Fans love to speculate how a player will be thought of in history. The word legacy gets tossed around; analyzing how a player will be viewed amongst fellow retired players or Hall of Famers, and how their resume stacks up against those around them. Carmelo Anthony is one of the most intriguing cases, or at least could be if he’s sent to the right team. If he isn’t and spends the last of his remaining good years in the cesspool that is New York, then his legacy will forever be a tale of “what if?”
When you think of Carmelo Anthony now, you definitely don’t view him favorably. He’s been viewed as nothing but another disgruntled superstar, who’s washed up and currently wasting away in the irrelevant land known as Madison Square Garden. People don’t view Melo as the man who made eight straight All Star appearances. They view him as the man who gets booed out of his own building by his own fans. Granted you can’t really please fans in New York when your team isn’t winning, but they’ve pushed him to the point where he’s just a pissed off star who isn’t close to being relevant anymore.
Normally, players reach this point towards the end of their career. Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Derrick Rose just to name a few, all had careers littered with All Star appearances. Then they went to New York where their careers went to die. Carmelo’s career may be headed in that direction, but it’s not too late to resurrect what can only be considered a legacy on life support.
The name Carmelo Anthony should be synonymous with a matchup nightmare, a scorer who has so many moves in his arsenal that he couldn’t ever be contained. He’s a 10-time All Star, and has made six All-NBA teams over the course of his career. Instead he’ll be looked at as a superstar who couldn’t carry a team, and had a falling out with two different franchises towards the end of his time there. That’s if his time does end in New York.
Steve Mills doesn’t rule out the possibility of Carmelo returning to New York. As of late last week, Melo was still expecting to be traded.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 17, 2017
There has been a ton of good throughout his career, but the bad, as it always does with NBA stars, sticks out more. Yes, you can say Melo suffered two rough endings with both teams he’s played for thus far, but the thing that stands out the most is his inability to advance in the playoffs. It’ll always stick out more than than time he carried the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals, or how he put New York basketball back on the map by bringing the Knicks their first playoff series win in over a decade. People will just remember how he not only advanced past the first time just twice in his career, but how he never won a ring.
Which is why his prefered destination in Houston.
— NESN (@NESN) July 25, 2017
Carmelo will join the NBA players who had to find success by teaming up with other superstars, but it definitely beats being a star who ended his career with nothing.
Heading to the Rockets may not be the place where he could pull a Kyrie Irving and beg to be the focal point of the offense, but it is his best chance to move further in the playoffs than he ever will in New York. He won’t be the one carrying his team to the Conference Finals or beyond, but he’ll still be remembered for advancing in his career on one of the best offenses in recent memory. He won’t be amongst the washed-up players who went from a necessary double team to a bitter has-been like Dwight Howard. He’ll go back to being one of the better scorers in our generation, an absolute monster in isolation basketball, and one of the most clutch players in basketball.
Basketball is a “what have you done for me lately” sport. When Knick fans, or anybody for that matter, think about Carmelo during his time in New York, they won’t remember the three straight playoff appearances that happened in the Garden for the first time since Patrick Ewing ruled the court. The won’t remember the “Knickstape” era, where he was the scoring champion of the league. They’ll remember the last four seasons where the Knicks couldn’t even reach .500 and finished towards the bottom of the division year after year.
They’ll remember the Carmelo Anthony that not only begged to leave the Knicks, but used his no-trade clause to block their chance of a legitimate run at one of the best young stars available in Kyrie Irving.
— NESN (@NESN) July 26, 2017
That brings up the question, if Carmelo does remain a Knick, how will he be remembered best? Will it be during his time in Denver, or his time in New York? He played only four All Star games as a Nugget, but did bring his team to the Western Conference Finals, something he never did as a Knick. He clearly spent more of his prime years as a Knick, but unlike his time in Denver, it ended with him far away from a top player in the league, and far from the playoffs. If it would end now with him dying in orange and blue, he would’ve alienated himself from both the teams who employed him. That’s not a great recipe for a legacy.
In Houston, he can at least change the narrative. With every star in the NBA looking to team up with someone else, we might as well have the rebirth of a superstar we have completely forgotten about. He’s still been an All Star each year, averaged nearly 24 points, and is still arguably the best scorer in the Eastern Conference.
In Houston, we’ll get a big reminder that he’s still that kind of player, as Melo’s career will rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of his time from New York. Or, he’ll finally be overcome and drowned out by the boos that have been raining down from the rafters of Madison Square Garden.