A Defense of Carmelo Anthony (Fanpost)

Two of my friends, Scott McConnell (@scottmcconnell7) and Andy Joss (@andyjoss82) are loyal Melo lovers. They joint wrote this piece about defending Melo. It’s actually pretty good and pretty funny. I think you’ll all enjoy it.

Recently, there have been an abundance of anti-Melo sentiments emanating from the world’s most famous arena. Melo has been accused of being lazy, not playing defense, not sharing the ball, and even not trying. But we are here to defend the man who once brought such joy the people of New York.

When Melo arrived in Madison Square Garden, restored to the city in which he grew up, he was celebrated as royalty. Hailed as the messiah that would return the Knicks to the lofty heights that they once dwelled in familiarity. Once proclaimed by this very blogger to be the “best pure scorer in the league”, those talents still reside in Melo’s able body. The New York media and its faithful must learn patience with Melo, as they have time and time again showed this team throughout the past decade.

Like it or not, Melo is there for a purpose. And like or not, Melo will remain there for that purpose. The low blowing and finger blaming is an attitude worse than any act that Melo has committed. Let our message ring loud and clear: The New York Knicks need Melo to win a championship. Sure there may have been games where his effort looked lackluster, or his defense subpar. But Melo does know how to win a championship. Recall his freshman year at Syracuse and his magical run with the Orange to the championship. The media-created negativity that surrounds the Knicks star is the only true tumor to this team.

We would like to leave this blog with a simple plea: do not bash our star for things that he may or may not have done. Instead celebrate his talents and support him for the fact that the Knick nation will not reach its goal without him. Carmelo Anthony would not be here unless he wanted to be, and Melo will bring titles back to the Garden.
In conclusion, many people think that Melo is the hero that New York deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Fair or not, critics will attack Melo for his perceived shortcomings in those times when the Knicks struggle. That is the heavy baggage that comes with the label of superstar and the accompanying max contract. Whenever the team does not perform up to the high expectations laid out, it is Melo who must take the blame. The media will ravage Melo’s good name in an effort to assign blame for their beloved team’s shortcomings. They attack him, because he is strong, he can shoulder the blame.

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One comment on “A Defense of Carmelo Anthony (Fanpost)

  1. Melo was the only one willing to admit he’s playing harder under Woodson (which is not the same as not playing hard), but everyone, even Jeffries, Chandler and Shumpert, have played harder and with more focus under Woodson. Lin and Amar’e are at the top of that list defensively.

    So, in essence, you’re singling out Melo for being man enough to admit the truth, for implicitly taking some responsibility for his previous efforts, and for being what fans and media always say they want: honest

    But there’s more to it.

    Melo’s not stupid. Going into MDA’s resignation, Melo was hearing boo birds every time he stepped onto the Garden floor.
    He gets as much hate mail (tweets, etc) from fans as anyone else in the league considering his abysmal offensive season (slump), the market he plays in, his old city that hates him; he cares greatly about his perception. But he cares more about winning.

    He understood that his comment would reflect poorly on him and he didn’t care– it wasn’t a PR move for himself, but it was a premeditated comment. Melo’s been making post-game comments for more than a decade. He’s dealt with NY press for a long time, he knows when to keep his mouth shut, and when to speak out. He’s not the most eloquent guy in the world, but he understands how great the implications of his words can be, and he often protects himself from caustic negativity by the things he doesn’t say. Sometimes he doesn’t protect himself — he was often candid during MDA’s tenure.

    Here’s why Melo made the comment about playing harder:

    Melo is an excellent businessman who’s spent much of his career around the game’s great players and minds — not just his experience on Team USA, but his time as a National Champion at ‘Cuse, his relationships with Michael Jordan, Dewayne Wade, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant and many others who’ve been in this game a long time and reached (or nearly reached) it’s pinnacle.

    He understands what it takes to win big at this level. When he talked about being envious of the Heat’s approach, he was taking a not-so-subtle jab at his former coach and his lack of defensive acumen, his inability to prepare the team for new situations, and his personality in general.

    It wasn’t the first jab he took at Mike. Why? Melo understood from the time he was traded that MDA was not a coach capable of winning a championship.

    You see, in only two years of Melo’s career did his team finish outside of the top 12 in defensive efficiency. Last year was the second time it happened to him.

    Melo’s been taught a few lessons in his NBA career– plenty came from his first coach, Jeff Bzdelik, a hard nosed defensive-minded and hustle-oriented guy who Melo fought with early on but later forged a strong relationship with. From George Karl, a man with a similar approach, and who eventually got close with Melo until he learned that Melo was not committed to the organization — and from the coaches and players on Team USA — many of whom raved about Melo’s work ethic, defensive intensity, unselfishness, and willingness to fill into any role the coaches asked him to fill.

