It seems like just yesterday when Carmelo held the Denver Nuggets hostage; he wanted to be traded to the New York Knicks and the Knicks wanted him. We all know what ensued. New York traded nearly half its players to the Denver Nuggets. Carmelo got what he wanted.
New York can be too much for even the biggest stars. There is a reason why the Madison Square Garden is known as the Mecca of Basketball. The attention and pressure put on by the New York media and fans can be overwhelming.
Carmelo wasn’t scared. He wanted the spotlight and faced the challenge with fellow star Amare Stoudemire. The New York Knicks had become his team.
It has now been two years since the trade and things have not gone their way for either New York or Carmelo. New York fans chanted championship when they traded for Carmelo Anthony. However, the Knicks have won only one playoff game since the trade.
In 2010-2011 season, Melo’s first season as a Knickerbocker, the team finished the season with a 42-40 record. They made the playoffs only to be swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round. Fans made legitimate excuses; they said that the team disappointed because he wasn’t with the team for a full season (he was traded in the middle of the season). People said that as long as he had a full season with the team, the Knicks would be a championship contender.
In 2011-2012 lockout shortened season, the Knicks finished with a 36-30 record. If it weren’t for the rise of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks would have missed the playoffs entirely. Disappointment continued in the playoffs as the knicks lost 4-1 in the first round to Miami. The fans made excuses again. They said the team was affected by the lockout. If it weren’t for the shortened season, back-to-back schedules, and the injury bug, the Knicks would have been a good team.
Other fans begin to lose patience and the “haters” begin to ostentatiously celebrate the failure of the Knicks. They had concrete results to point to; Knick’s failure to even make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Most of the blame fell on Carmelo Anthony, as it should. He asked to be the center of attention in New York. He was the franchise player. Critics called him a selfish player. A lazy player who didn’t play defense. A team cancer.
Some are even saying he isn’t a NBA superstar.
While some of the concerns such as lazy defense and bad conditioning are relevant concerns, it is ridiculous to say that Carmelo Anthony is not a superstar. As mentioned above, it is fair to criticize Carmelo for the lack of success in New York. However, it is totally unfair to discount him as an individual basketball player.
Carmelo is the most polished offensive player in the league right now. Kobe has lost a step. Durant is very close (I think Durant is a more efficient scorer but Melo is more skilled). Bottom line, he is able to put the basketball in the basket. When the team needs a point, Melo can deliver.
Most importantly, Carmelo sells tickets. People come to watch Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. In my opinion, a super star is someone who you would pay money to watch. For example, if Miami was playing the Bobcats (the worst team in the league last season), people would go see the game because they want to see Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. Everyone agrees that those two players are superstars. On the other hand, if the Bobcats were playing against the Milwaukee Bucks (another team with a bad record), those same people would rather stay home. People go to see Knicks games when the Knicks are in town in order to see Carmelo. He is a superstar.
A superstar should also lead his team to a winning record and playoffs. Carmelo Anthony lead his teams to the playoffs 8 out of the 9 seasons he was in the NBA. In addition, he lead his teams to a winning record every year.
Carmelo has been scrutinized for the past couple years. Some of the criticism are more than fair while others are absurd. Melo has been with the Knicks for two seasons (one and a half a shortened season to be correct). Let’s not be too hasty to discount Melo and the Knicks.
I believe Carmelo will once again put the Knicks into the playoffs. Additionally, I think the Knicks will surprise quite a lot of people this season. Carmelo will be going into the season after competing in the Olympics, where he all of a sudden elevates his game to another level. Last time Melo played after playing in the Olympics, he lead his team to the Western Conference Final. Moreover, the recent emergence of the neighborhood rival, Brooklyn Nets, will certainly motivate him. After all, he wouldn’t want to lose New York to the revamped Nets.