There’s something unfair about the way Carmelo Anthony is able to shoot a basketball. Not that he hasn’t honed his game on the playgrounds of Baltimore, Boeheim practices at the Carrier Dome or mile high air in Denver’s Pepsi Center, but the ease with which he releases the ball with the perfect amount of spin and arm alignment is almost biological in its simplicity. It doesn’t get much better than ‘Melo when he has the ball in his hands.
But then he flashes that smirk that makes Dubya’s aw-shucks countenance of yesteryear seem grown up, and you remember that Carmelo has been sitting on his talent his whole life. God possessed him with the size, strength and coordination to be the best offensive player in the NBA (almost everyone agrees with this assessment), but no titles and another losing trend in Knick land. What gives?
Is he too talented? Does the game come too easily to him? Why does he always seem to be having a good time, and as a fan, you’re halfway convinced he’s bored with his excellence; like a child that acts out in class because the math problem and reading assignment have been mastered already, Carmelo hasn’t even struggled to play the game of basketball, and so he takes the easy way out: the jumper rather than the drive; the rushed shot, rather than sharing the ball; the me before the team.
Sometimes Carmelo will get whistled for a reaching foul near the end of a game, or miss some big free throws down the stretch, and he’ll flash that smirk and chuckle to himself. Like he’s fooled us all, but what has he tricked us into believing? The levity with which he treats the game is aspirational for any fan, but NOT for an NBA player.
At the end of the day, it is just a game, but the comedy of the whole Knicks imbroglio this season shouldn’t be amusing to Melo. He should be cast into the furnace of New York critcism after the Knicks woeful start this season, since it was the trade that brought him to New York which shredded the team aside from Melo, Amare and now Chandler. But the other two men in that equation aren’t Carmelo Anthony, and we all know this.
Carmelo’s the talented one here in New York; the one who does (and should!) command the most offensive reps; the one who can make a solid all-star like Amar’e Stoudemire, look like a spastic big man still raw from high school (even though Amar’e has improved his game significantly enough that he can shoot 3-pointers at a high percentage; when he came into the league he could only dunk it).
Amar’e is an incredibly gifted NBA basketball player, but when you line him up against Melo’s aloof, offensive genius, Stoudemire still comes out behind. There aren’t many people that are good enough to get the ball over Amar’e Stoudemire, but Melo is one of them. In fact, i’d hazard to guess most GM’s would take Melo for their final shot over LeBron and Wade (not Kobe though, who has convinced all the league underlings, except Henry Abbott, he’s impossible to stop in crunch time). Melo’s mellow oeuvre, merely serves to highlight how sick his offensive game has become. There are literally no weak spots. Nothing you can take advantage of except his own love for his brilliance. Like the still drunken athlete at homecoming puking in the bathroom, laughing, then going out and winning the big game. Carmelo’s excellence is almost too natural, so he laughs when he’s playing.
He’s the underachieving, scoring savant too busy staying relaxed to bother with the wins or losses. It’s confounding to root for him because you’re pretty sure he doesn’t give a fuck whether you root or not. He’s the Knicks best hope at a title, but also emotionally above the fray while simultaneously the fray in the Knicks team itself.
How do you coach or play with someone whose brilliance becomes more exasperating once you realize what it’s failing to accomplish. A player who can extemporaneously overshadow the games of the hardest workers in the NBA, doesn’t seem to get it. What “it” is exactly is hard to pinpoint, but Knicks fans know he hasn’t gotten it yet.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, but that’s for another sleepy with hash night.