It's cool to be sour on Carmelo Anthony these days. That doesn't mean it's right.
The scoring savant doesn't really want to win a title, they say. Only the money matters with the New York City lifestyle a close second, the critics chirp. He should have waived his no-trade clause and joined a contender this season, the only-rings-matter crowd preaches.
It's possible some or all of that is true. Anthony essentially forced a trade from Denver to New York in 2011 that forced the Knicks to cough up plenty of key assets. The road from there, even though lined with gold for Melo and La La, has largely been rocky ever since.
There's also another option worth considering: Carmelo Anthony actually wants to stay and help the Knicks contend for if not win an NBA title.
He may be utterly naive in thinking the salary cap-crippled franchise led by one of sport's most notorious owners has any chance for happiness anytime soon. Anthony may simply want to finish what he started. For this possibility, Anthony deserves some credit from the NBA masses or rid we forget how much all of us crushed LeBron James' decision to leave Cleveland in 2010?
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Anthony said, "My thought process is, ‘How can I make this situation better?’ What can we do to make this situation better? That’s the only thing I’m thinking about."
Are those thoughts of winning big with the Knicks far-fetched? Perhaps, but who cares, other than those beaten down Knicks fans who recognize the futility of dreaming.
Part of the James crushing involved the cruelty of breaking up with his hometown franchise on national TV. Yet for those focused on the idea of competitors competing, James' choice to join forces with fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh after coming up short in pursuit of a title Cleveland reeked of fear.
We can't argue with the results. The Heat did win two rings with James as the Finals MVP both time. Miami won the Eastern Conference every time during the four-year run before James returned to Cleveland in 2014. Yet the Miami move for the so-called King went against the famous line often uttered by wrestler Ric Flair. "To be the best you have to beat the best," Flair often stated before and after matches. There was no mention of abandoning your team to join forces with others for an easier time. It's also doubtful Flair ever promoted subtweeting.
This possible flaw aside, there should have been little issue with James' actual departure. Free agents can leave. He did, just as players with no-trade clauses can enforce them. Anthony did even though the $100-plus million left on his contract would go wherever he does.
Anthony turns 32 next month though it's not the age worth noting but the miles. The 13-year veteran, nine-time All-Star and two-time Olympic Gold medalist may never win a ring if he stays with the Knicks. Bummer for New York fans if true. That doesn't mean ripping Anthony for staying is totally fair.
“The only thing I think about is winning more," he said Thursday. "Whether it’s here or somewhere else, that’s the only thing I think about. I haven’t thought about putting myself on another team. I haven’t thought about me on another team. I haven’t thought about any of that.
See, he wants to win in New York. Or, maybe he's just saying such for the PR of it all. Maybe Anthony believes James and others will flock to join him at Madison Square Center some day soon. For whatever the reason, he's decided to finish what he's started. After we spent all that time shredding James for doing the opposite, giving Anthony at least some dap for staying in New York would be kind of sweet.