December 26, 2012 5 Comments
The Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony experiment was destined to fail from day one.
Alas, the experiment is still failing.
That isn’t a knock on Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire. It’s a knock on the idiot who decided that putting those two players together with Mike D’Antoni would somehow work itself out. The New York Knicks are winning but their max contract problems haven’t gone away.
It shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone that the Knicks are winning games. They’re 20-8 on the season following their tough loss on Christmas day to the re-energized Lakers. That’s 20 wins without Amare Stoudemire and 8 losses without Amare Stoudemire.
No one has ever questioned Carmelo’s Anthony ability as a player. For much of his career, he has arguably been the best pure scorer in the association.
It was never meant to be with Mike D’Antoni trying to lead two incompatible star players. On the flip side, Mike Woodson isn’t the primary reason for the Knicks unexpected success through the first quarter of the season.
Sure, the Knicks experienced a rebirth due to the culture change provided by Woodson’s insertion as head coach near the end of last season. However, it is the injury to Amare Stoudemire that has been the jump start that the Knicks really needed. It’s not news to anyone that his absence has made the Knicks a better team.
A better team than they could ever possibly be with him on the floor.
Carmelo Anthony is no stranger to carrying teams on his back. He did it throughout his tenure in the Mile High City. By himself, ‘Melo led his teams to the playoffs in the much more competitive Western Conference.
Without Amare, why did we think it would be any different in New York?
Outside of the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference is weaker than the 4 nerds on the Big Bang Theory. The only reason Carmelo couldn’t figure it out in New York was because he was forced to play with another star that he had no business playing with. Surrounded by a cast of players that complement rather than limit him, ‘Melo has reverted back to his ridiculously efficient scoring ways.
Going small and playing Anthony at the 4 has helped. ‘Melo’s maturation as a player and a person should be commended. It has allowed Mike Woodson to throw out these small lineups that continue to shoot the lights. However, Amare’s absence is still the biggest reason for the Knicks success through 28 games.
As a lone wolf, Carmelo Anthony was always going to succeed anywhere he played in the NBA. He may not be the leader or winner that Michael Jordan was but he can make any team a winning team all by his lonesome.
I wrote during the Knicks-Heat playoff series that Amare Stoudemire’s injury from his cartoon-like punch was possibly a blessing in disguise for the Knicks in the short-term. They were clearly better apart than together back then and it is no different now. In the long-term, the issue will remain that Amare has a max contract that is virtually untradeable.
The difference between then and now is that it is no longer a given that the two stars will have to make things work.
No one could have foreseen that the Knicks would be 20-8 but after Amare was ruled to be out for at least 6 weeks, those pre-season expectations should have been raised instead of being lessened. ‘Melo was always better without Stoudemire but everyone just assumed that Carmelo and his cast of geezers would be worse without Amare.
It turns out that isn’t the case.
The Knicks will carry on being a successful team as long as Carmelo Anthony is the lead dog. Maybe not 20-8 good or championship successful or 20-8 good, but they will be good.
That should never have been a shocker with ‘Melo running the ship.
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