Carmelo Anthony Will Never Win an NBA Title

Carmelo Anthony Frustrated

Carmelo Anthony is a victim of his own talent. He knows on any given play, he is the best shooter on the floor. Therefore, the more I shoot, the more points my team will score.

It doesn’t work like that. While the thought process is sound, that mindset breeds a byproduct of poisonous intangibles that sap his teammates of confidence and rhythm.

Anthony’s play does not make his teammates better. His game is one-on-one, post up, and find a shot inside 17 feet: which is something at which he is amazing. I want to take nothing away from his level of talent.

But when he’s scoring, no one else is engaged. So once Carmelo starts missing, his teammates look lost. They think, not react. The LeBron vs. Carmelo debate is long over, and LeBron wins due in part to their mindset once they touch the ball:

Carmelo: How can I score
LeBron: How can my team score

When Carmelo Anthony is one-on-one in the post, watch his whole focus shift to scoring. Watch his teammates stand around. They know they’re probably not touching the ball, creating a disconnect between his talent and (lack of) on-court leadership. LeBron/Kevin Durant/Paul George are always looking up, scouting the floor.

Carmelo Anthony’s style of play is conducive to winning regular season games. His only formula that ends with and NBA championship is a utopian postseason performance in which he shoots an impeccable percentage from the field. Against postseason-caliber defenses, it won’t happen.

The only way I can see him winning is if he finds it in his game to reserve himself into a #2 role, something I don’t think he’ll be willing to do until he’s well into his 30’s.

From a Knicks fan’s perspective (myself) the most frustrating part about his game is his schizophrenic defense. Watch his defense from his 62-point outburst against the Bobcats: Impeccable. He stays with his man and has that killer instinct in his eye. But when he’s missing, his defense slacks and he becomes visibly frustrated at first chance.

No offense = bad defense, a lethal cocktail if you’re trying to win an NBA championship. Seemingly, when their leader sags off, the Knicks follow suit which leads to a mess on the court and a 20-32 record off it.

Two days ago Carmelo missed yet another potential game-winning or game-tying jump shot late in the game: a shot literally everyone knew was coming. He never drives to the hoop in that situation. Never scans the court for an open teammate. He jab steps until he gets a little space, takes a fadeaway 18-footer and hopes it goes in.

Stephen A. Smith put it nicely: The Knicks are losing with him. They Knicks can lose without him.

I agree. I would rather see a group of scrappy, cohesive athletes. I want to see what these young kids can do – Tim Hardaway, Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler. Their talent and growth is retarded via Anthony’s level of talent.

In maybe the most stacked NBA draft in years, the Knicks will be without a draft pick. Why not #LetMeloGo? I’m sorry, but this experiment failed. Package Carmelo and get a first round draft pick. Let’s get some teamwork. I’m sick of one-on-one basketball. It doesn’t work.

 

Can New York City Own All Four Championships in 2012?

Probably not, but they have a solid chance to own 75% of them.

No United States city has won a championship in all four major sports in even the same decade. Granted, this is a tough task because only 12 cities house all four major sports. Can you name them?

– Oakland in the 1970s – the Raiders, Athletics, and Warriors won championships but the Golden Seals did not.
– Los Angeles in the 1980s – the Raiders, Dodgers, and Lakers won championships but the Kings did not.
– New York in the 1990s – the Rangers, Yankees, and Giants won championships but the Knicks did not.
– Boston in the 2000s – the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics won championships but the Bruins did not.

Boston nearly owned all four championships in a 365 day period from 2007-08. The Red Sox won in October 2007 and the Celtics in June 2008, but the Patriots were denied a perfect season by the New York Giants and the Bruins lost in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Boston did walk away with a hockey championship in ’08 however – Boston College won the National Championship.

The New York Giants won 2012’s Super Bowl after dropping to 7-7 following a horrid loss to the Washington Redskins. Las Vegas odds said the Giants were 100:1 to win the Super Bowl after that loss according to my father. The Knicks are currently 25:1, but more on them later.

