The past two months for the New York Knicks have been nothing short of exciting since they fell one game short of post-season competition back in April.
Since that time, 11-time championship-winning coach Phil Jackson, who is now president of the team, concluded his coaching hunt with the introduction of Derek Fisher as new head coach. With the staffing needs handled, the issue of stabilizing the roster comes next.
The Knicks’ star player, Carmelo Anthony, will set the tone of this offseason. He stayed true to what he has said since the All-Star break and has officially opted out of his contract to become a free agent.
The running sports media narrative is that this decision is simply money versus winning. If Melo wants to win, he’ll leave New York, but he if stays, it’s for the bigger payday. If you ask me, this new way of thinking makes no sense.
Clearly the “analysts and experts” are viewing Carmelo Anthony in comparison to the Lebron James story. LBJ’s relocation to Miami to join the Heat ushered in a new age of superstar players controlling their movements from team to team.
The creation of a Miami “super team” that combined three All-Star-caliber players resulted in four straight NBA finals appearances, two of which resulted in championships. With a success rate that high, the idea is that any player who “wants to win” will look to copy that formula.
Now, let’s ignore the fact that the San Antonio Spurs just won the NBA championship by playing balanced team ball and totally destroying the Heat. It should be understood that the internal drive to win is not simply based on putting yourself on the path of least resistance. Sports contain an intangible element of competition that isn’t just about winning so much as how you win.
From childhood, basketball played in the streets even used unwritten rules of fair play and balance. When picking teams, you purposefully didn’t put the best (or tallest) players together.
The goal was to keep teams even to provide the greatest sense of competition. Stacking a team for a clear advantage may have earned wins, but it didn’t yield respect.
Apply this idea to the pro levels and the Jordan years of the NBA. There was a reason why players like Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, John Stockton and others stayed with their respective organizations.
There wasn’t merely a roaming hit-man type of mentality to get rings at all costs. The greatest of players wanted to be the best by beating the best. Stacking the deck just doesn’t seem right.
This is about the measurement of a player’s career in its totality as it relates to legacy. Would Carmelo Anthony be viewed differently if he stayed, built a contender team in New York and won a single championship or sacrificed millions of dollars to win multiple rings in Miami?
This encapsulates the generational divide that has developed. To many fans, rings are rings, while there are just as many who view each championship within a context of how it was attained.
In the eyes of quite a few NBA fans, Carmelo Anthony forced his way into New York from Denver. The storyline that Carmelo Anthony selfishly accelerated his trade has precipitated quite the bad reputation for Melo.
Even though his play has continued to unselfishly improve since arriving in New York, no one will consider it if Anthony bolts for greener pastures. New York is up for the taking, if Carmelo wants it.
While he makes his decision, there will be no shortage of people voicing opinions on what he should or shouldn’t do. I won’t be one of them. I’m a lifelong Knicks fan, so let the man do whatever he feels is best for him. Let him be where he wants to be.
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