Unlike some of the media, I am not a big fan of throwing around terms like superstar and legend loosely. Hence, it seems to me, there can only be around a half dozen superstars in a professional sports league at one time otherwise you are just diluting the meaning of the word.
The rest of the really good players in the league are merely stars. That being said, has Carmelo Anthony’s stellar play in the playoffs so far elevated him to superstar status? I don’t know, but it is close.
The top five vote getters in the MVP race were (in order—which by the way, for the second year in a row the exact order I predicted, hmm, not bad): LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, and Chris Paul.
And Paul was second in the MVP voting last year, and Howard was Defensive Player of the Year and is the best big man in the league, so those five appear to be in the category of current NBA superstars. That does not leave a lot of room.
Former MVPs Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are ailing and aging, so to simplify the discussion, I am going to leave them out. Dick Nowitzki (MVP two years ago and All NBA First Team this year, and last year finals MVP and All NBA Second Team, Paul Pierce (and self proclaimed best player in the league), should at least be considered.
Yao Ming is a superstar in China and has an impressive offensive game, but does not have the defensive presence, health, or accomplishments to be considered a superstar in the NBA. Brandon Roy was also All NBA Second Team and is a potential superstar, but he is not there yet.
The same goes for Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Deron Williams. I would not consider anyone else although there is no denying that Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose have the potential to be superstars.
Charles Barkley, over the weekend, called Carmelo Anthony the best offensive player in the game. I think this would come as a surprise to fans of Kobe, LeBron, and Wade and is a bit a stretch.
Michael Wilbon said that Anthony’s play in the playoffs has now made him the third best player in the NBA (behind Kobe and LeBron). This comment is not fair to Wade and also is a bit of a stretch.
However, there is no denying that until the second half of Saturday night’s game, he has played great in the playoffs. He scored 14 points in the first quarter Saturday night, but cooled off and finished with only 21 points and shot 1-for-7 from three-point land.
Anthony had scored over 30 points in the previous five games, averaged 35 points, 7.8 rebounds and shot 48 percent from behind the arc. He appeared to score effortlessly at times and his defensive intensity has picked up in the playoffs.
But, Anthony disappeared in the second half Saturday night and now his Nuggets trail the Lakers two games to one. If Melo wants to be considered a superstar in the NBA now is the time to step up.
I am not as generous as Barkley and Wilbon in my praise of Anthony; however, if he leads the Nuggets to an upset over the Lakers that just might do it for me. What about you?