    But the most important lesson Melo’s learned in his career occurred in the season his team made the Western Conference Finals. You see prior to that year, he played on a somewhat underachieving team with Allen Iverson. They had good defensive seasons, they were brilliant in flashes, but lacked a consistent and disciplined approach to the game. Playing with Allen Iverson was a big distraction. As a young guy who looked up to AI, Melo tried to keep up with him in the clubs and party scene– it led to a DUI, and while Melo was a proficient scorer during that time, his overall development stalled. It led to a miserable playoff performance against the Lakers in which Melo and his teammates weren’t prepared.

    Karl was apathetic towards that team at the very end, and wanted it rebuilt with a new culture.

    So they traded Iverson for a career winner, and a defensive-minded,unselfish, team-oriented alpha-dog leader in Chauncey Billups.

    Melo reformed, too, transformed, actually. He lost the cornrows. He lost weight and had the best off-season conditioning of his career. His mindset changed. he committed to the defensive end of the floor.

    Most importantly, he began to understand what a winning, defensive-minded culture looked and felt like. When Billups arrived, everyone started to play together on both ends of the court. His coach was reinvigorated and began installing actual sets, and a more aggressive approach on defense.From Kenyon Martin to Linas Klieza, the team became gritty and cohesive on defense, unselfish and smart on offense.

    Despite battling injuries that negatively affected his shooting, it was the best season of Melo’s career. By the time he got healthy in April, he was THE best player in the Western Conference playoffs up until game 6 of the WCF — still just 24 years old.

    After years of frustration of not being able to keep up with Wade and Lebron, of not being able to make it out of the first round, of not being able to live up to expectations, Melo, in 2008, under Billups’ culture-changing leadership, learned what it took to win.

    Now, a lot of negative things happened to that team after that year. After a great start in 2009 (they were the top seed in the West with a 45-21 record), one which had Melo playing at an MVP level, the team suffered injuries to all of its top rotations player and then their coach was diagnosed with cancer — players were concerned that he might not live.

    The team finished the year 7-12, and dropped to 5th in the West.

    Banged up and missing a top mental and emotional leader– and the drop-off to Adrian Dantley was a significant one — the Nuggs were in for a world of hurt.

    They lost to Utah in the first round,despite Melo carrying them through the first 5 games of the series — which got Melo thinking about his future.

    When the team decided against going after a REAL big man (like Al Jefferson), a team that desperately needed an inside presence after getting bounced out by two teams who killed them on the boards—because it would mean going into the luxury tax, Melo knew he needed a change of scenery and an owner willing to spend. While he’s from the New York area, it’s no coincidence that the teams he decided on playing for had owners with deep pockets.

    So let’s fast forward. Was Melo not playing hard when he helped lead the Knicks to a season-saving playoff run, one that started with back-to-back 39 point performances and stellar defense? Was Melo not playing hard when dropped 42/17/6 with d-league caliber teammates against the former world champs?

    Was Melo not playing hard when he was asked to carry a huge amount of the offensive burden as a point-forward —a brand new role— on a team that at that time couldn’t shoot straight and had a lead-legged power forward who couldn’t finish?

    Was Melo being selfish and not giving it his all when he played through injury to try to help his team get some much-needed early season victories?

    I think you know the answer.

    Melo played through injury, accepted a brand new role on offense for his coach.

    In fact, when Melo came back from an injury he did everything he could to fit in with the lIn Knicks — let’s not pretend like he wasn’t playing hard either, he just wasn’t playing at an all-nba level defense like he is now.

    So why did Melo’s energy on defense start to wane during the losing streak? Well, he was frustrated at not being given a bigger role in the offense for one, but most importantly, he saw the writing on the wall, the same writing he saw when he was first traded to New York:

    D’Antoni was not a coach capable of leading a Steve Nash-less team to the promised land.

    When you’re a star player, and the weight of the world is on you to perform in a market like New York, when you’ve underperformed all year, the media’s turned on you and claims you’ll ruin the team ……. and you have a history of carrying an offense through a losing streak like an ace pitcher who breaks a slump, wouldn’t you be frustrated at being asked to stand in the corner on offense while a player who was just months ago in the D-league is being given full control while the team loses game after game?

    And let’s look further than that. MDA went out of his way to protect Lin during that stretch. He didn’t protect Melo. Mike went out of his way to ensure Lin would be running the offense every time down the floor with Melo was a full-time bystander, but he never actively tried to incorporate Melo — THAT”S WHY HE HAD TO BREAK THE OFFENSE TO TOUCH THE BALL.

    Enter Woodson. The kind of hard-nosed, direct, defensive-minded coach that can get EVERYONE in line…. that can change the culture of the team like Chauncey did in Denver.

    Let’s not call what Melo did a coup. Many great players in sports, especially the NBA, have either through directive or a passive-aggressive approach, gotten the coach they wanted.

    Magic did it. Patrick Ewing did it. Both were huge success.

    And, let’s start to absorb the results. Is it a honeymoon, or are guys truly playing up to their abilities on defense?

    Maybe you ‘ought to consider that Melo was right, and maybe what he just did was the best thing to happen to the Knicks organization in more than a decade.

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