By Jason Keidel
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Years ago I got my Ph.D in player hating on the Knicks, particularly Carmelo Anthony. But I didn’t do my studies in a vacuum.
Besides the obvious — that Anthony hasn’t sniffed the NBA Finals, much less a Larry O’Brien Trophy — Thursday night was a marvelous microcosm of his career. The Knicks lost to the Bulls, largely watching Melo shoot 13-for-34.
“The Knicks didn’t have Tyson Chandler or Kenyon Martin!” you bark. “What do you want from the Knicks?”
And the Bulls were missing Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Whom would you rather have on your team?
Anthony scored 36 points on 34 shots. On Thursday night Kevin Durant scored 31 points on 16 shots. This stat is even more staggering: Anthony touched the ball 53 times and passed it 12 times. 12. Durant passed it 39 times.
Anthony had two assists (Durant had eight) — none after the first quarter — and he passed the ball just five times in the second half and overtime.
For the season, Durant averages more assists, rebounds, blocks and steals. He also has a higher field-goal percentage (50 percent to 45 percent) and shoots 90 percent from the foul line. But Melo is the MVP, or at least right behind LeBron James. The Melo Kool-Aid is strong these days, and millions of otherwise sane men and women are hooked on it like athletic crack.
Knicks fans are incurably duplicitous and delusional. The Heat’s 27-game winning streak was marginal, but the Knicks win half as many and it’s portentous of June parades. MSG chants “MVP!” after every Melo basket when no sane human west of the Hudson would. Beating the Heat three times this season means you can beat them in the playoffs, but losing four times to the Bulls means nothing. The Knicks are an Original Six-type NBA team, swathed in tradition, yet they haven’t won a ring in four — Four! — decades.
You clamor for Anthony to win the scoring title, when most players who do don’t win the NBA title the same year. By the way, Durant has won the last three scoring titles, is a half-point behind Melo in scoring this year and also averages more blocks and steals. But somehow Durant isn’t the runner-up in MVP voting. Durant also excels in an exponentially tougher conference. Durant is better than Anthony at everything, but his fatal flaw is that he isn’t a Knick.
James is loathed for not winning the big one, but Melo is a God despite getting dusted in the first round of the playoffs in eight out of nine tries. Durant had his team in the NBA Finals last year.
The Knicks have had a superlative season, especially by their recently wretched standards. And Anthony is a wildly gifted player who could, and should, be more. If only he passed and played defense. Who knows how far he and the Knicks could go?
Maybe they wouldn’t meet their maker in Miami. But they will.
Assuming they get that far.
What are your thoughts on Keidel’s opinion of Melo? Sound off in the comments section below…