Keidel: Little Anthony’s Imperials And The Knicks’ Blame Game

By Jason Keidel
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Despite their varied personas, there’s a thematic thread weaving through all superstars.

When the Lakers lose, it’s on Kobe. When Miami loses, it’s on LeBron. Likewise with Dirk in Dallas. With stud fees come commensurate expectations.

Except with Carmelo Anthony, who is never blamed for anything south of .500. When the Knicks lose, it’s the team, the time, or the coach. Mike D’Antoni was the voodoo doll du jour for all who couldn’t buy what the Knicks were selling: poor play by well paid players. And now that D’Antoni is gone, who will be the next victim of the vacuum called Carmelo Anthony (whose next NBA title will be his first)?

Evidently, nine years and no rings for Mr. Anthony mean little to New Yorkers, who don’t apply the same stratospheric standards to the Knicks (and Carmelo) that they do to the Yankees and Giants. Maybe there’s too much MSG in MSG, a sporting or spiritual food poisoning. Between the Rangers, Red Storm, and “Your New York Knicks!” we’re looking at an odd wasteland in Gotham’s vortex.

“Mike D’Antoni’s resignation is the best thing to happen to the Knicks since Isiah was canned,” says my boy Frankie C. (from the Bronx, he hastens to add). “We have Carmelo Anthony. He’s our guy.”

Frankie, like us, is a sports junkie. But his view is skewed by Carmelo Kool-Aid. I have yet to identify the ingredients, but the drink is strong and the intoxication seems permanent.

None of us can say with great assurance that D’Antoni is a great or poor coach. We do know he won a whole lot of games in Phoenix. Yes, Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion can make any coach look more adept than they really are, but wins are wins and there was much basketball fruit sprouting from the Arizona desert.

Like many of you, I seriously doubt that D’Antoni wanted Carmelo Anthony on the Knickerbockers. We won’t ever know for sure, because the coach will want to coach again, and throwing his employer under the team bus is hardly a hardy audition for his next gig.

It says here, in Spike Lee’s vernacular, that the Carmelo acquisition was a “Jim Dolan Joint,” a quintessential consolation prize for losing LeBron. D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh forced a brave corporate face over the deal, claiming the idea to trade much of their core for Carmelo was theirs. Sure.

Let’s be candid: as long as James Dolan runs the Knicks they will run deeper in to debt, dementia and destruction. Since the team became entirely his – meaning no more Patrick Ewing – Dolan has hired Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens, and has displayed a supreme talent for making legends look like fools. (Thomas was uniquely incompetent, but the buck stops with ownership.)

Funny how it’s a player’s league until your beloved baller fizzles. As unlikeable as Kobe Bryant is, you never question his dedication to his craft or the final score. And though LeBron James hasn’t won a championship, he took a rancid Cavaliers club to the NBA Finals, and few doubt that he will bag an O’Brien Trophy with the Heat. Dirk Nowitzki heard all the doubts, gulped them, and spat out a championship. It’s what great players do. In five or so years we’ll be saying the same of Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose.

Forgive the comic book cliché, but with great power comes great responsibility. So far, Carmelo Anthony has shown neither – the only All-Star starter who wasn’t on a winning squad. Now that the fall guy is gone, the New York Knicks are his. Any excuses are yours, and his, with an increasingly hollow ring – as we approach 40 years since the last ring.

Feel free to email me:

Has Melo worn out his welcome in New York? Be heard in the comments below…

  • JK

    Your monologue was wide and weird, Angelo. Perhaps you can describe these Lin “bandwagon jumpers” to me because I never pretended Jeremy Lin was the Messiah. In fact, I waited longer than everyone before commenting on Linsanity because the hype was so exaggerated.

    My point was, and still is, that Carmelo Anthony won’t lead the Knicks to an NBA title. Once the Knicks get smoked in the playoffs – assuming they even make it to the playoffs – Carmelo will have 9 years in the league with no rings. He hasn’t even made it to the finals.

    Denver has a better record than the Knicks now and since the trade. Ball hogs generally don’t win championships because they don’t make their teammates better. And the next time Carmelo plays some defense will be his first.

