Should Melo Follow Paul Pierce’s Career Arc?

Via NY Times

Anthony’s critics, including me, have never underestimated his combustible package of size, strength and first-step speed. But his teams in Denver and in New York have produced poor playoff results, and he has admitted to failing to fully grasp the essence of collective elegance until last summer’s Olympics.

Isn’t it fair to say that when it comes to winning at the highest level, Anthony is still an undergraduate student trying to complete a master’s program?

Pierce captured his championship in 2008 after he sacrificed more than 5 points off his scoring average from the previous season to accommodate Allen and Garnett. He also embraced the defensive tenacity brought by Garnett and preached by Tom Thibodeau, who then was an assistant to Doc Rivers.

“You may need that one person in someone’s life, or something to happen off the floor in that person’s life, family-wise, or something,” Rivers said before Pierce gave him 24 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists, not enough against the streaking Knicks, winners of eight straight. “You just never know what triggers a player to play and do all the right things.”

Tommy Dee

This is a fair quote although not completely in my opinion. Here’s why.

Paul Pierce is a hall of fame player in my opinion and a player that I’ve said countless times Melo should look at as an example. Why? Not because Pierce has a title as much as it is he has a well-rounded game especially in big games. Critics haven’t seen this progression in Melo which actually started post Linsanity last year. Why? People were still drooling and weeping over Lin and why they felt Melo was the cause of him leaving.This was on the heels of him selfishly “forcing” his way to New York a point that continues to be leaned on but is as sturdy a table with two legs. You would have wanted your cake and eat it too if you were Melo and if you disagree you didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation. Maybe, just maybe, Melo wanted everyone to be happy including himself. Knicks fans look at this as Melo should have screwed Denver and walked away for less money, or simply say “hold them hostage thus giving up less assets.” The bottom line is it was a good deal all around and the Knicks have quickly restocked. Denver is in a happy place so win-win right? Maybe he wanted to thank the fans in Denver by having a brief cameo because he gave his heart and soul to that franchise. He was actually greeted somewhat warmly, no? Can Dwight Howard and Lebron James say the same?

Anyone write that yet?

Also, does anyone talk about Melo’s 102 defensive rating last year? How about being the Eastern Conference Player of the Month last April heading into the playoffs?

No.

Why? Because all people want to talk about is his playoff record.  That’s not totally fair.

This year, there has been this nauseating “we’ll see in the playoffs” or “this won’t last” disdain from columnists who we’ve point out because of the ridiculousness. Melo has been a leader and an all around player all season. Leaders set goals and the Knicks are on the verge of everything the set out to do in the regular season. So, to be fair, he’s been DELIVERING.

Melo is on the right track and he’s in his absolute prime. Moreover, he’s been proving critics wrong almost every singe night. This is a guy, by the way, who has won 466 regular season games in 10 years. People want to talk about the “average” Knicks over the course of the long winter months but don’t want to talk about the injuries. They talk about this team like the at some point fell out of 1st in the division or came close to falling out of the top 4. Why? Because they just KNEW they were right. They still hold the playoff card, which all are obviously saving as we already mentioned. This is  a different Melo and this is a different team. They are the 2nd best team in the east right now playing without their reigning defensive player of the year.

Look, I hate to say it but I like Pierce the player. Yes he’s antagonistic and plays in Boston but the guy is a great player. He’s not Melo and never has been. He’s been the beneficiary of the controversial Garnett trade and also played with a great PG and a top 5 all-time shooting guard. Melo went to the West Finals and battled Kobe with Chauncey Billups. He’s had to deal with an old Allen Iverson to put him over the top for crying out loud. And, of course, he’s had to play without both Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire against Boston and Miami in the first round.

It’s called perspective. Melo doesn’t need to follow Pierce’s career arc, he just needs to see it as an example and do whatever it takes to win. And if you’ve been paying attention you know that he’s been deferring to the red hot JR Smith lately because he knows if Smith is on they rarely lose against anyone. Smith is the key to their quickly getting out of the first round and surging forward with momentum.

I’ve been saying all year that Melo has changed and as they push towards the end of the season, the Knicks are on their way to be where we expected them to be. Above 50 wins, on top of the division and with home court advantage.

To be fair, Melo has delivered. It’s time for the NY media to start following suit. Sadly, he will be A-Rod until he wins here… but we’ve talked about that before. No need to rehash.