Carmelo Anthony has not done himself any favors since being a Knick.
He was clearly jealous of Jeremy Lin when he captured the imagination of this city and the country when “Linsanity” was born in February of 2012.
I was never a fan of Mike D’Antoni and his coaching style, but Melo did him no favors when he arrived and clearly did not give max effort. There was the ESPN The Magazine article in which he said that “he isn’t just about basketball, it has to be bigger than that.” That is fine and I am glad that he is enjoying all aspects of life, but it was the wrong message to a fan base that has not witnessed an NBA Championship since 1972-’73.
Then there was the Anthony who produced video taking us into his free agency decision in the summer of 2014 when he described the Bulls as the ‘perfect fit.’ The video ironically aired on MSG, was titled ‘Carmelo: Made in New York’ and came after he signed a 5-year $124 million dollar contract with the Knicks. It detailed just how close he came to deciding to Chicago before he ultimately decided to come back to the Knicks.
Then there was last February, when Anthony decided to play in the NBA All-Star game and played 30 minutes on a bad knee after missing more than two weeks in the month of January. He shut it down after the All-Star game and had the knee surgery as the Knicks would eventually go on to win just 17 games.
So, let’s just say there have been some high’s and low’s since Anthony was acquired from Denver.
It is time to tip the cap and applaud Anthony for his start this season. He has evolved as an NBA player and is now the player I always wished he could be. One that defends, rebounds, scores and makes others around him better.
I think his evolution has a lot to do with the realization that Phil Jackson drafted an absolute stud in Kristaps Porzingis last summer in the NBA Draft with the 4th overall pick. Even though all of us, including Anthony, questions the pick and the impact year one the selection of the young Latvian has turned out to be a stroke of brilliance.
Anthony has led by example and with his words. He even fired back at Charles Barkley of TNT after Barkley questioned his leadership.
Anthony added. "Me and my teammates we have conversations, we have players-only meetings. I speak up and I’m heard."
I have certainly been critical since his arrival and described Anthony as a great scorer and not a great all-around player. I never thought he made his teammates better. ESPN analyst Jon Barry used to describe Anthony perfectly, as there are guys who play the game to win and there are guys who play to play and Anthony plays to play.
As a member of the Knicks, I think that perfectly described Anthony. He was a ball stopper who was a high volume low percentage shooter and I am a Syracuse grad. I cheered and rejoiced in New Orleans when, as a freshman, he led Syracuse to a National Championship with a victory over Kansas.
I have a picture with Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim on Bourbon Street on that Tuesday morning after the national championship was secured. Anthony helped bring me a great moment in my life, one that I will not soon forget. So, I was not being critical for the sake of being critical when doing shows on WFAN.
I did not enjoy watching that version of Carmelo Anthony playing basketball here in New York. I love watching him play the game now with a love and a passion that I have not witnessed in quite some time. He has shown leadership by leading by example and with his words. He is averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game. He has show great effort both offensively and defensively. He has been fantastic and on Thursday was elected to his 9th All-Star game.
This year, that honor has a much different tone. The Knicks are playoff relevant and Anthony has a lot to do with it. He has bought in and changed and evolved his game as an NBA player as a 31-year-old. He deserves all the accolades this season because he is playing the way a great all-around player plays. Anthony re-invented himself and the Knicks are a better team for it.