Carmelo Anthony should make it onto another NBA roster before his basketball career is finished
For most of the time spanning the years 2011-2017, Carmelo Anthony was a beloved hero in the Mecca of Basketball in Manhattan.
Coming over from the Denver Nuggets after a few seasons there and an NCAA championship title in 2003, the New York Knicks and their fans felt they had traded for their next Bernard King, their next leader, and more so their next dangerous scoring weapon. In an era where professional basketball has become more about flashy scoring then defense, they certainly got the latter of the three characteristics.
Anthony would become an instant star in the bright lights of New York City, both with his staple headband-arm sleeves look and his incredible ability to score. With each passing game, he continued to dazzle the crowds and the stat sheet with 20, 30, or sometimes 40-point performances, with his most notable point total being 62 against the then Charlotte Bobcats. It was these types of performances that landed him the honor of NBA scoring champion in 2013.
However, since September of 2017, that has all changed, and the Carmelo Anthony narrative took a complete 180-degree turn.
Following months of disagreements with team ownership and pulling all the unfair blame for the Knicks’ continuous failures, Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. There his playing career hit a landslide, as he had to share the spotlight with two other stars in Russell Westbrook and Paul George and eventually accept a lesser role than before. This trend was only heightened with the Houston Rockets and, along with seldom injury problems, led to a short10-game partnership.
Now, Carmelo Anthony has seen his professional career come to a halt, his personal stats go down, and the perception of his athleticism and basketball ability grow negative. Besides some little murmurs regarding a couple teams, not one is expressing legitimate interest in signing him, even the league’s best teams who are looking to write the next chapter of the super team. One sports reporter recently viewed Anthony as a washed-up star incapable of winning a championship at this stage in his career and undeserving of a ceremonious farewell tour.
Many are expecting the fat lady to sing on Melo’s NBA career; however, this should not be the case.
As Anthony strongly put it himself in a requested one-on-one interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s show “First Take”: “I feel like I still can play, I know I still can play. My peers know I still can play.”
Carmelo Anthony is not ready to hang up his sneakers just yet, and we shouldn’t be ready to see him do so either. He still has valuable intangibles to offer in the NBA and one team should bring him onto their roster for the upcoming season.
For an NBA franchise that’s struggling to find offensive production or whose offense needs a boost to reach playoff level, let’s not forget that Carmelo Anthony is one of this decade’s greatest shooters. Possibly the one thing he is best known for is his smooth three point shot from various distances around the perimeter whose hot stretches bring out the well-known three taps to the headband.
During his peak years with the New York Knicks, Anthony averaged 44% on field goals attempted and nearly 40% from three-point range. On a nightly basis, the Knicks, regardless of the team’s overall performance, were seeing 20, 30, and sometimes 40-point showings from their star and it captured people’s attention.
Most notably, in the 2010-2011 season, his first with New York, Anthony’s three-point shooting had become so consistent that he was, according to stats provided by ESPN, converting 2.0 three-point shots for every 4.6 shots taken. The one other time he came close to this was in 2013-2014 when he averaged a conversion of about 2.2 shots for every 5.4 taken (40.2%).
It is true that Melo’s numbers have dropped tremendously since being traded by the Knicks, but that is largely due to him playing for organizations that have other stars who have their focus and get a lot of the offensive opportunity. He hasn’t been given the amount of offensive opportunity nor the minutes necessary for him to show his true potential even after 16 seasons.
Adversaries of Carmelo Anthony would be quick to argue that if you give Melo the time, i.e the offensive opportunities, and the ball he would try to take over the entire game as was seen in New York. However, this is not the whole player that he is, and he has made that known.
Of course, if the ball is in his hands and he has the chance to impact his team on the scoreboard, Anthony will want to take the shot to contribute however many points he can. Yet, as a talented professional he knows when to pass the ball and will to a teammate when they have the best chance to score. Critics will try to not show that in the media, but the proof that Melo is a team player is in the pudding: the film.
The primary reason Carmelo Anthony was a constant name announced after nearly every bucket in Madison Square Garden was because he had to be that guy who was largely responsible for the fate of the Knicks’ games. New York’s front office failed to provide Anthony with the right pieces that he pleaded for to help him bring a title to the Garden.
Along with being a prolific offensive addition to any NBA roster, Carmelo Anthony is an accomplished player despite the absence of an NBA Finals ring.
In today’s era of professional sports, we are so quick to downplay an athlete and their career when there isn’t a championship attached to their resume. Sure, when it comes to championships the elite are separated from the great, but it’s not all that defines an athlete.
While Carmelo still has time to join the elite company of NBA championships, he should still be considered a great and talented basketball player. Thus far in his career, Anthony has been named an NBA All-Star ten times, made All-NBA teams six times, won the NBA scoring title in 2013, and has received numerous accolades and medals playing in FIBA for the United States national team.
Therefore, it is highly unfair for teams and media personnel to view Carmelo Anthony as washed up and another player among the many. He will always be, and rightly, a part of one of the great modern NBA draft classes and one day could likely end up in the Hall of Fame regardless of a title berth.
Amongst other things, Carmelo Anthony is a worth signing because he is a consummate professional who knows how to lead and has a great love for the game of basketball. Throughout all the “Melo drama” in New York where he was getting blamed for most of the Knicks’ failures, Anthony remained mentally strong and continued to play his heart out for them. He formed great bonds with coaches and players and wanted to succeed with them.
Most importantly, however, Carmelo’s defining characteristic is his loyalty.
It would have been easy for Anthony to say he wanted out of New York with all the unfair treatment he was receiving from ungrateful fans and management, but he didn’t go that route until he was practically forced. He wanted to do whatever was possible to remain with the Knicks’ and make them a title contender again, but in the end the front office seemed to have other plans.
As he moved on to Oklahoma City and eventually his extremely short stint with the Houston Rockets, Anthony still carried with him that same loyalty. When the two teams wanted him to accept different roles on their rosters and see different minutes than accustomed to, he was completely fine with that if it meant he was doing his part to help the team and himself compete for a championship.
Carmelo Anthony is a class act basketball player who knows how to lead, make himself and his teammates better, and respond to and handle all the pressure and hype that comes with being a highly talented star. Unlike other players who tend to get irritated, though it can be justified, by media probing and become a media spectacle, he always answers to media praise and criticism professionally.
With Anthony, there may be stories about his stealth and health, but you won’t find many if any at all about his comportment and game.
Within months of beginning a new NBA season, many players have found the new deals they’d been looking for, yet Carmelo Anthony remains unsigned.
The 35-year-old veteran small forward has seen his career go from Midtown big shot to free agent undesirable within two years, bringing along vast questions and curtain calls. Having only the pinnacle of an NBA championship left to be reached, he can’t find a team to help boost him there.
There have been murmurs of a Lakers or Clippers partnership, but so far that’s only been blown smoke. Even the Knicks were considering a reunion until their summer free agency plans fell apart completely in terms of bringing in two max players.
Either way, Carmelo Anthony is a talented and accomplished small forward who can still make his mark in the NBA for a team, regardless of whether his lone production equivalates to championship success or not. He’s been a gifted shooter, passer, and post-up specialist, he just needs the chance and opportunity to show his true colors one last time before it’s really over.
By the time the NBA season tips off in late October, we should see Carmelo Anthony on a roster.