Carmelo Anthony spent most of last season in New York catching shade for his performances with the Knicks. 'Melo put up a ton of points, as 'Melo does, but the Orange and Blue didn't look much like advancing in last year's playoffs. Left out of the top 15 in ESPN's #NBARank in the preseason, the haters have quickly stuffed shoes into those open mouths. Now, with the Knicks chillin' on top at 20-8, the real question returns: Does he belong amongst the NBA's best?
Yes. In some communities outside of his own, he would go first over LeBron, Durant and Kobe to start a pick up game. The kids dig him like that. He's like Nas to LeBron's Jay-Z. A confident scorer when he transitions from smooth to strong depending on your defensive personality and physical limitations. Everyone knows he does more than that. He'll get boards even when he isn't on the block manning the four. Melo is definitely a basketball killer. The Knicks are making everyone happy in MSG. Derek Jeter is the aging King of NY and Eli might miss the playoffs. Could Melo be that dude this year?
Fast forward to June. ECF. New York vs. the Heat. The Knicks lead the series 2-1. Yes, with home court advantage. Melo has 42 in a close game with the chance to go up 3-1 against the defending champs. Last second and down one, he puts up a 20-footer from the baseline…
What if he hits that shot? Imagine Twitter the second he hits that shot?
What if New York closes out Miami at home in Game 5 and goes on to win the Finals?
What would be your perception of Carmelo Anthony? New York winning its first ring since the days of Clyde and Pearl did it in '73 would be great for basketball, huh? To Vince's question, if Melo accomplishes this, his historical value would shoot skyward.
I ask because his elite talent is constant and has been before and since he left Baltimore. Melo shocked the world and gave Jim Boehiem his first national title – as a freshman. The Denver Nuggets were a feared squad while he was there. Maybe he had to leave Denver to evolve.. He wants what Kobe and LeBron have. He's not trying to allow Durant to get his first.
Something is inspiring the man, because Melo seems very comfortable. Red Hook is close by and his family life is locked solid in and out of MSG. Like Spencer Haywood and Iman almost 40 years before, La La and Melo are downright dignified in NY.
I think it's that time. Whatcha gonna do LeBron and brotha KD3? The season is young. Christmas Day has become a showcase the likes of an NFL Thanksgiving Day. Of course, Carmelo performed in Hollywood– he dropped 34 and seven last night. He's Hollywood as hell now, in the same great way that is New York classical. His movements on the floor are smooth, but dominant. At 6'8", 230, there is nothing he can't do. Don't take him for a punk because he will go over and through you. Remember what he did to Nigeria? He's shooting 43% from behind the arc and averaging 28 points a game this season.
The Mike Woodson effect is noticeable. Woodson lets Melo be who he is. Woodson knows Melo is his horse, and after his 33 points (19 in the 4th) helped the Knicks pull it out vs. Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and the Timberwolves at home recently, he proudly confirmed it and lobbied for his star as well: “That was an M.V.P. performance at the end,” Woodson said. “We needed it desperately.” He's right. Carmelo Anthony is the MVP right now, and by adding a championship-winning lead guard to the mix and New York might have robbed the league.
Much of this is due to Jason Kidd. Melo was shocked when the Knicks acquired the triple-double decorated PG. He also called Kidd the best teammate he's ever had. That says a lot because he's played with Chauncey Billups. Before the season, Melo offered this to Newsday: "He's a point guard that can bring the ball up court and get everybody involved. I don't have to do too much ball handling. Right now, my mind-set is to start working off the ball a lot, especially with this team. This will help me to prepare for next season."
Brooklyn on everyone's lips has to inspire Melo. Playing well gives the New York media reason to feel secure that New York will be a very good team throughout the season and Brooklyn, with all the buzz, is a nothing more than a contender in wait.
Melo is the Ice Man with a little Mark Aguirre mixed in. George Gervin was 6'7" and scored from everywhere in the jazziest of ways. Aguirre was a man amongst scoring men.
New York is 20-8 and doing so without Amar'e Stoudemire. When Melo plays the four with two point guards on the floor, NY makes defenses work. The veteran bench is pretty deep and has an invigorated Rasheed Wallace. Madison Square Garden is banking on Melo to lead Manhattan back to where Manhattan thinks it rightfully belongs. Of course, this is New York and things can potentially fall apart very quickly. But, right now? Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will be watched very closely. How this season goes, depends on just how much ice is in Melo's man.