Why 2012-13 Is Make It or Break It Season for Carmelo Anthony
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In theory this is the season.
There is no lockout to impact the start of it, there's a coach who seems to mesh well with his style of play, and there are two veteran point guards in place to run the offense and feed him the ball.
Yes, this is it, the year for Carmelo Anthony to finally transform himself from a great scorer to a great player and more importantly, a winner.
The NBA has not been historically kind to those players who have produced impressive stats, but have not acquired the championship rings to validate all the gaudy numbers.
When debating the merits of players such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon against players such as Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson, the one indisputable fact is that the first group of players are generally ranked above that second group.
The first four players have 16 rings between them, the second four have zero.
If Carmelo Anthony retired today he'd be in the category of players with outstanding numbers, but no rings.
That isn't necessarily his fault, nor was it explicitly the fault of those four players listed above. It is however how NBA greats are measured.
Carmelo Anthony doesn't have one, but that doesn't mean he won't ever have one, and it doesn't mean he can't win one.
It doesn't matter how many doubters the Knicks have. It doesn't matter that Phil Jackson has declared them a poorly constructed team, or that the team allowed Jeremy Lin to take his talents to Houston.
What does matter is that the Knicks team he is on this season has the potential to be very good, it could be the best all-around team Anthony has ever played on.
If you couple the talent level with the veteran presence, it gets even more appealing. The Knicks have acquired some older players, but those players have valuable experience.
Marcus Camby has played in New York before, and is an outstanding rebounder and defender.
Jason Kidd is not the MVP caliber point guard that led the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, but he's only two seasons removed from helping to lead another team with another offensive minded, ring-less star in Dirk Nowitzki to an NBA Title.
The very same defensive low-post presence that helped to push Dallas over the top in June of 2011 is now wearing a Knicks uniform. That would be the reigning NBA Defensive Player of The Year, Tyson Chandler.
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Another key issue is the coach. Anthony has made no secret of his admiration for Mike Woodson.
It would appear that Anthony all of a sudden has many of the trappings that superstars need to excel and win the league's ultimate prize.
Sure injuries are an x-factor, and of course just because the Knicks appear to be constructed to make a serious NBA Finals push, doesn't mean there aren't other teams with similar make-ups.
This is a big year for Anthony, though. Maybe a ring is an unfair barometer to hold him to, but playing a major role in leading the Knicks beyond the first round of the playoffs, a place the franchise has not found itself in since an Eastern Conference finals loss to the Indiana Pacers in 2000, would seem essential.
Let's face it. Carmelo Anthony is a 28-year-old superstar. He's a five-time all star who arrived in the league with a championship pedigree, earned by leading another New York Basketball team to a long awaited National Championship.
Anthony's biggest detractors may not like to acknowledge his NCAA, success, but what he accomplished in his one season at Syracuse was impressive. It was also another set of very advantageous circumstances with a team and coach comfortable in allowing Anthony to dominate on offense while playing exceptional team defense.
Maybe the Knicks aren't quite as perfectly constructed as that Syracuse team was back in March of 2003, but Anthony has a lot of things working in his favor this season, and if the Knicks suffer another first round playoff exit, then Anthony will absorb much of the blame.
Being an NBA Superstar is a little like being a great quarterback. You can get too much of the blame when you lose, and too much of the credit when you win. That doesn't change the reality that the upcoming season is one that can really make or break Carmelo Anthony's career as an NBA Superstar.
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