By Jason Keidel
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It’s no secret that Carmelo Anthony fans will find no comfort food in this column. Peter Vecsey and yours truly were about the only local writers who abhorred the trade that brought him here, and the extension that kept him here.
And while it stinks that Knicks fans still suffer, and that you are stung by the recent draft selection of Kristaps Porzingis, it’s somewhat comforting that one Knick — Anthony — is reportedly wounded by the pick.
I say with a slightly overt sense of pride that one fact about the man is now and forever indisputable. Anthony was never about winning.
He could have played for Chicago, Dallas or Houston — had his mail forwarded to May or even June — but instead took the worst possible team with the most possible money. No one questions his right to make that business decision. But Melo’s business was getting Melo cash and cachet, never championships.
Now, because of his age and wage, he cannot be traded, and hangs like a gold-plated anchor around the Knicks’ salary cap.
It’s somewhat understandable why less mature or informed fans bought into the Melo machine. He is so singularly gifted at putting the ball in the bucket that you assumed he could simply score his way to the NBA Finals. But anyone with a slight sense of history had to know that the NBA, even at its pick-and-roll, watch-the-star-score redundant worst, is still a team game. And Melo has never been a team guy.
So it’s quite confounding that the man who made his bones building champions, Phil Jackson, gave an aging, decaying, me-first gunner a max contract. If Jackson is being lauded for not succumbing to public pressure by picking Porzingis, then why cave when considering Melo’s future on Broadway?
There is nothing in Melo’s past or present to suggest he had the hardwood hardihood to lead a team to a title. At its best, basketball is a selfless game, and Melo is a selfish player. Despite his epic skill set and his swollen scoring numbers, his assist totals have always been microscopic, as is the sense that he makes teams or teammates exponentially better.
There are not too many Tim Duncans out there, stars whose stripes are more muted, who literally pay for better teams to win by taking less than market value. Kobe Bryant gutted the Lakers by signing a swollen deal, which usurped the bulk of their salary cap. But at least he had five rings and a laminated legacy before going Floyd Mayweather.
Anthony was about business first, foremost and forever. And he has no right to question the Knicks now that they’re doing what they’ve always done: make bad business decisions. In fact, it fits perfectly with Anthony’s NBA karma — get paid and worry about winning later … much later.
To quote Keyser Soze, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
Anthony isn’t the Devil, of course, but the principle applies. He never was the player or person you thought he was, which is part of his talent for deception. He accepts passes but doesn’t pass. He plays robust offense but is allergic to defense. He gets paid then begrudges other players (see: Jeremy Lin) for doing the same.
If you don’t see Anthony for what he is, then your NBA senses are senseless. But one thing you can now never say is that you haven’t been told.
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonKeidel.