Carmelo Anthony’s tenure as a Knick has been a whirlwind. There were the highs of the Amare/Carmelo pairing in 2011, the Jeremy Lin saga in 2012 and the 54 win season in ’13. The lows consisted of the firing of Mike D’Antoni mid-season in 2012, the embarrassing sweep by the Celtics in ’11 and, well, the last three years. Since Carmelo came over from Denver, he’s guided the Knicks to the playoffs three times and has won one playoff series. He’s had to endure three coaching changes and Monday marked his fourth head coach since February 2012. The husband of MTV star Lala won a scoring title, made five all-star games and is probably the topic of conversation for James Dolan every night at dinner when he talks about the reason Madison Square Garden’s stock price is through the roof.
All of this is true. Carmelo is a fabulous scorer and the Knicks have struggled to win without him in the lineup over the last five years. However, time and time again I find myself complaining about him, his shot selection, his demeanor on the court, his lack of leadership and most importantly — his lack of accomplishments. Yeah, he’s won a scoring title. Cool. To me it’s all about winning and Carmelo, who some call one of the best players in the league, hasn’t really had any team accomplishments in his time with the Knicks or, let’s face it, his entire time in the NBA.
Melo has made it past the first round exactly twice in his life. One time he made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals and even led the Nuggets to two victories over arguably Kobe’s best Laker team post-Shaq, but besides that and the first round victory over Boston in 2013 he’s faltered in the first round of the playoffs every year of his career. If you want to call me a Carmelo hater for this next comment and tell me I’m coming from an objective viewpoint then that’s fine – I easily could be and won’t deny my dislike for Anthony but I firmly believe the only reason Carmelo’s teams made it past the first round in 2009 and 2013 is because of the point-guards. Jason Kidd in 2013 and Chauncey Billups in 2009. Those guys ran the show in Denver and New York.
Carmelo can’t run the show. He doesn’t have the leadership that guys like Jason Kidd, Lebron James and Stephen Curry had/have. That’s what makes his salary price so frustrating – he can’t lead his team anywhere besides the golf course in June and doesn’t leave the Knicks a lot of money to get a superstar player to play alongside him. He does get a lot of media attention and the garden treats him like America treated General MacArthur when he returned from Korea but all of that’s useless if you keep falling short of a championship, or even sniffing it. And maybe being a leader isn’t in his blood – and that’s not his fault. But let’s not say that Carmelo’s one of the best players in the league. Take a look at the Knicks record right now and then get back to me. And take a look at his playoff resume and maybe you’ll want to reconsider shooting me a nasty tweet about my dislike for the one Dolan drools about.
There’s a valid argument for the lack of good teammates Anthony’s been paired up with in his career. His best teammate was a past his prime Allen Iverson and an older, yet still very efficient Chauncey Billups. He hasn’t been given the opportunity to play with any great players at the Mecca except for…well….Porzingis this year (kinda kidding but not really?) If you want to be treated like a superstar and be paid like a superstar then there comes a time when you raise your teammates’ games to a higher level and quit complaining about the talent you’ve been given. That’s what leaders do – they make other people around them better. Carmelo, as we’ve seen since 2003, is not a leader. So let’s stop treating him like one.
Something needs to be said for the amount of coaches he’s had in his time in the NBA – 7 coaches in 13 years? (3 in Denver, 4 in New York) That’s an awful lot, no? Maybe the coaches start losing their minds after Carmelo agrees to run the plays too many times (kidding!)
Listen – I’ve been very hard on Carmelo here, and my mouth doesn’t stop yapping about his shot selection when I go to games. He’s a good player, a great scorer and an all-star. But he wants to be treated like a superstar and fans want to treat him like a superstar and he’s just not. It’s a shame because the Knicks will never win with him, but can’t win without him. It’s like how men look at women and visa versa – can’t live with them can’t live without them.
At this point I guess we’re stuck with him. Melo doesn’t want to leave and what team would want that contract?! Let’s just hope and pray that whomever the new head coach is has the hootzpah to tell him to run the system and limit his isolation shots – for his sake and the Knicks’ sake.