Keidel: Mellow Over ‘Melo
New York Knicks
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By Jason Keidel
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The Knicks just dumped the core of a team we loved for it’s blue-collar grit and replaced it with red carpet glitter.
This deal was guided by vanity – acquiring Carmelo Anthony, a player whose Q rating matches the movie stars who preen from the front row. But those aren’t the folks who pay the freight. It’s all the rows behind the bench, in the dark, filled with people who actually work for a living, who need to be convinced.
Word is Isiah Thomas still has James Dolan’s ear, which tells you Dolan is tone deaf. Some delirious fans are booking their sidewalk spots along Canyon of Heroes. You’ve waited 38 years. Chances are strong you will wait another 38 at this rate.
The Denver Nuggets just gutted the Knicks in exchange for a gifted player. But let’s be clear about that player. Carmelo Anthony is not LeBron James. Not even close. This reeks of an owner who saved face to spite his nose.
The recent axiom suggests you need two stars to win titles. Jordan did it with Pippen, and Shaq did it with Kobe. Neither Amar’e Stoudemire nor Anthony is as good as any of those legends. And Stoudemire endured microfracture surgery, which means one bad twist of his brittle knee kills the Dynamic Duo.
And who will play with them? Chauncey Billups, a geriatric guard who was great for the Pistons years ago, is counting the hours to his pasture, and even hinted he’d play for Miami for the minimum. He knows the Knicks have no chance of winning a championship this year.
The remaining players the Knicks received are filler, numbers more than names to assure salary cap harmony. Renaldo Balkman has played in five games. Sheldon Williams averages 4.7 points. Anthony Carter has played 14 games and averages an alarming 1.9 points. And how does this deal pop the salary cap Donnie Walsh worked so hard to secure?
In catapulting three starters, the Knicks just surrendered 50 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists in Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Danilo Gallinari. That production must be recouped. You can’t replace firepower with star power.
“Carmelo is from Brooklyn! This is his dream job!” you shriek. First of all, Carmelo is from Baltimore. Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, too, but he’s from North Carolina.
And a sense of nostalgia or geographic loyalty is the most overrated bond in sports. Did Jordan’s Carolina roots stop him from owning Chicago? Did Stephon Marbury’s Coney Island connection help the Knicks? Last I saw he was guzzling Vasoline in some surreal YouTube video.
Remember that Carmelo’s next NBA title will be his first, and his Nuggets made out to the second-round of the playoffs just once in his seven seasons. LeBron took a 20-win team, made it a 60-win team, and now it’s back to a 20-win team. Though he has yet to win a title, he has made deep dents in the playoffs and carried one Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals.
No doubt New York loves its stars. But as Alex Rodriguez learned, our level of love is commensurate with your ability to perform in the playoffs. It wasn’t until the Yankees won in 2009 that A-Rod yanked that colossal monkey off his back.
I’m pouring acid on your dreams of Disney World and incessant trips to the White House. Sorry. It takes five (if not ten) to win a title. The Knicks now have two and a variety of variables.
Anthony asked for this. Now he’s got it, though he may not know what he’s gotten into. New York is a beast, a burden, and a rancorous town if you don’t wear the crown. Ask Patrick Ewing, who knows a few things about Carmelo Anthony’s new home, about broken promises, and about the dubious distinction of being the best Knick never to win a championship.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com