Speak out: Anthony is on a mission in New York

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nouia Eco

WHEN Carmelo Anthony got traded from Denver to New York in 2010, the city that never sleeps got all the more buzzed. Finally, here is an MVP-caliber player who could lead their famished Knicks, a team which hasn’t sniffed the postseason since 2004 to at least a winning record, eventually a playoff stint and possibly the title.

Anthony, together with Amare Stoudemire, who was acquired earlier, gave hope to a
franchise once hobbled by controversies, bad management decisions and consequently, losing seasons that it is somehow starting to get back on track. With that hope though came the rising, even demanding, expectations. Fans and media men of big-market organizations can at times be unforgiving.


Although they achieved the winning record, and secured a spot in the playoffs, Melo and the Knicks still received harsh criticisms for the issues that hovered over the team through the course of the season - nagging injuries, questionable coaching, and perhaps the biggest one, chemistry problems and they all seem to be magnified when they failed to put up a fight and got swept and knocked off by the Boston Celtics in their first round showdown that year.

The following season, a number of changes were made. A new coach was hired, and new personnel were acquired with the most noteworthy being NBA champion, Tyson Chandler.

A high standard was again set for the revamped Knicks, and again, they failed to live up to the billing - entered the playoffs a rank lower than a year ago, got knocked off in the first round just like the previous season and the bothersome issues resurfaced and got more glaring.

Melo got the bulk of the criticisms. They were saying, he doesn’t play defense, he takes too many shots, he gets injured a lot, he can’t co-exist with the other stars in the team and most especially, he can’t lead the Knicks to a championship. They just kept on coming.

The superstar took it all in, the failure, the blame, the nitpicking and the pressure of being able to put the team on his back and carry them as what his good friend, LeBron James did with Heat, Dirk Nowitzki with the Mavs and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. He took it all in and used it as motivation.

Fast-forward to this season, after winning the gold medal with Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics, Melo right away went to work and it translated into good things on the court. With averages of 28.7 points, 44.9 percent shooting clip and 6.9 rebounds per game, he led the Knicks to a conference-second best 54 wins and 28 losses record, winning 15 of their final 17 games.

Melo won the scoring title over defending champ Kevin Durant, but he is setting his sights on the title that matters most - the championship. In fact, the quest for that is already underway.

The New York Knicks are now leading the Boston Celtics, 2-0, in their first round playoff series and although newly-crowned sixth man of the year JR Smith recently-signed veteran Kenyon Martin, defensive anchor Chandler and the rest of the supporting cast all played their parts, the victories can still be largely attributed to Anthony - 70 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, 45.3 field goal percentage and 60 percent shooting clip from beyond the arc in total for the two games played.

You can feel that there is a sense of urgency now for Melo. He has a lot of things to prove, a lot of monkeys to get off his back. And, so far, so good.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 27, 2013.


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