings would make "a remarkable team on the Nuggets' telecasts."
Doubt it. Issel and Hastings are both color commentators, not broadcast anchors like Jerry Schemmel, who's done a fine job calling Nuggets games through thick and (more often) thin. Of course, Paige also suggests that Issel might be recruited as a part-time coach for underachieving, oft-injured big man Nene -- a notion that boasts a certain logic. Still, nothing Issel could do short of magically returning to his mid-twenties form and suiting up again can improve the Nuggets any more than Anthony Carter or Sonny Weems will.
By implying otherwise, Paige takes another one of his trademark trips to Loopy Land. Which is a nice place to visit but a problem for people, like Woody, who spend way too much time there. -- Michael Roberts