Carmelo Anthony vs. LeBron James: Who Leads His Trio to Title First?
When Carmelo Anthony celebrated his new marriage on July 11, Chris Paul and Amar'e Stoudemire toasted to the three running the floor together in Madison Square Garden as the next power trio in the NBA.
A month later, all signs are pointing at a divorce between Anthony and the Denver Nuggets through a sign-and-trade before the deadline next season or by 'Melo walking away from the team that drafted him third overall out of Syracuse in 2003.
After Anthony got a glimpse of the power shift LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh executed in the free-agent bonanza this summer, there's no doubt to be an encore with Anthony and Paul likely joining Stoudemire in New York with the Knicks.
If the second power trio in 12 months hooks up in The Big Apple, James and Anthony's rivalry moves to a new level. Here are 10 reasons why either guy will lead his threesome to a title first.
No. 10 ('Melo): He Knows What Winning a Title Feels Like
As a freshman at Syracuse, 'Melo led the Orange on the nation's biggest stage against Kirk Hinrich and a talented Kansas team to win legendary coach Jim Boeheim his first NCAA title.
He dropped 33 points in the first Final Four game and finished the season averaging 33 points and 10 boards.
Up to this point, that national title is more significant winning than LeBron James has experienced at any level.
No. 9 (LeBron): He's Got a Headstart
If LeBron leads the Heat to a title in the spring of 2011 before Anthony even laces them up in New York, that doesn't count.
But what will matter is that The King and his men will have a year of playing together before Anthony's bunch ever gets going.
And with the amount of talent on both rosters, one would think that one of the two trios would hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy in 2012.
No. 8 ('Melo): Karma is Not on James' Side
James' national TV shun of the Cleveland Cavaliers will live in infamy. And you know what they say about karma.
If Anthony learned anything from the free-agent saga of 2010, it's that embarrassing an entire city and franchise in prime time isn't a good idea.
No. 7 (LeBron): The Motivation
Not that Anthony isn't motivated to win, but James is taking mental notes of everyone who is taking shots at him. While that might be a bit of a joke, there's no doubt the list of haters is a long one and he wants to prove his "Decision" was the best one.
The only way to do that is by bringing home at least one title and doing it as quickly as possible.
No. 6 ('Melo): Hype Would Never be as Big
Whether Anthony and his boys would ever admit it, James and the Heat would always be the top target—even with Anthony playing in the mecca of professional basketball, Madison Square Garden.
The pressure and expectations to win would be the greatest down in South Beach because of the overwhelming talent and the fact that it was the first group assembled.
No. 5 (LeBron): Pat Riley's a Genius
Just about everything Pat Riley has touched has turned into gold during his time in the NBA.
He gave Miami its first NBA crown back in 2006 with Dywane Wade and Shaq owning the league. He's also third all-time in coaching wins in NBA history.
All in all, Riley has been a part of seven NBA titles, so the decisions he made during the past few months can be trusted to deliver another championship.
No. 4 ('Melo): D'Antoni Knows How to Handle Egos
The Heat's Erik Spoelstra has been talked up by Pat Riley, but Spoelstra's entering uncharted territory.
It usually takes an experienced NBA coach with plenty of savvy to handle the abnormally large egos Miami will have in its locker room. And it doesn't have one.
In New York, Anthony has Mike D'Antoni running the show.
While his postseason success hasn't been great, he at least worked with Anthony, Stoudemire and Chris Paul on the 2008 Olympic team. He's been around the big ego guys and knows what to expect.
No. 3 ('Melo): He's Got Chris Paul
It's no surprise that a player's game is elevated when he has one of the best point guards in the league passing him the ball. With Chris Paul, that's what Anthony would have.
Everyone has seen Anthony's game continue to improve when the Nuggets added Chauncey Billups. Even as an aging point, Billups helped get Anthony the necessary touches and took some of the pressure off the power forward.
No. 2 (LeBron): One-on-One, He Wins
When people talk about who the best player in the NBA is, that discussion includes Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Anthony is on the outside looking in. That's because James is the better player.
Looking at career numbers, James has averaged 27.8 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds a game. Anthony has put up 24.7 points, 6.2 boards, and 3.1 assists.
It's obvious that James is more versatile with his ability to score, rebound and handle the ball as a point guard who looks more like a linebacker.
No. 1 (LeBron): Miami's Trio is Better
In the end, James' three-headed monster is better than Anthony's.
All of the guys do many different things, but Dwyane Wade is in the discussion of top five players in the league along with James. Anthony would be the only name on the Knicks who could sniff the top five.
Stoudemire is better than Chris Bosh and Chris Paul is one of the best point guards, but the firepower between James and D-Wade is too heavy.