He was smiling, radiantly. In the depths of Carmelo Anthony’s eyes there was a sense of ease, not frustration or despondency. It was as if Carmelo had been here so many times before and knew what was required and it didn’t even faze him. His face kept breaking into a helpless grin as he swallowed and words tumbled out. Perhaps it was all politically correct and only Anthony can say how much was the unabridged truth and how much was something far different.
Carmelo wasn’t mad at basketball czar/genius, New York failure Phil Jackson. And no, he didn’t want to be traded. He didn’t mind the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis which sounded, oddly, brotherly, defending an outsider, but it wasn’t particularly believable either, his acceptance of rebuilding hell. Anthony reminded the assembled writers he never said one thing negative during the off-season. “I never said that s—. Whatever rumors you guys heard about me or Phil (Jackson), about Porzingis, about anybody, it’s all false.”
It was the sort of defensive self-preservation that is so Carmelo Anthony: don’t blame me. Was he trying to make the point that he is misunderstood?
“I didn’t say none of that. That’s why I’m bothered. It’s always speculation.”
The one person in the NBA who can never catch a break no matter what he does is Carmelo Anthony. The fault is Anthony’s for not being able to carry a team past routine exits in the playoffs despite being one of the great scorers of his era. The problem is his talent seems finite, good only for one thing and one thing only, scoring. It leaves you feeling cheated. Carmelo Anthony is the public representative of everything that is good about New York Knicks basketball and Carmelo Anthony is the public representative of everything that is miserable about New York Knicks basketball. Never is there a middle.
Despite Carmelo’s joy in Las Vegas- and why not, he is one of 34 USA basketball team members- there is nothing happy about the New York Knicks right about now. Their big free agent prize(s) were Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo and Sasha Vujacic. Not a very pretty haul to make fans believe the misery is nearing its end or that it has reached its climax. The Knicks are better but fans have been saying that for a decade.
But Carmelo was spinning it forward, asking us to swallow liver and pretend it tasted like steak.
“We didn’t get DeAndre (Jordan), we didn’t get LaMarcus (Aldridge) and Greg (Monroe) but Robin (Lopez) is a great addition. Arron Afflalo, I played with him a long time in Denver. (Kyle) O’Quinn is a great pickup. I think guys will like him. He’s a big guy, power forward. Derrick Williams, we’re going to get him right. He seemed focused. And then rookies, KP (Porzingis), I had him with me last week working out at my gym…I feel good about the pieces we’ve got.”
Being back on the basketball court after knee surgery ended his 2014-15 year was more than enough to give Carmelo a refreshed attitude even though he’s not doing any contact drills. Having basketball taken away makes basketball more sacred. Besides, playing with his best friends, LeBron James and Chris Paul, also helped lighten Anthony’s mood and forget the miserable season of the New York Knicks.
“But I’m good man, mentally, physically, spiritually. I’m excited about the new team that we have and I look forward to leading them.”
Which of course is the Carmelo Anthony problem, him leading a group of players who are either too young, too unproven or too average.
photo via Wikimedia.org