The Yankees always have a chance – just like Boston, Philly, or any team coached by Mike Scioscia, I’ll put the Yankees’ odds at 8:1. I strongly believe the Yankees will be one of the final eight playoff teams, so from there it’s anybody’s call.

Let’s say the Yankees stay healthy, click, and get a little bit of luck. They certainly can win the World Series.

The New York Rangers shocked the hockey world this season and established themselves as the best team in the east, arguably in the NHL. Vegas odds has them at 11:2.

8:1 x 11:2 = 44:1 odds (2.3%) New York owns at least three championships in 2012, which includes the Super Bowl Champion Giants.

The Knicks have been New York’s weakest link for the last ten years, but this year they almost have a chance to win it all. Unlike football, basketball is a seven game series and is arguably the most predictable of the four major sports. For the record, I don’t see them beating Chicago or Miami, but remember – the eighth seeded Knicks beat the first-seeded Heat in the first round in 1999. Advantage ’99 Knicks though because they beat the Heat in a then-best of five series.

Passing and playing aggressive defense has given me this slim glimmer of hope with a lot of luck the Knicks can go for a title. Mike Woodson coaches a winning system that emphasizes rebounding and defense rather than D’Antoni’s double shot of offense.

Carmelo Anthony needs to score and Amar’e Stoudemire needs to buy in to Mike Woodson’s system.

Carmelo vs. Durant in game six at The Garden? Nah probably not, but if the Rangers play like they have all year and the Yankees find a way to take home #28 in November, New York will breed a surplus of haters by the Mayan Apocalypse.

…the more the merrier.

Andrew Bynum is Not a Winner

The Lakers are a better team without Andrew Bynum. Their career 1-8 three-point shooting center has a lot of growing up to do.

With 16 seconds left on the shot clock in Tuesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum launched a three pointer from the top of the key. He missed by a mile and was benched about a minute later. (I think he would’ve been benched even if he made the shot.)

But making the blatantly poor decision did not bother me as much as his attitude following it. Listen to Bynum’s body language in Tuesday’s post-game interview:

Subjectively, he sounds nonchalant and conveys a care-free persona.

Objectively, Bynum’s response at the 1:06 mark troubles me. “Why did you shoot the three?”

“I made one last night and wanted to take another one.”

“I” wanted to take another one, so “I” did. Bynum indirectly admitted he is a selfish player at times (at best). Bynum knows he belongs nowhere near that three point line, yet consciously chucked it up anyway.

It shows immaturity and an individualistic mindset. It shows Andrew Bynum’s attitude is detrimental to the Lakers’ locker room. Unfortunately, I believe his decision to shoot the three was a way of saying, “Yanno coach…I really don’t care what you think.”

**In my opinion, the Kobe and the Lakers are fed up with head coach Mike Brown. In his defense, replacing arguably the greatest coach in basketball history plus inheriting a veteran franchise is not an easy task.

Still, Brown will catch a lot of heat. Bynum’s interview begs the question, “Coach, do you have control of the locker room (let alone Andrew Bynum)?” Mike D’Antoni didn’t.

Do Bynum’s seven-foot frame and above average basketball skills eclipse the negative baggage his attitude elicits? Yes, the Lakers won two championships with him, but as he gains seniority, will Bynum’s pro/con baggage tilt in the opposite direction? I think within a year or two it will. What is his “negative attitude ceiling?” It doesn’t help he can’t stay healthy.

The Lakers’ biggest win would have been to trade Bynum in a package deal for Orlando’s Dwight Howard, but that’s a rant for another day.

“Intangibles” is the most underrated stat in sports. We drown ourselves in numbers, but give me a stat for locker room presence. Does this individual catalyze or retard the team’s progress?

It’s the one stat the sports world is missing, but at least now I know where Bynum ranges in the category.

LeBron…This is Why You Will Never Be Michael Jordan

LeBron James is the most athletic, talented, and arguably strongest pound-for-pound player in the league today. He has the gall to take, and hit, circus-clutch shots like this (skip to 2:54)…and this (skip to :45), yet under 24 seconds in the final period, he’s a consistent no-show.

