The Knicks are the hottest team in basketball right now. Indisputably, the Knicks are the most interesting team to watch in the entire league. They are experiencing something that is quite unique in the resurgence they are having under Jeremy Lin’s humble leadership. Players are playing better than they have played all year, the arena is energized and the fans finally believe they can make a championship run…
Until tonight, when Carmelo Anthony returned and our worst fears about the negative impact he would have were realized.
The Knicks' Tebow-esque 8-1 (now 8-2 after Anthony's return) run energized the entire sports world. Jeremy Lin deserves the media attention he is receiving. He is the ultimate underdog of epic proportions. I am not an avid basketball fan (being raised in DC and only having one of the league's consistently worst teams, the Washington Wizards, will have that affect on you).
In a July 2011 ESPN.com article, a panel of basketball beat writers unanimously voted Carmelo Anthony as the most overrated small forward in the NBA. In another article in 2010 both Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith both said they felt Carmelo was “coasting.”
Regardless of what the panels say and what former NBA stars say in criticism of Anthony, you cannot ignore the results and the chemistry that the Knicks have had since adding Lin and losing Anthony. It’s undeniable, according to Lin who recently said on The Michael Kay Show: “Tyson (Chandler) is an awesome leader. He's a great vet, takes care of everybody, includes everybody."
If I had to speculate about the closed-door conversations in the locker room, they probably sound like this at times: “Melo’s a good guy but I hope he doesn’t come back and we start losing again.” Again, this is pure speculation, but am I really that far off especially given Anthony’s return tonight and the Knicks' loss?
In a recent New York Post article, authors Marc Berman and Tim Bontemps wrote “Carmelo heard the people saying he is too selfish for this offense and his return could wreak havoc on the sudden chemistry with Jeremy Lin.” Is this true? Given then new leadership of Jeremy Lin and the recent winning streak, does Carmelo Anthony no longer fit with the team?
The mere fact that this bothered Anthony tells me the answer is yes. If you are focused on the team’s success and not worried about the negative press about you as an individual, then you are playing for the benefit of the team. When you are concerned or bothered by the individual criticism, then it is undeniable: You are a “one man show” who hurts the team.
February 22, 2011 is the now infamous date where the Knicks traded away the entire team to acquire one “star” player. Elliott Pohnl of Bleacher Report wrote an article titled, “Carmelo Anthony: Why He’ll Never Win a Title No Matter Where He Goes.”
Once again, I may be taking an unpopular stance when I say that the Knicks are better, much better, without Carmelo Anthony. They will continue to be mediocre at best as long as they have over-hyped attitude on the team. Basketball is a team sport, not a “me” sport. NBA all-time great Michael Jordan said it best when he said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Unfortunately for New York, Carmelo doesn’t want it, he wishes it—while the others around him make it happen.