Brazilian media report uses flawed logic in criticism of Nene
Nuggets center supported by teammates, coaches and statistics
As the on-line editorial traveled more than 5,000 miles from Sao Paulo to Denver, Nuggets center Nene turned to his faith.
He opened his bible and quickly found the reassurance he was seeking.
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. – Psalm 112:7
If only UOL.com.br showed the same faith in one of Brazil’s most talented and courageous athletes.
Using a Denver Post column written nearly six months ago as its foundation, the web site came to the preposterous conclusion this week that Nene is the key to keeping Carmelo Anthony in Denver and that Nuggets fans, coaches and team owner Stan Kroenke are in favor of trading Nene.
The story couldn’t have been further from the truth.
While scoring 13 points in Denver’s convincing season-opening win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, Nene moved another step closer to joining Alex English, Byron Beck, Dan Issel and T.R. Dunn in an exclusive club. They are the only players who wore a Nuggets uniform for at least 10 years.
Nene, 28, is in his ninth season with the Nuggets and has no plans on leaving Denver anytime soon. He has found a home in Colorado, and the love from his coaches and teammates is mutual.
“Basketball usually is done as a group of guys contributing,” Nuggets coach George Karl. “I think everybody knows to be successful in the NBA, you’ve got to have some good big guys. Nene’s one of the top-10 big guys in the NBA.”
In discussing Nene’s value to the team last season, assistant coach Chad Iske emphasized the 6-foot-11, 250-pound center’s heart and determination.
“Him playing the whole year was huge,” Iske said. “He’s kind of the unsung hero, the backbone of the team, in that regard. He was there every night, and he wins his individual battle more times than not.”
That was the case again on opening night as Nene outplayed Jazz center Al Jefferson, who finished with just six points on 2-of-6 shooting. Nene made 5 of 8 shots and grabbed four rebounds in just 23 minutes.
Nene’s efficient performance came despite being poked in the left eye, which caused some swelling and double-vision less than four minutes into the game.
For some reason, Nene’s detractors like to label him as “soft.” The adjective is incongruous with a cancer survivor who holds his own while guarding the likes of Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Nene is constantly walking the line of being aggressive and staying out of foul trouble, which would lead to more time on the sideline. With big men Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin still out of the lineup while recovering from knee injuries, the most important thing for Nene and the Nuggets is staying on the court.
UOL.com doesn’t seem to grasp that logic as it criticizes a devoted member of the Brazilian national team and the most accomplished of the four Brazilians currently playing in the NBA. But Nene pays little attention to unfounded opinion, whether it comes from Brazil or Colorado.
“God, he made a promise to me,” Nene said. “I don’t worry about recognition from man.”
Karl believes Nene can be an All-Star, and the statistics support the coach in that belief.
Among NBA centers last season, none had more steals than Nene last season, and only Dwight Howard and David Lee had more combined assists, blocked shots and steals.
“I’ve been top-three among centers in steals, assists and blocks, so that answers people’s opinions,” Nene said.
Addressing the notion that he is a primary factor in Anthony’s desire to stay or leave Denver, Nene said: “That’s solely his decision. I hope that he stays, but I will respect whatever decision he makes.”
For now, Nene will simply do what he has always done, and he urges Nuggets fans to do the same.
Keep the faith.
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for Nuggets.com, 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...