Melo's first dunk highlights this week's Ask A-Lo mailbag

Greetings and salutations, Mailbag readers. It was a pretty crazy week for the Nuggets as they bounced back from two tough losses in the Midwest by rallying for a big victory over the previously undefeated Los Angeles Lakers. Denver’s playoff potential and Carmelo Anthony's first dunk are among this week’s questions, so let’s get to the answers.


Why are the Nuggets only offering Melo a 3-year deal?
- Jon, Las Vegas


Nothing like a question that gets right to the point. With all the speculation regarding Carmelo Anthony, it’s a question that I receive quite a bit and one that deserves to be addressed.

The Nuggets reportedly have offered Melo a three-year, $65 contract extension, which is the longest and most lucrative they can do under the rules of the current NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The CBA prevents Anthony’s current contract and potential extension from exceeding five years.

This season would be considered Year 1, and he's still under contract for 2011-12, so we’ll call that Year 2. The reported extension would cover Years 3-5. The Nuggets repeatedly have said they want Anthony to stay in Denver, and they’re doing everything possible to make that happen under the league rules.

Hi, A-Lo:

My question is for Carmelo Anthony. Does he remember the first time that he dunked a basketball? How old was he and does he remember the feeling?
- Patrick, Pueblo


Speaking as a vertically challenged dude who is well removed from my years of dunking a tennis ball, I'm envious of those blessed with the ability to turn dunks into an art form.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a basketball player who doesn't remember his or her first dunk, and Melo was no different. A wide smile immediately appeared and he recalled the details without hesitation when I posed the question to him last week in the Nuggets players lounge. Here's what he had to say:

“I was 15. Summer going into my junior year. I’d been trying that whole year to get it done and I just couldn’t. I was about 6-3. We were playing a summer league game in Baltimore. I got a steal and a fast-break and threw down a one-handed dunk. I’d been trying so long, and then I finally got that one. I was on my way after that. I was laughing and smiling.”


How far do you see the Nuggets going in this years playoffs?
- Lenard, New Orleans


That’s a question with many possible answers, so I'll do my best with what we know right now.

I certainly believe the Nuggets are capable of making their eighth straight playoff appearance. They have a Hall of Fame-worthy coach in George Karl, two All-Stars in Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, and great complementary players in Nene, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith. The depth continues with contributors Shelden Williams, Gary Forbes and Melvin Ely – and we haven’t even mentioned Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin, who are recovering from knee injuries.

With all the speculation that has surrounded Melo, there’s a negative national perception of what the Nuggets are and what they can be, but Karl repeatedly points out that it’s a pretty good team. I’m not going to doubt someone who is approaching 1,000 career victories.

Also consider Josh and Stan Kroenke have proven they will do what it takes to win a championship. A couple writers recently referred to Stan Kroenke as frugal, but I respectfully disagree. According to reported figures, the Nuggets have had one of the highest payrolls in basketball for several years. The Kroenkes want to be smart in their spending, so they’re looking to build championships rather than buy them. Rest assured, Josh and executive VP of basketball operations Masai Ujiri are constantly looking at ways to improve the team.

As currently constructed, I think Denver is better than the team that gave the Lakers fits in the 2009 Western Conference finals. As we saw last week in a win against the Lakers, the Nuggets are capable of big things when they play with effort and focus.

Health, as always, will be a key factor, and the Nuggets will have to show they can win on the road to compete in a very difficult Western Conference. Ask me your question again in March, and I’ll probably have a better answer.

Random aside, good luck to the Colorado Rapids in the MLS championship game this weekend ...


What’s up with the technicals being called for back-sassing the refs? The refs can’t handle it? Is it just the players, or can coaches be called for back-sassing too?
- Holly, Aurora


In an effort to reduce complaining, the NBA is cracking down on players and coaches who blatantly disrespect the officials. Any "overt gesture" such as slapping your hands or punching the air in reaction to a call will guarantee a technical. Players and coaches also will get T'd up for excessively arguing a call.

I don't think it's a matter of the refs not being able to handle it as much as it is the NBA wanting to put some respect back into the game. The league is offering further “incentive” by doubling the fines for all technical fouls. As for fans, you can still heckle the officials. Just don’t go overboard; if you’re funny and creative, you might even see them smile.

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Don’t forget to watch the Nuggets this week on Altitude and check for game recaps, videos and feature stories. You can also follow me on Twitter @Lopez_Nuggets.

Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...

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