Watched Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks find a way to lose on Friday night to the Denver Nuggets. Watched Carmelo deliver a mediocre level of effort, take a lot of shots and play below-average defense. Also watched Carmelo fail to record a single assist.
Carmelo was desperate to depart Denver. He wanted a bigger stage, and he found it. There is no grander sports stage in the world than New York City.
Here’s the problem for Carmelo:
Everyone can now get a full view of all of his faults, and they are many.
Carmelo is, in many ways, similar to Kobe Bryant. Both are astounding offensive talents. Both can score inside, outside. Both adore shooting.
But Carmelo lacks Kobe’s raging competitiveness. Kobe constantly hustles, giving his absolute best on offense and defense. Carmelo often slacks when the ball isn’t in his hands. His attention wanders. He fails to run the court with enthusiasm, and this is one of the requirements for greatness. Jogging back on defense is not a something you saw with Magic or Bird or Tim Duncan or Kobe.
It is something you see with Carmelo.
Yes, Carmelo is the greatest player in Nuggets history. He ranks above Alex English and David Thompson and Dan Issell. He led the Nuggets to the 2009 Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets were the second-best team in the NBA in 2009, the high point in the franchise’s NBA history.
Nuggets fans remember those good days. This explains why Nuggets fans booed Carmelo every time he touched the ball. This is what is known as the “Kobe Treatment.”
I asked Carmelo after the game if the “Kobe Treatment” bothered him. He asked what I meant, and I told him.
“Hell, no,” he said in a friendly, laughing tone. He explained that he’s past that stage.
Here’s the problem, Carmelo, Kobe isn’t past that stage. He still cares about virtually everything, still allows unfriendly fans to fuel the remarkable fire in his gut. Kobe cares, and that’s one of the main reasons why Kobe owns six NBA championship rings.
And Carmelo looks on his way to one of those zero-ring careers.