It was peculiar to see Carmelo Anthony in Brooklyn after not seeing Carmelo Anthony anywhere. Pre-game, Melo predicted a Dwyane Wade triple double and that is what Wade delivered in his farewell. But the Carmelo cheerleader thing was a bit odd. Melo, LeBron and Chris Paul represented for their best friend. Only Paul is in the playoffs. Wade is retired. LeBron is making Space Jam 2. And Melo is….? What exactly is Melo? Is he retired? Is he trying to come back for next year? Is he cool with how everything went down meaning is he happy that no one wanted him on their team, even as teams could use a shooter? So that means everyone thinks he is washed up.
At the end of the game, Wade dribbled the clock out and the ending was as classy as the beginning. Hugs for all his Heat teammates and staff and Wade eventually removed the jersey for the swap. Who was to get it? At the end, it was Melo. A fitting choice. Melo was the reason Wade didn’t retire last summer when he was prepared to end the career. Melo convinced Wade he needed to come back for one more go round to get the fan appreciation, so fans can see him and give thanks. It was enough of a prod that Wade decided on one more year.
Players are denied that last farewell. You don’t always control your fate. The lucky ones are able to say goodbye. So I suppose we can agree Carmelo wasn’t lucky at the end. Is it a shame that Carmelo’s last moment on the court was as a Rocket and not a Knick, and, against his old team the Thunder?
Melo was depressingly awful. He took 12 shots and missed 11. He missed all six threes. He scored 2 points in 20 minutes. The game before, against the Pacers, he shot 33% and 28% from three, and had 8 points. Although he had three 20-point games, Melo had 6 games scoring under 9 points. This with an offensive genius of Mike D’Antoni as his shepherd. The Melo talent was suddenly out the window and he had no usefulness being ordinary.
Even at 37, Dwyane Wade was never ordinary. He had a season that made you think he could do it one more time but after that leap on the scorers table last night you knew. Nah, his hops are gone. But his 33% from three was better than MJ’s 29% and Kobe’s 28% during their last year. In the last three games of his career Wade scored 21, 24 and 25.
Dwyane Wade is top 4 scoring guard all time. 13 All-Star games. 19 Player of the Week honors. 6 Player of the Month awards. He was 1st or 2nd team All-NBA five times. He was All-Defensive three times. He finished top-5 in the MVP race twice, in 2008-10. He was first in usage during that same time period. He scored over 23,000 points, was MVP of the Finals, won three titles and an Olympic medal. He was the scoring leader in 2008-09 and led the league in PER in 2006-07.
All of that excellence when Wade wasn’t even supposed to be a NBA player. He had his MCL removed because he didn’t see a professional athlete future. And then there were his personal hardships.
Once, the usually amiable Wade was thrown out of his college practice by coach Tom Crean. (Crean was in Brooklyn at Wade’s last game). When Crean finished practice and walked down the hallway, he saw a young Wade crying his eyes out. Crean sat down and Wade confessed his mother had just turned herself in. She’d had a work furlough and never went back. But she knew she had to finish her sentence. Wade was distraught. He had spent so much of his young life without her. But as his commercial noted, Wade falls down and always gets up. It allowed him this incredible year that is now over.
Carmelo’s future is a little cloudy. Is his career over, or was this just a hiatus? Can Melo shoot? Is he in shape? Does he have the hunger? Or, is he happy now, finally?
Brooklyn is in the playoffs and the Wade celebration was as much about seeing Wade off for the rest of his life as it was a rite of passage for the Nets. Wade had a triple double, 25 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and the Nets had the 76ers on their mind.
It’s the NBA. So things change on a dime. Melo knows that more than most.