Criticism always runs rampant in New York. Star players are blamed when their respective team loses. Coaches are fired. And most importantly, the fans want answers. However, one New York superstar athlete always seems to deflect criticism and he wears #7 for the New York Knicks.
Since arriving in New York, Carmelo Anthony has dodged criticism time after time. Sure, Knick fans got on Melo for about a week this season when Linsanity came to an abrupt end upon his return. But since his injury, Knick fans have basically written Jeremy Lin off and pinned their title aspirations to the ball chucking Anthony. Knick fans like hefty scoring totals, which Anthony provides on a nightly basis. But the astute fan knows that strong individual performance don’t translate in the post-season. Add in the fact that Anthony has never made the NBA Finals in his eight year career. Anthony’s playoff numbers are in-line with his regular season averages (24.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG), but Anthony’s unwillingness to play team basketball ultimately plagues his title hopes.
Take Sunday’s game against the Miami Heat. Anthony scored 42 points, but the Knicks fell to the Heat by eight points. Granted, the Knicks were outgunned by the explosive Miami Heat, but Carmelo vs. the World will just lead to another first round exit. Amar’e is expected to rejoin the team this weekend, but even with Amar’e in the fold, the Knicks have showed they don’t play team basketball well with both players on the court. Amar’e's pick and roll partner is rehabbing a knee injury while Anthony needs space to get going offensively. Melo and Amar’e just don’t complement each well offensively… and we can all forget about the word defense.
As we all get ready for the NBA Playoffs, we all aren’t expecting much from the Knicks. They’ll take on either the Heat or Bulls in the first round and Melo’s unwillingness to play team basketball will result in another first round exit. Instead of simply just congratulating the Knicks on making the playoffs, it’s time someone got on Anthony and made him responsible for his team’s lackluster, inconsistent play.
When Melo unlocks his inner Paul Pierce and starts committing himself to team basketball and defense, we can start talking deep playoff runs. Until then, expect the Knick season to once again end in April.