Carmelo Anthony wasted little time in getting himself acclimated upon his arrival in New York. Despite joining the team with barely two months worth of games remaining on the calendar, he gave New Yorkers reason to believe in this reunion with Brooklyn’s native son.
For once in their storied history, the Knicks could claim ownership of a thoroughbred scorer—one who paired the inside/outside touch of Bernard King with the clutch shooting of Allan Houston and the streakiness of John Starks from beyond the arc.
While it was just a brief introduction to what some are predicting to be a championship conclusion, critics felt the acquisition of Anthony actually hindered the franchise’s rebuilding process.
Whether or not trading away multiple promising young players will have a lasting adverse effect is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, for the first time since Patrick Ewing, New York undeniably has a true centerpiece around which the roster can be constructed.
With an NCAA title in his back pocket and a streak of playoff appearances dating back to his rookie season, Knicks fans hope Anthony’s winning ways translate to New York.
Although Anthony’s limited reign in the Big Apple wasn’t exactly fruitful in terms of team success, personal highlights have been plentiful. Here are his most exciting moments.
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the world I’m coming home
Knicks fans know where I’m going with this one.
You may not be into Sean Combs and his Diddy-Dirty Money “super group,” but to deny these lyrics echoing through the speakers sent chills up your spine is a flat out lie.
It was difficult to ignore MSG’s homecoming promotional campaign in the days leading up to Carmelo Anthony’s Garden debut. Frankly, I was sick of the song after 48 hours of nonstop hype.
However, it was those couple lines that represented the restless anticipation consuming the Knicks faithful as they anxiously awaited Anthony’s first appearance in a New York uniform. So, it was only fitting that Anthony’s welcoming that night was as over-the-top as MSG’s marketing scheme.
The pregame montage on the big screen was probably a tad on the dramatic side. But hey, it is New York, and Anthony coming to the Knicks is about as remarkable as Jesus Christ healing the sick in the middle of Times Square. After all, in the eyes of Knicks fans, Anthony is a savior in his own right.
Once he was able to shake off the initial jitters, Anthony showed everyone why their excitement was justified; he scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while pacing the team to victory.
More importantly, the Garden was electric again and reminiscent of the good old days.
Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are bound by a rivalry dating back to high school when Anthony’s Oak Hill Academy clashed with James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary. Both were chosen as lottery picks in the 2003 NBA Draft, and their friendly competition carried over to the pro ranks.
Thus far, Anthony’s squads have the edge in these head-to-head matchups, but when he and the Knicks traveled to Miami, they knew they’d have their hands full with the Heat.
In just his third game with the team, Anthony took on the daunting task of facing an opponent whom many predicted had a legitimate shot at winning a title by season’s end.
Having won 12 of their last 14 games, James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were finally clicking, and to say the Heat were hot would be an understatement.
This contest served as a preview of a classic feud that will undoubtedly be renewed over the next few years, and Anthony certainly rose to the occasion.
Not only did Anthony’s 29 points and nine boards outshine James’ 27 and seven, he also stepped up to James defensively. With less than nine seconds left in regulation and New York up 87-86, Anthony stood his ground and forced James to release a runner from a bad angle.
The shot was ultimately swatted by Amar’e Stoudemire, and that stop proved to be all the Knicks needed to prevail.
On a national stage, Anthony and the Knicks made it clear this team is talented, dangerous and gunning for the top dogs.
Anthony is renowned for being one of the most deadly assassins when the game is on the line; since entering the league in 2003, no player has hit more game-winning baskets than Anthony—not even Kobe Bryant.
Too many Knicks games have a tendency to be decided in the fourth quarter, so the luxury of having Anthony in their corner as the clock expires cannot be overemphasized.
As they’ve been known to do in recent years, New York allowed Memphis to chip away at a 17-point third quarter deficit that dissolved to just three. Anthony missed a jumper with the shot clock winding down, giving the ball back to Memphis with approximately 20 seconds to go.
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley slashed through the lane and dumped it off to ex-Knick Zach Randolph. The scrappy Randolph made the easy bucket and was hacked. His foul shot tied the game at 108.
The Knicks responded with, what else, an isolation play for Anthony on the left wing. As Tony Allen smothered him, Anthony caught the ball, jab-stepped, dribbled once to his left, stepped back and swished it over Allen’s outstretched hand with half-a-second remaining to give New York the 110-108 edge.
Backpedaling in the opposite direction, Anthony cockily taunted the Grizzlies bench, exclaiming, “I do this!”
Can’t argue with that.
A month after Anthony’s heroics in Memphis, he was at it again—this time on the Pacers’ home court.
It was the second consecutive game versus Indiana that went down to the wire. In their previous meeting, Pacers star forward Danny Granger sunk the Knicks with a buzzer beater of his own.
As fate would have it, Granger was again involved as the closing seconds ticked away. However, luck was not on his side that evening.
With the Knicks down by a point, Anthony received the pass on the right wing with Granger swiping at him. Relying on one of the quickest releases in the NBA, Anthony hesitated before kicking his right leg and slightly fading backwards, draining the mid-range jump shot with 4.9 seconds left.
Heading into a timeout, the Pacers trailed 110-109. A play was drawn up for Granger, who, incidentally, was guarded by Anthony.
Catching the inbounds at the top of the key, Granger drove right on Anthony, stopped on a dime and popped all in one motion. It appeared as if Granger had created enough separation, but Anthony quickly gathered himself and leaped with his left hand rising simultaneously with Granger’s shooting hand.
Anthony was able to tip the ball just enough to deflect it and salvage the victory.
This wasn’t just an exhilarating win and proof that Anthony can be a valuable defender. It solidified the Knicks’ first winning season in a decade.
Had the Knicks pulled this one out, Anthony’s feat against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the playoffs would’ve been one for the ages. Instead, it’s a distant memory.
With Chauncey Billups out for the series and Stoudemire hobbling through monitored minutes with a back injury, it was Anthony’s game to lose. Surrounded by—to put it bluntly—an embarrassing supporting cast, Anthony shifted into a gear few knew he possessed.
If you can imagine Anthony sharing the floor with four invisible teammates, he essentially challenged the Boston Celtics to a game of one-on-five—and almost single-handedly willed the Knicks to a win that might’ve turned the tide of the series in New York’s favor.
Without dwelling on the negative, a late-game mishap by one of those below-average teammates—whose name I won’t mention—cost the Knicks the chance to even the series and ruined Anthony’s stellar performance.
Anthony was immersed in every facet of the game, snatching rebounds away from Kevin Garnett, swatting shots, getting to the foul line, burying threes and even dishing to the open man.
He made any detractors, who had criticized his work ethic and hunger in the past, eat their words.
When the buzzer sounded, the Knicks had lost by three, but Anthony compiled the best all-around game of the 2011 postseason and one of the most impressive individual displays in franchise history.
The numbers say it all.
42 points (14-30 FG, 4-8 3PT, 10-11 FT)