    Very good scorer? Absolutely. Overrated overall? Absolutely. The only NBA All-Star Game starter whose team was under .500.

    • jordan

      no player leads a team to victory, that is until they do.
      Dirk couldn’t do it, then he did. i am sure LeBron will, too.
      to say Melo cannot (win) based on look back is educated projection, but not fact.
      Melo has played on a champion in the past (SYR) and can play on one again.
      That is, only if he delivers more than offense to his game.

      • JK

        Syracuse is irrelevant vis-a-vis his NBA career, for many reasons. The disparity in talent is so pronounced college that a highly skilled player can carry a team for six games, as Carmelo did.

        Dirk took Dallas to the NBA Finals a few years before he finally won. And LeBron took an awful, 20-win Cleveland team to the finals. Carmelo hasn’t sniffed the last round, unless you consider losing in his lone trip to the conference finals an accomplishment. I don’t.

        If this were Carmelo’s second or third year, I’d be less cynical. But this will make nine years – unless you actually think the Knicks have a chance this season – without a ring. It’s not a coincidence. He’s not a leader. Great scorer, but not a champion. It’s an important distinction.

        Even you say he needs to bring more than offense. What else does he have? He’s allergic to defense, and his next big assist will be his first.

  • Angelo Ramos

    OMG! Lin is a average player period.Melo has lit people up for 50 plus a night many times in the last 8 years.And Amare is a proven superstar for 30 plus a night.What in the world are u Lin bandwagon jumpers smoking out there anyway?lol He has been exposed by the real points in the league,a turnover machine that cant go Look he’s a decent young player that given time might improve on those weaknesses but time is a factor.The playoffs are around the corner and we dont have the luxury for experiments.Right on for the new coach,he’s 100% right.Time to go with the proven allstars end of story. And u guys at the Fan should know better than to listen to bandwagon jumpers in the 1st

  • JK

    Precisely. And even the stats are limited. Check his assists. You need a microscope to find them.

  • skibun

    Melo is a selfish ball hog. Unfortunately basketball is a team sport. Jeremey Lin proved how great the Knicks are a s team playing together, and not hogging the ball.

    • Nash Rambler

      here here skibun!!!!

      • JK

        Amen, guys. Thank you. Perhaps you can help me explain this to the masses who gulp the Carmelo Kool-Aid.

        They’ve invested so much in him that it burns whatever synapses that normally lead to logical analysis. They even point to Syracuse and the Olympics as proof that he wins titles. Are you serious? Why not mention some pickup game in 8th grade?

        Again, Denver is doing just fine without him – and saved $100 million in the process. And you’ll also note nearly every Knick gets worse when Carmelo is on the team. They go 9-1 or so without him, the team and town are euphoric, then ‘Melo melts all the momentum they built. It’s hardly a coincidence.

        Thanks again for reading and responding.

        • Nash Rambler

          The explanation is easy. Melo should add to his name “lark lemon”. Then he could go on the road with the Globe Trotters…that’s where Melo’s “style” of basketball belongs.

          • JK

            But please explain the blind devotion. Why do otherwise logical men lose their minds over Carmelo? It’s not like he’s a local icon. Despite all this “Prodigal Son” crap, he was raised in Baltimore.

            He did nothing with the Nuggets, and has done less with the Knicks. Yet the Kool-Aid persists…

  • W. Greene

    Melo needs to be a Leader amd make others around him better.

    For a brief period Lin did that. . .

    • JK

      Agreed. But there’s nothing in his history to suggest he will suddenly change his game and make the Knicks better. He’s a scorer first, second, and third.

      Thanks for reading and responding.

  • liu68leo

    Good luck Knicks with the new coach. LOL..

    • JK

      Exactly. I love how it’s D’Antoni’s fault that Carmelo made almost every other Knick worse, whereas Lin made them better.

  • Nash Rambler

    Melo…great titles….

    • JK

      Indeed, Nash. But, as Don Shula said, the most important stat is that scoreboard. In that department, Carmelo’s numbers ain’t so hot.

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