Wednesday night offered a chance to prove a theory I’ve held for a while:
In the NBA world, or at least on the periphery of the NBA world, it matters less how good you are; it matters more how good people think you are.
NBA folks love Kevin Love. They adore him. He’s their guy, the player who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, an All-Star from now until basketball eternity. They emphasize the superstar label at every opportunity. Often, for good measure, they point out his role on the gold medal-winning Olympic team.
In their eyes, Kevin Love was not only the most coveted target at the NBA’s trade deadline; he saves puppies, saved Earth from that giant asteroid and could’ve saved Russia’s hockey team.
And then there’s Carmelo Anthony. Just a scorer, the thinking goes. Doesn’t win. Doesn’t make players around him better. He loathes puppies and thinks the USSR > Russia.
The testing ground for this theory was the standard for all testing grounds in 2014: Twitter. And it worked perfectly. Melo scored 42 points in leading the Knicks to a win. Love scored 42 and led the Timberwolves to a win. The only difference was a major one.
Love’s performance was glorified, deified, praised from every angle. (He’s the anointed one! So underrated.) The superlatives emerged from everywhere, perhaps even from the surface of that giant asteroid, and Wednesday night was further proof Kevin Love deserves a statue somewhere.
But Melo? More like, Meh-lo. I had to search a feed of New York beat writers to find a word about Melo.
Here’s the kicker: Kevin Love is in his sixth NBA season in Minnesota. He has exactly zero playoff appearances. His teams stink. They rarely win.
Melo? He had eight seasons in Denver. His teams had eight playoff appearances in Denver.
Go ahead, ask your NBA friends: Who would you rather have? Without seeing this blog, most will probably say Kevin Love.
Call me bananas, but I’ll take the guy who carried multiple mediocre rosters to the playoffs, including two, ironically, with Andre Miller serving as the second-leading scorer.
And I write this while acknowledging Kevin Love is a terrific player. He’s on the short list of best power forwards in the NBA.
But there’s a lesson in here to all the aspiring pros (and to those of us who like to rank players): Smile for the camera, make funny commercials and be nice to media. They will write, say and tweet nice things about you. All of that will help your Q rating, which will raise your popularity and inflate your value.
If you don’t? You’re Meh-lo.