Where Does Carmelo Anthony Rank Among Greatest Knicks After Setting Record?

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks directs his teammates in the second half against the Orlando Magic on January 30, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The New York Knicks defeated the Orlando Magic 113-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The New York Knicks have entertained a long line of NBA stars during the team's rich history.

But their latest superstar, Carmelo Anthony, just reached a height previously unseen by the franchise's slew of star-studded past performers:

Knicks franchise has been blessed some all-time great scorers. None did what Melo has done (20+ in 30 straight). Remarkable accomplishment.

— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 31, 2013

Anthony's performance in the Knicks' 113-97 win over the Orlando Magic wasn't his most efficient outing, with the former Syracuse star needing 17 shots to reach 20 points. But the franchise record-breaking bucket (a three with 6:10 left in the fourth quarter) highlighted one of the ways he's transformed from a premier scorer to an unstoppable offensive force.

Anthony has been credited with redefining his offensive attack with a new-found post game, but his interior offense wouldn't pack the same punch if not for his career-best 42.0 three-point percentage.

Throw in solid footwork, a rapid first step and the explosiveness to finish his drives and it's no surprise that he's entrenched himself in the scoring title race.

But as Anthony has entered the ranks of active elites, he's also forced his way into the discussion of the franchise all-time greats.

Despite having played fewer than two seasons with the franchise, he's already played his way into my top six Knicks players of all time (assuming he plays out the final year of his current contract and exercises his $23.5 million player option for the 2014-15 season).

But six is his ceiling, for now. He has the chance to further his climb up the ranks if New York can realize its potential in the postseason, but until that time, he's left looking up at five Knicks legends (and five Hall of Famers).

Coming at No. 5 on my list is the rugged power forward Dave DeBusschere.

The 6'6", 220-pound bruiser tallied 16.1 points and 11 rebounds per game for his career. He was a key contributor on both Knicks championship teams (1970 and 1973), an eight-time All-Star and made the NBA All-Defense team in each of the six seasons he was eligible (the teams were not named until 1968-69 season).

Edging him by a nose, though, was DeBusschere's teammate for the final two-plus seasons of his career, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe.

With dazzling handles and a devastating scoring punch (he averaged 18.8 points per game over his illustrious 13-year career), Monroe helped lead the club to its second championship. A four-time All-Star, he finished among the league's top 10 scorers in three different seasons.

The iconic Willis Reed captures the third spot.

Best known for his legendary appearance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals (playing with a torn thigh muscle no less), his career was so much greater than that one lasting image. He played all 10 of his NBA seasons with the Knicks, finishing with seven All-Star Game appearances and a five-year stretch with at least 20.8 points and 13.2 rebounds per game.

Slightly ahead of Reed comes one of the coolest players to ever step foot on the NBA hardwood, Walt "Clyde" Frazier.

There wasn't a stat sheet around that Frazier couldn't fill. He played in seven consecutive All-Star Games (1970-76), capturing the game's MVP award in 1975. He rounded out his 13-year career stat line with 18.9 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game

And then there was only one. With no disrespect to the aforementioned players, this couldn't have ended any other way.

Patrick Ewing played the first 15 seasons of his 17-year career with the franchise. His longevity and lack of Hall of Fame-caliber teammates make him an easy selection for the top spot. Despite his increasingly steep decline over his last four seasons in the league, he still finished with 21.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for his career.

But there was one glaring omission from Ewing's resume, one that could push Anthony above each one of this Knicks legends. Ewing never won an NBA championship, despite willing his team to 13 postseason trips and two NBA Finals appearances (1994 and 1999).

It won't be an easy task for Anthony to lead his team past the defending champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, and things won't get any easier with the Western Conference's best waiting in the finals.

It will require the kind of legendary performance Knicks fans have grown accustomed to seeing from their legendary superstars of yesteryear.

The type of performance it's getting harder to believe that Anthony isn't capable of showing.