You wanted to play in the Big Apple and were willing to accept all that went with playing in the Basketball Mecca. The New York Knicks traded half of their roster to obtain you. Your former head coach walked away because allegedly the two of you did not see eye-to-eye. And now, your new coach says he’s going to run the offense through you, despite the success the team has experienced running it through other players. Thus far, you have received everything you wanted. Now Carmelo Anthony, it is time for you to stand and deliver.
Some say that the Knicks strongly suggested that Mike D’Antoni step down last week. The official statement released by the organization was they mutually parted ways. What ever took place, D’Antoni is no longer running the show and Mike Woodson is now calling the shots. Most New York basketball fans were elated when the Knicks obtained Anthony last year, perhaps with the exception of D’Antoni. Anthony’s game did not exactly mesh with the former head coach. D’Antoni wanted to run a free wheeling, spread-out offense, where Melo prefers to establish himself on the blocks and take his time with ball before deciding what to do with it. This was everything against D’Antoni’s basketball philosophy, so they were butting heads from the beginning. The Knicks offense never got on track with the head coach and the superstar, and many others, felt one of them had to go in order for the team to succeed. Then a funny thing happen that extended D’Antoni’s stay in New York.
Carmelo Anthony got hurt and Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to emerge not only as rising star but everything D’Antoni wanted. Lin penetrated the lane at will, either creating a shot for himself or his teammates. He did turn the ball over and did not play that much defense, but in D’Antoni’s world it was not held against him. For three weeks while Carmelo was on the bench nursing a few injuries, Lin led the Knicks to an 8-1 record. While we were basking in the glow of Linsanity, questions were being tossed around, like whether Lin and Anthony could coexist when Melo returned. Personally, I thought it was foolishness, but when Anthony returned and the Knicks lost six straight, those who thought that Anthony was the problem, including D’Antoni, had all the ammunition they needed to justify putting the ball in Lin’s hands and reducing Anthony’s role in the offense.
It seemed as if the same fans that wanted to give Anthony a parade down the Canyon of Heroes just for putting on a Knicks uniform now wanted to run him out of town. The critics were citing how his old team became a better squad with his departure and the Knicks became a sub .500 team after his arrival.
One could look at Melo’s body language and see that he was not happy during that six-game losing streak, despite him saying all the right things to the media. You knew a change was about to come. Either the Knicks were going to trade Melo or D’Antoni was going to be shown the door. According to reports, D’Antoni walk out on his own. OK, if you say so. That’s the Knicks’ story and they are sticking to it.
The organization tabbed Mike Woodson to replace D’Antoni. Woodson is the anti-D’Antoni. He preaches defense first. He believes in isolating his superstars and exploiting their talents, versus spreading the ball around. At least on offense, Anthony is going to get what he wants. Now it is time for him to buy into Woodson’s defensive philosophy.
Unlike D’Antoni, Woodson believes in Anthony’s game and is willing to tone down Linsanity. Like I said before, I did not expect Lin to continue to score over 25 points a game. The League caught up with him, taking advantage of his weaknesses, like forcing him to his left and trapping him once he got in the lane. Don’t get me wrong, Lin is a legit NBA player. If he scores 12-15 a game and dishes out 6-9 assists a night, I will take that in a New York minute!
The Knicks and Carmelo have flourished under Woodson. They vaulted out to a 3-0 start. They have played lights-out defense, holding all three opponents to under 90 points. They are sharing the ball on offense and have averaged over 110 points a game during this stretch. Melo has gotten off to hot starts in each of the games. The bench is actually playing better than the starters. All seems well in Knicksville. Now all eyes will be on Melo to see if he and the team can sustain this production.
Under Woodson, players will be held accountable, unlike D’Antoni, and that includes the superstars. Melo’s image has taken a few hits over the past three weeks. Now is time for him to put the team ahead of his personal needs. Hopefully he realizes that he has to be ALL IN on the defensive side of the court and move the ball a little bit more on the offensive side. Even if his offensive output drops five points but the team is winning, he will be revered more in this neck of the woods than if he scores 30 a game and the team does not make the playoffs.
Carmelo now is the time to seize the moment. We know that you can score. No one questions that. Now we need to see you lead and win.