LeBron James is the “The fans’ pressure greatly affects me” poster-child. And we  love it. We fans know we have the collective ability to greatly affect arguably the most powerful character in the NBA.

That’s why it’s so much fun to hate LeBron James – because it works.

*For the record, I do feel bad for LeBron. All he wants is to be loved… it’s just not working out for him.

Dear LeBron,
Here’s a list of your PR moves that made me cringe:

7/8/10 The Decision, & “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach”
How you interpret this: I’m benefiting a charity. This is a great PR move.
How the fans do: “My talents?!” ugh…and yes LeBron, you are the center of attention. I know that’s what you want. Thanks for making yourself bigger than the game.

11/30/11 – Tossing out free T-shirts at an Ohio St. basketball game
How you interpret this: I still love you guys. I’ll never forget where I came from!
How the fans do: It’s like Benedict Arnold giving out free burgers & dogs on Independence Day.

10/11/11 – Tweeting to ESPN’s John Clayton asking when NFL teams can sign free agents.
How you interpret this: The NBA is locked out, but I’m a football fan like the rest of ya!
How the fans do: Why are you worrying about football?! Don’t you care the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the season yesterday?

2/17/12 – Announcing you wouldn’t rule out going back to Cleveland
How you interpret this: I was loved in Cleveland, maybe THAT’S my key to being loved again.
How we do: LeBron… ugh just don’t say anything.

The interesting theme here is (I feel) LeBron truly thinks these aforementioned slip-ups would result in a more positive public image. However, LeBron has dug himself a PR hole so deep he can’t escape with a few pseudo-events or actions. To improve his image, he must at least play a major role in a Heat championship, and multiple times – a feat immensely difficult. I’ll talk about this more later.

And why, LeBron, do you make your twitter handle @KingJames? It comes off as self-centered to the average fan – especially the ones who love hating you.

On a random note, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Eli Manning, and Albert Pujols don’t really tweet. Do the winners naturally avoid twitter? Do great ones recognize social media as a distraction? A concentration retarder? Let me know in the comments.

Fans try to affect all superstars. The difference is the truly great ones either ignore or thrive off the hate. What happens when Kobe, Reggie, Jeter, Eli, Michael, and any other big time winners get hated on?

Kobe Bryant – He was blacklisted after his sexual assault case in 2003. Today, he’s arguably the closest player to Michael Jordan. Kobe claims he has had not rivals in his career, and I think he’s right.

Reggie Miller – No championships, but if you don’t think there was a direct correlation between pressure and performance, watch ESPN’s documentary Winning Time: Reggie vs. The New York Knicks.

Derek Jeter – Five-time World Series Champion in America’s biggest market. Non-Yankees fans have been trying to hate Jeter for 17 years, yet he continues to show he is unaffected.

Eli Manning – The biggest reason why the Gotham Giants have won their two most recent Super Bowls. Okay, you can argue defense carried them in 2007, but not in 2011.

Michael Jordan

LeBron has made some big mistakes in his NBA career – only some aforementioned, but his biggest mistake is one he has yet to overcome – not being himself. He wants to be Michael Jordan so badly. Choosing #23 for the first seven years of his career was LeBron’s inaugural mistake.

It showed weakness. It immediately conveyed he wanted to follow in Michael’s footsteps, not pave his own legacy.

Michael takes the final shot. He didn’t care what you thought. Reggie wanted Knicks fans to hate him – and what happened the last time he played at the Garden? Knicks fans serenaded him with respect – chanting “Reggie! Reggie!” as he left the floor. Barring a crazy steroid scandal or anything unforeseen, Derek Jeter will be cheered in his final game at Fenway Park. I guarantee it.

Fans aren’t dumb. We know who the star players are. Fans judge a player not just by physical ability, but reaction to immense pressure. LeBron has failed to show he can handle the latter.

