Carmelo Anthony. One of the most electrifying scorers in NBA history. A nine time all-star. A scoring champion. Most likely a future hall of famer. There are lots of accomplishments Melo has on his wall, but one big one still eludes him. That is an NBA champion award. Melo has never even played in an NBA Finals, let alone won one.
There are different opinions as to what the reason for this is. Some blame the teams he’s been on, others his coaches, and still others place the blame on Melo himself. Whatever the reason somebody comes up with may be, the real and most obvious reason is the fact that Melo is the only one holding himself back from a championship. Some of you may think I’m crazy, but let me explain myself.
Carmelo is a phenomenal player, and on the court he’s done everything that he’s been asked, but how he handles his business off the court is what holds him from holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his hands. I’m not talking about his personal life or anything like that, I’m talking about the decisions he’s made in the offseason as to how much money he makes and where he wants to play.
The most obvious example of this is the summer of 2014, the only time Melo became a free agent in his entire career. As you would expect, he had a line of teams eager to sign him, such as the Bulls, Lakers, Mavericks, and of course the Knicks. After narrowing it down to the Knicks and the Bulls, Melo had a big decision. He could either stay in his birth place and get the most money, or he could go to Chicago where he would have been the missing piece to a serious championship run. Ultimately he decided to stay in New York and sign a 5-year, $124 million dollar contract. This wasn’t necessarily a “bad decision” — he’s making $124 million dollars — it just didn’t help him with his goal of winning a championship. In fact, 2 season into the contract, that goal is starting to become more and more in jeopardy.
When Melo re-signed with the Knicks, he ignored the fact that the Knicks were nowhere near being a contender. He knew they were in the rebuild, and was apparently committed to Phil Jackson’s plans for the team. So far, that commitment hasn’t worked well for him at all. Melo has gained nothing from making this decision besides the dough. I get Melo wanted to be loyal to New York, and we all appreciate it, but it just doesn’t make sense. The Knicks had the worst season in franchise history last year, and aren’t making the playoffs in 2016 either. They do have a future stud in rookie Kristaps Porzingis, but they don’t have their first round pick for 2016 as a result of the 2013 Andrea Bargnani trade (seriously?). The future is just one huge mystery for the Knicks, with no real plans put in place. As much as I love seeing Melo in a Knicks uniform, unless he leaves New York, which is becoming more of a possibility, I don’t see him ever winning a championship. I know Melo loves New York and desperately wants to win here, and we Knicks fans would love to see that, but his team is just falling apart in every fashion of the game. Unless they turn the tables and make some big changes, this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Melo needs to follow the lead of his good friend Lebron James. Desperate to win a championship in his hometown Cleveland, he was willing to take a short-term contract so that the Cavaliers could snag more pieces to the puzzle. The result of this was a trip to the Finals, and another chance at it this year. We can even go back to Lebron’s Miami days, where he took less money to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form arguably the best big three in NBA history. Along with this he got two NBA Championships and went to the Finals all four seasons he was in Miami. Lebron was willing to take less and put the hunger of winning a championship over the goal of how much money he makes.
I’m not saying Melo isn’t a team player, and I bet he’s a great guy. He has the right intentions, but he needs to realize that those intentions aren’t much of reality before it’s too late. He needs to put the goal of winning a championship ahead of his salary, and so far he hasn’t shown the ability to do that. It could be taking a pay cut, going to a new team, who knows. But until Melo makes smarter decisions and takes the extra step like Lebron did, winning a championship will remain solely a dream.