Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire: Did We All Forget About Melo and Iverson?

Richard ElkindContributor IMarch 24, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29:   Allen Iverson #3 and Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets stand on the court during the game with the Los Angeles Lakers on November 29, 2007 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 127-99.  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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When the Nuggets and Knicks finally stopped torturing the NBA world, and consummated their blockbuster trade, New York rejoiced.  Finally they had a superstar tandem (or threesome depending on one's view of Billups), that would rival any team in the league. 

Indeed, despite the Knicks' recent struggles (which I must admit, as a Nuggets fan has been extremely fun to watch), level-headed fans continue to hold out hope, arguing that this trade wasn't made for short-term success, but instead for the long-term.  The argument, I believe goes, give Melo and Amar'e some time to figure each other out, add a couple role players, preach a little bit more defense, and the Knicks will be contenders for years to come. 

This argument seems to ignore the blatantly obvious.  While in Denver, the Nuggets' front office personnel were not twiddling their thumbs.  Indeed, listening to the media now, you would think Carmelo had never played with another superstar before (made even more ridiculous by the NY media's insistence that Billups makes this a big three, which seems to suggest Melo has, by implication, been playing with another star).  The blatantly obvious of course being that Carmelo Anthony has played with another superstar before, and it wasn't even that long ago.

In December of 2006, the Nuggets traded for 76ers superstar Allen Iverson.  Now, for those with extremely short memories, Allen Iverson was an absolute stud when this deal was made.  In the 2005-2006 season he averaged 33 ppg, 7 apg, and 2 spg.  When the trade was made, both Melo and Iverson were averaging over 30 points per game, and were in fact No. 1 and  No. 2 in the NBA in scoring. 

Now the first season together was difficult due to chemistry issues.  When the Nuggets traded for Iverson, Melo was beginning a 15-game suspension (incidentally, as a result of slapping (one can't reasonably call it a punch) and subsequently running from New York Knick player Mardy Collins (another fact Knicks fans seem to forget).  By the time Melo returned there simply wasn't enough time to figure it all out and the Nuggets finished in the six seed.  They lost to the Spurs in five games that year, but Nuggets fans were excited.

Unlike the Knicks, the Nuggets already had a fantastic group of role players to surround their two superstars with.  This included Steve Blake at point guard, a perfect distributor for the offense.  Marcus Camby at center, a shot blocking machine, who anchored the Nuggets defense, and interestingly was the player the Knicks targeted unsuccessfully to add. 

Kenyon Martin, another defensive presence, who along with Camby, provided a tough interior.  Off the bench the Nuggets had players like J.R. Smith, Leinas Klieza and Eduado Najera who provided three pt. shooting and defense.  Nugget fans, like Knick fans today thought, we'll be great after an entire offseason together.

What happened? Despite remaining healthy the next season, the Nuggets won 50 games, good for the eight seed in the west, and were swept by the Lakers.  The next season, having seen enough, the Nuggets traded Iverson to the Pistons for Billups, as the two superstars simply didn't work.

This year the Knicks brought in Carmelo hoping he and Amar'e, who at the time the trade were made were No. 2 and No. 3 in points per game in the NBA could make NY a contender.  Well, as has been made clear, Carmelo doesn't need another superstar.  When the Nuggets challenged the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, they got their because the team was effectively built around Carmelo.  He is a player who needs an offense and team designed for him. 

The New York Knicks need only look at Carmelo's recent past to realize the current make-up of the tandem superstar system will likely max out at around 50 wins and first round exits.  Congratulations New York, enjoy the repeated mistake.