With it becoming more obvious by the day that Carmelo Anthony will indeed opt out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks, it is also becoming easier to question his decision to force his way out of Denver three short years ago.
Of course the trend in the NBA at that time, and in many ways continues to be, centralizing talent in major markets. There is no doubt that Carmelo thought he was going to become the king of Gotham, but it definitely hasn’t played out that way. In fact, it seems like he is on the verge of becoming the face of villainy for the largest market in the United States.
So, what went wrong? Well to start, the Knicks decimated much of their core talent in order to land Melo. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Timofey Mozgov were all shipped to the Nuggets, and at the time those four players represented much of the core talent on that team.
Combine that with the fact that Carmelo Anthony commanded such a high salary, it was very difficult to replenish the relatively inexpensive talent that departed in the trade that sent him to New York. And, as we have all learned, Melo needs to be surrounded with good players in order to be successful. He is not the type of player that can single-handedly take a team to the next level. As a result, Melo has spent his time in New York surrounded by the likes of Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, and Amar’e Stoudemire, which of course is incredible, if it was 2003.
There’s no way to be certain, but it would be a wise bet to think that Anthony is discouraged by his time in The Big Apple. All of his visions of grandeur, and domination have vanished quicker than Dwyane Wade’s muscle tone.
And so I can’t help but reflect, and wonder if he would have better off just staying put in the Mile High City. Nobody will ever surpass John Elway for the crown, but Anthony was certainly rising up the ranks, and making a case for a clear second place.
Frankly, Carmelo Anthony could have owned this city, and yet he was too persuaded by his thirst for the limelight, and LaLa’s distaste for Denver. I mean, if she can live here, she can live anywhere right? Give me a break.
Was it his desire for power that influenced his departure? Sure he has increased his endorsement revenue, which means that he has probably become a more recognizable figure from a global perspective, but in terms of tangible impact to his net worth, you may have to look a bit deeper. He is now averaging about $9 million per year in endorsements, which is impressive, but he was already receiving about $6 million per year while in Denver.
If he was all about the monetary incentives, he could have been much better leveraging his name, a name the people of Denver knew and loved, for other financial ventures. Take John Elway for instance, who still owns a small number of car dealerships throughout Colorado and California, but who sold most of the dealerships to AutoNation back in 1997 for $82.5 million. Not to mention the revenue he earned year-over-year while he still owned those dealerships.
Not a bad chunk of change right? So his decision to leave shouldn’t have been motivated by finances alone.
So what else is there? Love and adoration? There is a reason that Patrick Ewing is really the only NBA player that comes up in the discussion of most beloved New York athletes. It takes a lot to get into the hearts of the people of that city, and Carmelo certainly wasn’t set up for the success required to puncture that hardened surface.
So, why take that risk? Would you rather be clearly one of a city’s most endeared player of all-time, even if that city is Denver (LaLa)? Or would you rather have to compete with the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Mark Messier, Joe DiMaggio, and Lawrence Taylor for a city’s love? You know as well as I do, that those walls are hard, if not impossible to crack.
And finally, there is the question of winning, which is what is all about, isn’t it? Obviously it is impossible to predict what the Nuggets would have been like if Carmelo Anthony had stayed, but clearly they wouldn’t have been any worse than the Knicks.
When Anthony left, the Nuggets had been to the playoffs seven straight times, and were well on their way to an eighth straight appearance, which they still did even with almost an entirely new team. The Nuggets would of course also go on to make the playoffs the next two years as well on their way to 10 straight appearances. And all of this within the Western Conference, which has been unquestionably superior for some time now. Hard to imagine that the Nuggets would have been any less successful than they were with a player as skilled as Carmelo on the roster.
In fact, with the right mix of players, the Nuggets proved to be a contender in the 2008-2009 season, in which they made it to the Western Conference Finals, and gave the eventual champion Lakers all they could handle before eliminated the Nuggets in six games.
I can’t pretend to truly understand someone’s motives, although I often try. I can’t deny the power and influence someone’s wife can have on their decisions. I can’t even say I was ever mad at Melo for leaving. But, what I do know is that he missed out on an opportunity that few athletes are presented with. To have the undying and unconditional love of an entire city. To truly enter into the hearts and minds of a community, and to make an impact on their lives. And to be omnipresent in the lore of that city for as long as it stands.
Carmelo Anthony Toyota. It has a ring to it right? I’m out.
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