It’s hard to believe it, but Carmelo Anthony has been in the NBA for 12 seasons. And since his arrival to the Denver Nuggets in 2003, he’s displayed an impeccable ability to score, putting up 21 points per game as a rookie and only building upon his on-court reputation since then. It’s a league-wide consensus that he’s one of the most natural talents in the game.
Anthony is now entering a pivotal season in his career. At age 31, it’s conceivable that he’s right in his prime, but one has to wonder how many years he has left before he naturally begins to decline. It’s hard to imagine his prowess coming to a demise because his basketball dominance has been so rock steady, but it’s a looming subject. And while Anthony’s abilities on the court have always wowed fans, his words and decisions off of it have often left people scratching their heads.
Melo’s image in the media has provided a range of impressions throughout his career. While a member of the Denver Nuggets, he was arrested for possession of marijuana on two different occasions: once in 2004 while he traveled through airport security, and another in 2008 when he was pulled over and charged for driving while impaired. Anthony was 20 and 24 upon the timing of these arrests, respectively, and he was portrayed in the media as a kid who simply made some poor judgments. After the arrest in 2008, Melo plead guilty, paid a fine and was sentenced to a years probation as well.
In an attempt to leave his arrests in the past and overcome his bad press, Anthony was a part of an incredible Denver Nuggets team in 2009. Alongside point guard Chauncey Billups, Anthony led the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals, but they fell short against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. It was a tough loss for Anthony, especially considering what would unfold just two seasons later with him and head coach George Karl. It was clear that the personalities of the two men clashed, so Anthony requested a trade.
It’s not uncommon for athletes to request a trade when they’re unhappy with their surroundings, especially when they have a fallout with a coach or a teammate. But if there was one thing Anthony could do over in hindsight, it’d be his decision to request a trade during the 2010-11 season.
As a native New Yorker, it was well known throughout the league that Anthony had expressed a desire to become a Knick. And with his free agency looming just months away, the Knicks elected to pull the trigger and make a trade for Anthony before he hit the market. This proved to be a costly mistake for both parties, as a roster that had rejuvenated the Knicks was suddenly depleted.
In the eyes of Knicks management, the team had landed their superstar to play alongside Amar’e Stoudemire. In reality, Anthony came across as demanding in the media, and the Knicks oversold for him. Many were left wondering why the Knicks and Anthony didn’t just wait a few months to make a deal for him to come to the team. If that had been the case, perhaps the Knicks would’ve been able to keep players like Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler on the roster. Instead, the Nuggets and Melo both got what they wanted, with an enormous spotlight that Anthony had drawn to himself.
Knicks management has made some laughable decisions in recent years, and following the acquisition of Anthony it only got worse. The Knicks made their window for success incredibly small, and after a remarkable regular season in 2012-2013 where the team won 54 games, the team went on a rapid, downward spiral. Last year’s 17-win season was the bottom.
Through the decline, opinions on Anthony have varied. Following the 2012-13 season, many felt the Knicks were vastly underperforming. While Anthony put up very good scoring numbers, some still felt he should be making the Knicks better than they were. Others felt he deserved more help and was playing with a roster that wasn’t up to par with his status. The Knicks quickly brought in Phil Jackson and everyone anticipated everything to get better in Knicksland.
Then Melo hit free agency. The Knicks were looking to start over with Jackson as their new team president. Anthony was sought after by many teams, one in particular being the Chicago Bulls, who’d benefit greatly from his half-court game. Instead, both Anthony and Jackson agreed to a five-year, $124 million contract. That amount of money for an NBA star shouldn’t surprise anybody, but for an NBA star looking for help and looking to win? Many to this day don’t understand why both Anthony and the Knicks agreed to this deal given that they were looking to rebuild.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the Knicks went out and had their worst ever season as a franchise. While the Knicks struggled, it was well known that Anthony was battling a knee injury that turned out to be a partial tear in his left patellar tendon. He continued to play despite the obvious dud of a season by the Knicks and even played in the NBA All-Star Game.
Again, this created various opinions. Some commended his efforts to play on a bum knee even for a team that was clearly awful. Others thought he was jeopardizing his career for no reason. Some speculated he wanted to play in the All-Star Game because it was held at Madison Square Garden. These speculations were never confirmed, but instead, more confusion surrounded Melo and his career-based decisions.
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that Melo is a superstar, and stars in the NBA have to be very aware of how they’re perceived, because everything they do is magnified on such a vast scale. Melo is likely very misunderstood. He could be a good guy who struggles with fame and how he’s portrayed in the spotlight. Or he could be a prima donna who craves the attention. Nobody really knows. Melo’s reputation off the court has always been somewhat of a mystery. And even more confusing is his relationship with the media.
Here’s what you should know about Carmelo Anthony: He hosts an annual 3-on-3 tournament in the city of Baltimore (he was raised there in the projects) titled “Melo’s H.O.O.D. (Holding Our Own Destiny) Movement.” He opened the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center in Baltimore as well, while also contributing $1.5 million for the Living Classrooms Foundation. Furthermore, he’s contributed to the development of public basketball courts in Puerto Rico.
Melo is from the Baltimore projects. His father died when he was two years old. He worked through a prep school to get good enough grades to go to Syracuse University. As a man who wasn’t given much, he’s done an extraordinary amount of good things with his basketball talent. Yes, a championship has eluded him, as he’s watched fellow members of his draft class such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all win multiple. Unfortunately in New York, it’s a place where fans hold winning titles in extremely high regard.
But as Melo has continued to confuse fans and the media, he’s done some wondrous stuff for his community and displayed some impeccable skill on the court. As the 2015-16 season draws near, many are speculating how Melo will respond to the growth of the team. Will he embrace the youth that Jackson has surrounded him with and be patient through the tough times? Or will he feel the clock on his career is running out and begin to fuss?
All remains to be seen with the ongoing Carmelo Anthony saga in the city of New York.