Perhaps it's those who don't consider him to be a superstar. Or maybe it's the comments, such as these from Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, saying he can't lead teams to victory. Whatever the motivation, for one night, Carmelo Anthony put the New York Knicks on his back by setting the team record for points in a game.
In fact, only 32 times in NBA history has Melo's 62-point performance been eclipsed. Better yet, such a high-scoring game is particularly unusual as of late. As CBS' Ken Berger notes, Friday night's outburst hasn't been replicated much during the last 30 years or so.
With 62, Carmelo Anthony ties Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady for the sixth-highest scoring game since the '85-'86 season.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) January 25, 2014
ESPN Stats & Info further confirmed that sentiment.
Camelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are the only active players to score 60 points in a game.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2014
That's exactly why Melo's dominant game on Friday is this NBA season's best performance thus far. Yes, Kevin Durant's 54-point game on Jan. 17 was brilliant but it wasn't quite at Melo's level.
Skeptics will point to Anthony's zero assists on Friday but as SB Nation's Charlie Osborn notes, that's not entirely his fault. Indeed, with J.R. Smith shooting at a .365 clip and Andrea Bargnani acting as the go-to scorer on Melo's off nights, would you pass the ball if you were hitting on nearly two-thirds of your 35 total shots (as Anthony did on Friday)? I'm sure wouldn't.
Besides, it's not as though Melo's teammates were looking to score themselves.
Just taking a look at Anthony's shot chart, it's easy to see why Chandler and his teammates carried that mentality.
Carmelo Anthony taken out with 62 points, record for current version of Madison Square Garden. pic.twitter.com/Z5iXTu0vE6— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2014
But Melo didn't just score on Friday night. He also pulled in 13 rebounds, on top of not turning the ball over even once. (That's in contrast to KD's four rebounds and five turnovers in his 54-point game, though the Thunder forward did have six assists.)
From @EliasSports, Carmelo Anthony's 62 points are most for player with 0 turnovers since individual turnovers have been tracked (1977-78).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2014
It seemed like everyone around the NBA was rooting for Melo as well. That held especially true with some of the game's stars, both past and present.
C'mon Mike Woodson keep @carmeloanthony in. I wanna see 70-75! Well actually I can't see cause I'm at an event but I'll see the highlights!— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 25, 2014
Guess Melo got tired of hearing about KD scoring and had to join in. He's on fire..— Tracy McGrady (@Real_T_Mac) January 25, 2014
ESPN.com's J.A. Adande also noted that Melo could be in for a repeat of Friday's performance in the Knicks' showdown with the Lakers on Sunday.
Bobcats have a top 10 defense & Carmelo scored 62 on 'em. Sunday's opponent, Lakers rank 29th in points allowed. (Game's on ABC, by the way)— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 25, 2014
After the game, Melo described why he was able to go on such an historic scoring run.
Is Carmelo Anthony's 62-point game this season's best single-game performance?
That's not to say Anthony is set to go on a torrid scoring pace but his monster performance is at least a promising turnaround after he shot just under 34 percent during his last three games.
Indeed, for just one game, Knicks fans were able to forget their season-long troubles and enjoy a career night from their team's best player. It remains to be seen whether this is a sign of things to come or just a momentary break from misery, but New York fans can at least take solace that they were able to witness this season's best single-game performance thus far.
Don't forget, Anthony even came within 10 assists of a triple-double!