LeBron, in your best-case-scenario form, here’s how you can become loved again:

1) Fail in Miami. Not on purpose, but if you win even one championship here then leave for Cleveland, it conveys, “Okay, I got one – I’m ready to help you guys now.” Because that’s a slap in the face.

2) Opt Out and Return to Cleveland – Prove to the fans in Cleveland you’ll give up what you went to Miami for – a shortcut to an NBA Title. That will convey, “It doesn’t mean anything if I don’t win it in Cleveland.”

3) Lead Cleveland to an NBA Title

Be The King.

But right now, where’s the killer instinct LeBron? If you don’t have it… that’s okay. Honestly. If you can’t be Michael Jordan it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person nor are you a bad basketball player. If you win in Miami congratulations – that takes hard work. However, you will never be Michael if you win in Miami. You’ll never get back Cleveland’s respect, and you can keep your twitter handle @KingJames because it won’t mean anything.

The King? I have a new one…Dwyane’s Prince.

Jeremy Lin is For Real – Because He’s Smart


Jeremy Lin
is the mortar to Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire’s bricks.

Look at Lin’s obese point total the last four games – 25, 28, 23, 38. He’s shooting 58% from the field, and the Knicks have won all four of those games.

However, his physical game doesn’t impress me as much as mental game. As his shot efficiency indicates, Jeremy Lin makes smart decisions. He plays defense, he takes the open shot, he finds the open teammate, he gets to the free throw line.

Compare those numbers to Carmelo Anthony’s his last four full games:

Points – 25, 26, 26, 11
FG% – 44%
Knicks win/loss – (2-2)

(Yes, those two losses came against Boston and Chicago, but Lin’s dominance against the Lakers allows the juxtaposition.)

In today’s sports world, teams buy this false notion:
The more star players, The more wins, The more Championships

Dear New York Yankees, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, & Philadelphia Eagles,
It doesn’t work like that.

Jeremy Lin is a special player. Midway through the fourth quarter yesterday, Lin hit a long two right in (I think) Pau Gasol’s face, then two possessions later hit an open three from the corner. The crowd was nuts.

The next play is a Jeremy Lin fast break. He goes up strong, and when everyone expects a hard foul and two Lin free throws, he hands it off to Billy Walker for the uncontested layup.

Without any proof, Carmelo Anthony, Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, Billy Walker, and almost everyone else on the Knicks (and league for that matter) would go up strong that next play – maybe get the And1, and get the crowd even MORE into it.

But that pass did it for me. It proved will always make the smart play, unaffected by outside forces. With Lin calling the shots, the team will stay focused and won’t get lost in the heat of the moment, which has been a huge hole in the Knicks game since they acquired Anthony.

Fans are obsessed with points, home runs, touchdowns… but not equally important aspects like assists, base hits, and blocking. Even if Lin doesn’t average twenty points per game this season (he won’t), his game translates into winning basketball. It seems to me Lin would be okay with averaging five points and eleven assists per game. Contrarily, point guards like Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury would not, and it’s why they never won an NBA Championship.

Jeremy Lin is not the most athletic player on the Knicks. He doesn’t have the best shot, he’s not the strongest, and he turns the ball over. But sports teams need to learn championships require the perfect mix drink of talent, not five shots of Tequila.

The Jason Kidds, the David Freases, the Derek Jeters. It’s the player that brings something different to the table and doesn’t look for attention. You can argue the Knicks are a better team without their two best players. Right now they are, but Carmelo and Stoudemire will make the Knicks better…

….so long as they play Jeremy Lin’s game.

How the Media Literally Killed Joe Paterno

Back in November, I posted my “Tiger Woods write-up” that argued Tiger Woods’ failure to win another tournament would be the saddest story in sports history. Right on cue, Woods won the Chevron World Challenge two weeks later.

Even if Tiger Woods never had another top 20 finish, his story would forever be dwarfed by Joe Paterno’s.

