Carmelo Anthony just recently scored the 25,000th point of his career placing him 21st on the all time scoring list right behind Lakers great Jerry West. Melo has certainly been one of the better players in the NBA since he was drafted 3rd overall in the 2003 NBA draft but the question must be answered, what exactly is his legacy?
Carmelo’s career has been one long fifteen year roller coaster with loops & turns and hills & dips at every possible turn. Let’s look at the very beginning of his career, his rookie season.
His rookie season Melo averaged 21.0 PPG, 6.1 REB, and led the Denver Nuggets to a 43 win season and a playoff birth after winning just 17 games the season before. Carmelo had arguably the most impressive rookie season of any player in 2003 draft and maybe even deserved Rookie of the year honors over fellow star rookie Lebron James.
It was obvious from the beginning that Carmelo would undoubtedly be one of the best scorers in the game and based off what he displayed in year one, he could be a franchise player throughout his career.
As time passed Carmelo quickly grew into one of the most deadliest scorers in the NBA averaging 28 points a game in just his 4th year in the league and acquiring his first all star game nod.
With hall of fame head coach George Karl and one of the best offensive players in the game the Nuggets became a perennial playoff team and were good for 45-55 wins every season. The Nuggets were a solid team but even with Melo as their franchise guy they never appeared to be a real threat in the western conference.
Carmelo was only able to lead Denver out of the first round ONCE during his tenure there and the season he did he lost to the eventual champions Lakers in the western conference finals respectively.
As time progressed relations between Melo and George Karl progressively got worse. Karl became frustrated with Carmelo’s defensive inefficiencies and refusal to distribute the ball evenly to other members of the team. While this was going on Carmelo was seeking a bigger market with more opportunity to promote his image and his brand. The destination that he had in mind was the New York Knicks.
On February 22, 2011 Melo along with point guard Chauncey Billups was traded to the New York Knicks in a moved that gutted the Knicks roster in the process. Carmelo could’ve simply waited until seasons end to simply sign with NY but instead he forced his way there in a move that improved the Nuggets and made the Knicks worse.
During his seven year tenure with the Knicks Carmelo led the Knicks to the playoffs just three times and made it out of the first round just one time where they lost to the Pacers in six games. Over time players progressively became more annoyed with Carmelo’s lack of defense and his failure to effectively facilitate the basketball to his teammates and understandably so.
Towards the end of his time with the Knicks NY soon hired Phil Jackson as President of the team. The relationship between Jackson and Anthony was doomed from the beginning as they were never able to clique on the direction of the team or the style of play they run on the floor, it was a complete mess.
Phil Jackson received immense blame for the mess that was the New York Knicks during his time there and rightfully so, but nearly enough blame was placed unto the star player Carmelo. Carmelo by every metric is one of the laziest star players on the defensive side of the ball in NBA history. It wasn’t that Carmelo couldn’t play defense because when he actually puts effort on that side of the floor hes damn good, the problem is that nine times out of ten he doesn’t even try to play defense on that side of the ball.
There are very few star/franchise caliber players in league history who have won championships whilst being a poor defender and the only player I can think of in recent memory who has done so is Dirk, and even he made up for it by performing the greatest playoff run by an individual player in NBA history.
We’ve been so hard on players like Lebron for being 3-5 in the NBA finals, Durant for taking the “easy” route, and even CP3 for never making the conference finals (He’s a 6’0 PG give him a break) but for some reason Carmelo has all this respect that hasn’t been necessarily earned and I’ll never understand why.
There is no doubt, Carmelo Anthony is one of the most talented scorers in NBA history but he needs to be held more accountable as his career comes to a close. He was never interested in being engaged on defense, he refused to move the ball more, and even late in his career he began letting himself go and didn’t even care to remain in shape.
We need to be honest about Melo, the recent Phil Jackson years in New York garnered him more sympathy than he deserved and it needs to stop. If we want to be overly critical of guys like KD and Lebron, both guys who are supremely better than him, we need to have the same energy for a player like a Carmelo. A player with one conference finals berth and who consistently lost in the first round of his career in his prime.
I don’t care to hear the excuses that he “didn’t have help” because that’s an excuse that is never afforded to other players who are far better. Carmelo was a great scorer in his NBA career, and that fact, and that fact only, should be what his legacy is.