What a difference a week makes. Throughout the first half of this NBA campaign Knicks fans have been writing their Carmelo Anthony soliloquies and treating the season like it was Melo’s retirement parade. He kicked things off in October by announcing his eagerness to be courted as a free agent in the offseason. It was probably the most revealing preseason quotes a reporter ever landed from one of the game’s lightening-rod performers. Over time, Melo cleaned that up and Knick fans chose to turn the other cheek. The short memory cycle of today’s rapid –fire media helped fans bury that buckshot deep in their frustrated minds.
See, the Knicks fan has been broken like a young street walker trapped in the clutches of a ruthless pimp. Their spirits and title hopes have been replaced by an apathetic attitude towards getting smacked in the mouth by opponents regularly.
If you think Melo and his wife La La don’t know the value of twitter, facebook and the 24-hour news cycle, then you’re bugging. It can be a destructive force and slowly chip away at the sanity, confidence and assertiveness of a player. When finessed correctly, however, deceiving pictures can be painted through the social media bible to spare athletes from the critical judgment of fans.
As a Knicks fan I think I’m qualified to speak on the psychological state of die hard NY b-ball worshippers. We’ve been so dysfunctional and forced into submitting to organizational mediocrity and ineptitude for so long that we create our own happiness within the cesspool that is the NY Knicks franchise.
A few days ago, La La decided to ride the wave of Melo’s recent social upgrade by throwing Knicks fans a bone as big as that potential free-agent contract Melo is up for. He is under contract through 2014-15 but can opt out after this season. As a matter of fact, she threw the whole steak.
"I definitely think he will stay," La La Anthony said in an interview with Bravo TV's "Watch What Happens Live." "I know that he wants to stay, and I support him wherever he wants to go…I just want him to be happy."
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks can offer him a maximum contract of $129 million over five years. Other suitors can offer Anthony a maximum of $96 million over four years.
La La tried to clean up her outburst, but her surprising proclamation was already out the bag and flooding social media.
"I get blamed for everything. No matter what happens, it's my fault," she said. "[There are] all these talks if he's staying in New York or not, [and] I'm somehow the mastermind behind if he stays or not."
Sure, her statement is newsworthy and she knew it when she opened her mouth, but the streets are also talking. Nobody in the barbershops, sneaker stores and local music spots is moved by her prophecy. In fact, media heads are politely exaggerating La La's props out of respect for the traditional influence a wife has on a husband’s life. La La can barely keep Melo out the sidepiece-paint, so I doubt she has the influence people are suggesting.
La La might have an inside track on Anthony Family info and be a contributor to the decision-making process, but Melo will be the one to decide if he stays with New York or goes to LA to play with Kobe or Chicago to play with a healed D Rose.
Of course Knicks fans want La La’s words to be true, but I look at them as nothing more than buying time. She’s playing her position, posturing and pom pom waving. I don’t think she knows what her husband is going to do. And if she does, she’s definitely not going to put it out there with Melo already committed to immersing himself in the free agent process.
She knew now was the time to strengthen Melo’s return to the good graces of a leery fan base by providing hope that he will be raining jumpers for NY in 2015. See, if Knicks fans believe Melo will be back, then naturally they’ll give him an easier go of things regardless of how the season shakes out. Ruffling his feathers before he goes on the market wouldn’t be a wise move for NY fans and media.
More importantly, the fans are most vulnerable right now and are craving for positive signs concerning this Knicks franchise. La La’s helping in Melo’s image control. Painting him as the Knicks savior for the second time seems like a good way to get the money, power and respect.
The same way in which Melo catches flack for being a great player but not lifting the Knicks to greater heights, his worth is also overrated by fans who feel like he’s the one shining light on a dark, drowning Knicks team. If you have a closet full of sneakers and only one crisp, white pair, you would burn every sneaker in that closet to save the one pair you can floss with your finest outfit. That’s basically what Knicks CEO James Dolan did when he gave up a No. 1 and the core of the team for Melo in 2011.
That’s what Melo means to the Knicks at this point. And La La’s comments pretty much stopped being a story when Melo didn’t confirm them. He stood in front of his locker, dealing with a topic that’s as serious to Knicks fans as healthcare in America and laughed it off and joked about it with the same clownish demeanor he exhibited when fielding questions about free agency early in the season. He even had time to throw in a shameless plug for the Mrs.
Melo’s response was something to the effect of: “that’s my wife. You should listen to her…and buy her book.”
If Melo does bounce, at the end of the day La La threw herself under the bus to spare him which is what a faithful spouse does. To her, it’s probably a no-brainer being that $30 million to live in LA is a lot to give up. If she’s as smart as she seems then she knows that with the extra $30 mill she can fly to LA every other day if she likes and continue her lukewarm entertainment career.
I guess now that the season is looking so bleak for NY, Melo and La La will begin setting up their escape plan. Somebody must have advised Melo to refrain from mentioning free agency with the look of a child awaiting Christmas morning if he wants to make it out of the city alive.
No matter what happens this season, I won’t feel comfortable about Melo staying because as ESPN’s Stephen A Smith has said time and again, “I don’t have confidence in anybody wanting to play for an organization who conducts themselves like the Knicks.”
Therein lays the Knicks fans biggest dilemma. They struggled with it during LeBron James' free agency; trying to convince themselves that the bright lights of Broadway still meant something to the game’s biggest stars.
So as much as Knicks fans needed to hear La La say that – and we appreciate her for it – the reality of the situation is that we could be witnessing the Brooklyn-born scoring machine’s last season in a Knicks uniform. That’s life in the NBA fast lane, it moves like a blur. Melo has endured a bid in the NYC ringer and he appears ready to ride out at the end of this season. La La says otherwise. However, if he does stay, Knicks fans understand that it has nothing to do with his love for an organization that in a beef-heavy league traditionally sends its superstars to dinner with a vegetarian meal of players. It’ll be why every player wants to come to the Knicks; To get paid.