Remember the bully in your elementary school who picked on the weakest kid to raise his/her self esteem? Today’s media is the adult version. “Let’s pick on the most popular name of the group at fault so we can get the most attention to our media outlet.”

With that said, here’s my opinion of the people who are most responsible for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, from top to bottom:

Jerry Sandusky……………………………………………………Accused of child misconduct
Tim Curley & Gary Schultz…………………………………….I’ll mention these men later
Joe Paterno…………..Told administrators, not police, what McQueary said he saw Mike McQueary………………..Witnessed Sandusky in the shower with a young boy

This is the order of people I thought got the most attention on ESPN and other news programs. If you disagree, let me know in the comments:

Joe Paterno
Jerry Sandusky
Mike McQueary
Tim Curley and Gary Schultz

You may not know who Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are – and that’s not your fault, because they received barely any attention. The former Penn State athletic director and former university vice president, respectively, were legally responsible for informing police about the situation Joe Paterno had told them. They did not. Paterno’s legal responsibility was to inform university administrators, which he did.

I want to clarify I am not pardoning Joe Paterno of fault. I’m not arguing he shouldn’t have gone to police instead of solely his direct contact. However, he is one of two people (Mike McQueary) of the five listed above who legally did what he was supposed to do.

After the scandal, I believe ESPN and other media outlets focused a disproportionate amount of negative attention on the Penn State head coach because of his iconic reputation, which gave their stories more “juice.”

This article by ESPN’s Jemele Hill summarizes what ESPN drove into overkill – that Joe Paterno should have gone to police, not just university administrators. The argument is sound, but received far too much attention compared to the attention on the fact Jerry Sandusky should not “sodomize a ten-year-old boy.”

But our 24/7 media frenzy attacked the head coach for not informing police, and many people were calling for Paterno’s firing. The sudden negative attention put Penn State in an awkward position, and only four days later made the loud decision to let go of the man who started as an assistant coach 61 years earlier.

When the national majority was calling for the firing of coach Paterno, I think this was Penn State’s thought process:

“The media says the nation wants him fired. Our reputation is in serious danger. If we want to preserve our reputation, it’s in our best interest to give the nation what they want, and as quickly as possible.”

We live in a country so scared to be politically incorrect, especially on a large-scale. The politically correct thing to do in this situation was fire Joe Paterno. It didn’t matter he was the longest tenured major college football coach in the nation nor he devoted almost three-quarters of his life to the program.

On November 9th, Joe Paterno was fired via a phone call from Steve Garban, chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees. Less than two weeks later, he was admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center because of lung cancer.

Just over two months after news broke over Paterno’s treatable form of cancer, he develops “minor” complications, then dies only days later.

My gut tells me Joe Paterno would still be alive if the media handled the situation with a more patient and softer approach. Joe Paterno experienced first hand what it’s like to have a large proportion of the country against you.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who sat down with Paterno during a three-way interview at State College in July, mimics these thoughts in a recent interview with ESPN’s Rece Davis. At 2:34 he says, “I wish (this) whole thing would have been handled differently. I think how it was handled certainly had an impact on his longevity of life.”

An 85-year old man who only knew love and support was abruptly thrust into the inescapable snake pit of the media blacklist. Then, the same man who three weeks earlier coached his football team to their seventh straight win, discovered he had lung cancer.

Joe Paterno’s death on Sunday closed the book on a legend. He cannot return from this tragedy to come back and coach his team to a national title. He will not be around if new developments show he was less at fault. Unlike Tiger Woods,  he does not have the potential to rise back to the top. Unlike Tiger Woods, Joe Paterno did not commit an act of wrongdoing.

Without undermining the irreversible damage he did to those young boys, Jerry Sandusky destroyed a legend. A man who’s final game was scripted to be the most celebrated moment in college football history, a man who devoted his life to the growth of young players and their university, a man who forewent a normal retirement to continue working the one job he’s ever loved, was villianized then let go seemingly in one fell swoop because of the work of a monster. This modern day Iago has done more damage to more people than we may ever know.

