A Bashing of Carmelo Anthony (Fanpost)

Yesterday, I posted a piece, written by my friends, that defended Carmelo Anthony. Shortly after, I received a rebuttal written by Keith Black (@therealkblack25). Here it is:

Here are the facts: It is Carmelo Anthony’s 9th season in the league.  He makes upwards of $18 million every year.  He nearly disgraced himself and acted selfishly in Denver to force his way to New York in time to sign a hefty extension.  He will turn 28 this year.  And he had to actively ask Mike Woodson to hold him accountable.

Yes, a man with nearly a decade of experience in the NBA with a maximum contract needs to be monitored like a 6-year-old boy.  How does a Melo fan rationalize that?  I am not making up that Carmelo Anthony did not try under Coach D’Antoni – he actively admitted it.  Where have we seen this sort of “I’m going to do what I want to do, and try when I feel like it” mentality in New York before?  Stephon Marbury.  Steph quit on Larry Brown and quit on Isiah Thomas – and yet always seemed to be absolved by the MSG faithful of any wrongdoing.  We ignored Steph crying his way out of Minnesota when KG got paid more than him, we ignored how willing the Nets and the Suns were to get rid of a guy that was supposed to be superstar.

It was never Steph’s fault.  Always everybody else’s.  How’s that for accountability?

And now we are seeing the same thing with Carmelo.

The fact that Carmelo lacks the self-motivation to actually give half of a crap on a defense reeks not only of the selfishness we saw from Steph, but of the selfishness we saw from Carmelo just over a year ago when he held the Denver Nuggets hostage to get a trade done.

Carmelo begged for this, he begged for the spotlight, he begged for the impatient nature of the New York media (really, guys, how many Knicks games have you really watched if you are begging for the media to show patience?).  And what did Carmelo do when he got here?

He quit.

He gave up.

He stomped his feet until a new coach came in to monitor him.  Like a child.

The fact that he needs monitoring, that he needs to be held accountable by some third party to actually give a damn is what is scary about Carmelo.  Not the missed shots – eventually they should start falling just by simple regression to the mean.  He is a professional athlete, an experienced one.  Why should he “need” a tough coach to play well?  If he’s the superstar worth the bounty that the Knicks paid for him, shouldn’t he be self motivated to actually care to win for the city he pushed to come to and he “grew up” in (I use the term “grew up” loosely – he moved away from New York at 8)?

I am sick of the excuses for Carmelo, just like I was sick of the excuses for Stephon Marbury.  Carmelo has now quit on two of his previous coaches, one of whom took shots at him the second he stepped on the plane to New York.  Eventually, we as fans have to realize: maybe the player is the problem, and not everybody else.

I want to believe Melo can turn it around, can get himself motivated, to want to be the superstar we all want him to be.  But right now, he seems to care more about himself than he does the mental health and chemistry of the other 14 guys on the floor.

 I wonder what the excuse will be when he quits on Mike Woodson.


5 comments on “A Bashing 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.

  2. You make a very compelling argument. I applaud you on your knowledge and passion. However, I have to disagree with your sentiment.

    I completely agree that D’Antoni may not have been the best coach Carmelo Anthony. As much as I am a D’Antoni fan, him and Melo were not going to work out.

    I understand that Ewing and Magic had forced out coaches. I don’t think Anthony is on that level yet and I don’t think he has earned the right to be forcing out coaches mid-season.

    Did D’Antoni need to go? Probably. I don’t dispute that. However, there is NO excuse for Carmelo Anthony, a max money player, to stop trying. It’s his job to try and make it work. I understand that D’Antoni didn’t want to center his offense around Melo. I do think D’Antoni could have gotten Melo some more touches in the post or on the elbow. He wasn’t a perfect coach by any stretch, but he wasn’t deserving of what happened to him.

    Its funny too because Anthony’s shot attempts have gone down since Woodson took over. I find it appalling that Anthony couldn’t cope with D’Antoni for a full season. I mean Magic won a ring with Paul Westhead. Melo and D’Antoni had less than a half of a season then a playoff series. Then they had a lockout shortened season to try and make this thing work. Melo should have had more patience.

    I guarantee you Ewing or Magic weren’t tanking or sabotaging the good of the team. Melo was breaking the offense. The same offense that had gone 7-1 without him. I mean cmon man. There is no defending what melo did. There is no excuse to sabotage 14 other guys and the good of the team

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