Brooklyn born Carmelo Anthony is worshipped in NY—and despite some outside criticism—within the Knicks community he can do no wrong. He’s even been anointed Mr. Clutch without having hit any Robert Horry–type playoff buckets and without ever reaching an NBA Finals. That same love has seemed to touch Melo’s brain, like an addict on drugs, because this cat sees and says things that fly over the head of us non-basketball droids.
It’s understandable though. The Knicks have gone from NBA laughing stock in the first decade of the new millennium, to a legit contender. Much of that is attributed to the arrival of Anthony, whom the Knicks acquired from Denver in the February 2011 trade that sent any decent player the Knicks had packing. GM Donnie Walsh also threw in a future first-round draft pick, two future second-round selections, and cash to complete the demolition.
To most Knicks fans it was a cool decision. NY was starting fresh with two new centerpieces, Anthony and forward Amare Stoudemire, who gobbled up another $100 mill to join the Knicks after Lebron's vicious headfake bolt to Miami in 2010.
It’s been a fun ride, but Melo’s job is not done in New York and everyone knows it.
Anthony has two years remaining on his current contract but can opt out of the final season, worth $23.3 million. If he were to extend his deal right now, he'd be leaving that money on the table. If he plays out this season and uses his opt-out in the summer of 2014, he can command five years and nearly $130 million from the Knicks.
Despite this, the six-time, all-star forward said in a recent interview that he wants to opt out of the final year of his contract. "I want to be a free agent," he told the New York Observer. "I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It's like you have an evaluation period, you know. It's like if I'm in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience."
With the Eastern Conference gaining strength, the Brooklyn Nets strapped with a legion of legends and Knicks fans starving for at least an Eastern Conference Finals trip, for Melo to start yapping about his “next” move is kind of corny, self-absorbed, and doesn’t fall in line with the M.O. of most past champions.
According to the Daily News, Melo's coach, Mike Woodson, has told him to pipe down and "get ready for the season." But Melo’s already put his free agency cat and mouse game in motion. Even if he keeps backtracking and saying that it's not something he wants to discuss, Pandora’s Box will be hovering over the Knicks all season.
See, Carmelo wants to do what Lebron does. Melo walks, talks and gets paid to play like Lebron, but his hardware game is soft. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a reflection on his skills, but it’s his reality and a conquest he needs to handle as a NY Knicks legend.
How can he ever build a legacy hoe-hopping with NBA squads? He still owes NYC, his hometown, A LOT. It’s understood that the NBA is a high-stakes business, but son has to have some integrity and devotion to this game beyond the dollar bill (the notion sounds crazy right?).
Chasing a dream like LBJ did isn’t always the move either. Anthony, who has carried a heavy load with Denver and the Knicks, would surely like to play with another legit superstar. Rumors around NBA circles say that The Lakers will put the full court press on Melo if he did opt out, but Melo is dismissing those rumors…for now.
"Does that mean I'm not coming back to New York?" Anthony added. "Not at all."
How gracious of Sir Anthony not to totally dismiss the Knicks franchise before the season started. That would be an uncomfortable 82-game farewell tour to say the least.
He's let it be known that he wants his ego stroked one last time before his body starts to disintegrate and his moment in the sun passes. Most narcissists, attention-seekers and egomaniacs get it.
"Guys would like to have that situation and just see what it's about," Anthony rationalized."It doesn't mean that just because somebody wants to be that, that they're going to leave. Me leaving never came across my mind. [Free agency is] just an experience that I thought would be an experience I'd want to experience."
Why the heck would he go on a “worship me” campaign and have teams spend resources when they have no shot at signing him? He’s either lying through his pearly-white teeth to appease Knicks fans, or he’s attempting to one-up “The Decision.”
In any event, $100 million dollars sure doesn’t get you much these days. Anthony came to NY talking tough about championships and reviving the Mecca of basketball. Sure, he’s taken NY to the playoffs each year, only to get bounced in the first-round twice. And in 2013 he won the scoring title, led the Knicks to their first playoff series win in eight seasons, and their first Atlantic Conference Championship since Patrick Ewing and Co. were playing bully ball. Now, he has to build on that.
Melo hasn’t done anything legendary yet. He hasn’t even laced up his kicks in a 2013 regular season game, but he’s already hinting at his 2014 exit strategy. He’s even compromised original Championship aspirations. “I'm not going to put pressure on myself or our guys to say that it's championship or bust," Anthony told espn.go.com at the beginning of the month. "I don't want to put a cap on what's a successful season or what's a failure season for us."
So it seems his main goal this season is getting ready for his shot on an NBA free-agent soap opera. Guess the reality show with La La wasn’t enough.
Just when you start to think this guy is turning the corner; here we go with the diva drama. Is now really the time to tell NY that you want to test free agency? Do they really want to hear about how you want to be pursued like a stripper at a night club? At least throw cats a bone and say you understand that it’s your obligation to bring NY fans an NBA championship for the first time since Sanford and Son was the No. 2 rated show on TV behind All My Children.
Carmelo’s actions have been second rate at times since arriving with the pomp and circumstance of a King returning home from years of war abroad. Everyone knew he wasn’t the king NY really wanted to begin with. Most Knick fans had forgotten what a superstar scoring machine looked like up. So Melo's show-stopping offensive game kept them at bay for a couple years. But that was good faith collateral with the understanding that Melo would complete his c'hip mission at all costs.
If he bolts on the Knicks, NY will become a Brooklyn Nets town faster than you can say “check please.” And if this is just Melo feeling himself, then now is not the time homie.