My professor Phil Anastasia said it best today: Joe Paterno was Jerry Sandusky’s last victim.

This Shakespearean tragedy is so incredible because it combines one of the greatest heroes and greatest falls reality can construe. Empty from loneliness and dejection, we watched the biggest rockstar in college football slowly die more every day for ten weeks. We saw how a broken heart may eat away at one’s desire to live.

A human being, a husband, a father, I believe Joe Paterno is a tangible example of how modern media literally killed a man.

It’s Time to Fire Mike D’Antoni – Here’s Why

The Knicks are playing .500 basketball since Carmelo Anthony came to the Knicks last February and .500 basketball since acquiring the most prized free agent, Tyson Chandler, this offseason.

That’s unacceptable. Here’s three reasons why the New York Knicks need a new head coach.

1) Defense Wins Championships

Of the last ten NBA champions, nine have finished in the top ten in defense during the regular season. Five have finished in the top three. Mike D’Antoni is notorious for his “All Offense, No Defense” coaching system. D’Antoni’s Suns lead the league in scoring from 2004-2007, but never made it further than the Western Conference Finals. While “the best defense is a good offense” is a popular aphorism, it doesn’t work in the NBA.

In the nine full seasons Mike D’Antoni has been a head coach, he has finished in the bottom three in defense six times. His teams have never allowed fewer than 102.8 points per game, yet no NBA champion since the 1995 Rockets has allowed more than 97.2 points per game.

2) Too much indecision

In a less objective argument, the Knicks have no fluidity right now. In their embarrassing loss two nights ago to (ironically) the Phoenix Suns, I saw a lot of stuttering instead of playing, watching instead of moving, and thinking instead of reacting. The Knicks are playing like they have too many superstars – a 60 minute game of roullete, “OK lets give it to Amar’e in the post, then Carmelo on the wing, then Amar’e for an elbow jumper…”

Before Carmelo came to the Knicks, there was more motion. The Knicks let the game come to them instead of trying to force the action. They need to get back to those fundamentals, and I think D’Antoni is too lost to do so.

3) Amar’e and Carmelo do not fit into the “seven seconds or less offense”

D’Antoni preaches shooting the ball – every shot is a good shot. It works when Steve Nash is your orchestrator, but not with the Knicks’ inexperienced backcourt. Telling Carmelo Anthony to shoot! shoot! shoot! is like letting a bull loose in a china shop. D’Antoni’s system fails to regulate Anthony’s shot selection – hence we see Carmelo pulling up for contested 18 foot jumpers instead of working off the ball for the better shot.

Carmelo is shooting 41% from the field this year, his worst output since his rookie season.

Comparably, Amar’e is best off the dribble or when he’s open for an elbow J. For either one of those things to happen, you need to let plays develop – you need to settle into the half court offense, which the Knicks rarely do.

Lastly, Amar’e’s knees will give out. I don’t know when, but he won’t be playing basketball at 35 (in 2019). Amar’e Stoudemire is a beast of a man, yet injury prone. He wears goggles every game because of a retina injury he suffered in Phoenix, his knees are weak and his lower back is a time bomb. In a system that requires constant running, a more relaxed offense would mean more minutes for Amar’e and more effective play from the Knicks’ superstars. In this condensed season, this point is magnified.

Hopefully the Knicks will be getting Baron Davis back soon. His experience at point guard and ability to shoot the three are just what the Knicks need, but I’m not convinced he’s the savior of the franchise. The Knicks will win more games with Baron Davis than without him, but they won’t be a better team – they’ll be a less worse team. As mentioned earlier, Mike D’Antoni does not have a winning system. Even if Baron Davis stays healthy (he won’t), the Knicks are destined at best for the four seed in the Eastern Conference, and if they’re lucky a second round exit.

Why not promote defensive specialist Mike Woodson to the head coaching position? Anthony and Stoudemire are elite on the offensive side – it’s their defense that needs work. If Woodson can round off their game on the defensive side, then you have a realistic chance to compete for an NBA title.