Melo-drama

Posted on February 21, 2011

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Perhaps you’ve heard the latest NBA news from Denver, Colorado: Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks. I’m hangin’ out at home tonight, and my Twitter timeline is absolutely EXPLODING with tweets from my local “tweeps” who’ve got lots of strong feelings about this trade. Some are heartbroken and devastated. Some are furious that this trade that has been long-rumored has actually come to fruition. And some people who claimed that they wanted Carmelo out all along are starting to seem awfully nervous about what their team’s future looks like without him.

I didn’t grow up in Denver, but from what I can gather from locals and local sports talk radio, being a Denver Nuggets fan is somewhat of a tortured existence. Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs at least get the title of “Lovable Losers,” but here in Denver, their history of professional basketball mediocrity (or worse) doesn’t leave Nuggets fans feeling warm and fuzzy. The trade that brought hometown hero Chauncey Billups to Denver a few years ago injected this franchise with more hope than it had seen or felt in years, leading to a run to the NBA Western Conference Finals only to be ousted by my Lakers in a hotly contested series. (That’s right, I said my Lakers. Grew up in L.A. during the Showtime era, the real “Lake Show.”) But now Chauncey’s gone in this trade, too. Another punch to Denver’s proverbial basketball gut. And even as a Laker fan, I don’t enjoy seeing or hearing that.

If you came here today looking for a music-related post, maybe you feel like this chick, @Bite_Size_V:

You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m inclined to side with @ImJustSean and his family. It is more than just basketball.

Consider this: think about your favorite album/albums and/or artist(s) from childhood. Now imagine I take those CDs/tapes/records that you loved the most from your player of choice and tell you that if you ever want to hear that album/artist again, you have to fly 2,000 miles across the country, listen to it on a different stereo than you were accustomed to listening to it with and (obviously) in a different room than you used to listen in. Even if you had the money to pull that off, it probably would never be the same (kinda like I learned from my trip to Chuck E. Cheese the other day).

If that would cause massive heartache (and maybe even tears) in your corner of the world, then don’t hate on people whose corner of the world has been rocked by this trade.

There are literally thousands of people all over Denver who watch every Nuggets game (or nearly every game) on TV during the season, and tens of thousands more than watch a smaller percentage. Let’s say for the sake of this argument, there are 10,000 people who watch the better part of 60 Denver Nuggets games a year (approx. 3/4 of the season). 60 games times three hours (average game length with commercials), and that’s 180 hours of basketball (and all of the commercials/promotions/pop culture that comes with it) in one year. Multiply that by the 7+ seasons that Melo has been a Denver Nugget, and you’re talking well over 1,000 hours of Melo in the lives of  Denver basketball fans since 2003. And that doesn’t count playoffs (PLAYOFFS?), ESPN, or sports radio. You’re telling me it’s “just” basketball? Other than your job or family-related duties, is there anything you’ve invested 1,000 hours in over the past 7 years? Obviously, these athletes aren’t members of our families, but to a 13-year-old kid who’s had Melo in the background on his/her TV while he/she went about his/her business in his/her home for over half his/her life, perhaps we can understand why people get so emotional about it.

Because of cable television, these athletes can have a tremendous impact on their communities just by doing what they do best. In the classical music world, cable television doesn’t work in our favor, but that’s no excuse for not finding ways to become more meaningful to more members of our communities.The circus of media and publicity that surrounds professional sports is probably only a dream for us (of course it has its drawbacks, too), but that doesn’t exempt us from finding other ways to make an impact.

As I said in my original classical music New Year’s Resolution blog post in resolution #3, if we want to expand our visibility in our community, we have to have “franchise” musicians step up to the plate. Melo can be a franchise-type player just by playing basketball, but in our current economical/musical situation here in America, it’s my belief that musicians need to be more than musicians to promote their art. Musicians who are willing to be out in front (as well as behind the scenes), visible in their communities (as well as invisible) and create a level of care, concern and interest in classical music where there previously was none are going to be the ones that have the greatest impact on the future of classical music in the 21st century. Musicians that are willing to commit long-term to Denver (or any other town), come rain or come shine, good times or bad so that the relationship with the community can become meaningful in time are the musicians that should be sought after, mentored, and empowered. I’m not going to go into details right now about what I’m trying to do (some I’ll share in future blog posts and some you’ll never know about), but I will say that believe myself to be that kind of franchise musician, and that I’m trying to do my part to practice what I preach. I’m only a month or so into the process and don’t have too much to show for it yet,  but hey. You know how the saying goes: “classical music wasn’t rebuilt in a day.” But at the risk of sounding arrogant, I guarantee you this: though I’m far from perfect, if I practice what I preach in a given community for ten straight years and I, like LeBron and Melo, start to feel like “taking my talents” somewhere else, it’s my hope that whoever is employing me at the time is gonna want to consider slappin’ me with a franchise tag.

Until next Friday (probably), you stay classy Planet Earth. And whatever you do with your life, strive to be a Franchise Player at something, and do it for something bigger than yourself.

RIP the relevance of this video I made for the Colorado Children’s Chorale last year since Melo and Chauncey are gone. But here’s the good news: Chris Broussard is reporting that all of these trades the Nuggets are making are for the sole purpose of creating cap space to be able to sign me to a long-term deal.

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