There is No New Carmelo and That’s OK

Brian DiMenna

It’s become something of a genre, but SI’s Chris Mannix penned the latest “Carmelo Anthony is now a team player” column that seem to pop up depending on the direction of the Knicks’ most recent play. Here is what they sound like:

Anthony is 28 now, the unquestioned leader of the Knicks, the team he demanded to play for and, perhaps, the last team for which he ever will. New York has the NBA’s longest active winning streak of six games, defying age and injury to surge into a tight race with Indiana for the No. 2 spot in the East.

Standing in front of Madison Square Garden on Thursday, where Anthony was promoting his participation in Degree Men’s DO:MORE campaign, he professed a greater understanding of what it takes to win a title. He needs to score, sure. But he also needs his teammates to back him up.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with any of this, I’m just not sure I buy it. If you look at the bulk of what Carmelo’s been doing this year, you don’t find an awful lot that jumps out at you as being much different from any other point of his career.

There’s obviously some natural maturation that occurs in all of us, there’s certainly things I did when I was younger that I don’t do much now, things like jaegerbombs or peeing in public. But I just don’t think Anthony’s perceived coming of age really has much to do with New York’s improvement in this particular season.

Sure, Anthony seems to be forcing things a little less, but he’s also playing for a coach he relates to better with a supporting cast that’s making a lot more shots, and nothing he’s been doing would be unrecognizable to anyone whose followed most of his career.

None of which is meant to be a criticism. I think Anthony’s always been a pretty great player, albeit one whose reputation sometimes leads folks to think he should be winning all by himself. I think the idea that he was just a selfish gunner all these years is ultimately just as flawed as the notion he’s now morphed into a mature, team-oriented leader of men.

The truth lies probably somewhere in between, and it suits this team just fine.

Follow Brian on Twitter