It’s not that hard to hate Carmelo Anthony, and if you don’t, it’s natural to feel some sort of distaste for him. He hogs the ball and is selfish, but it isn’t a Russell Westbrook kind of selfishness where you’re just in awe of what a single person can attempt to accomplish in 48 minutes. Instead, he’ll demand a pass on the elbow and then eat up the remaining time on the shot clock with jab steps before he hoists up a contested 20-footer which goes in maybe 30 percent of the time.
He was supposed to be one of the faces of the NBA along with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, but he’s led miserable New York Knicks squads while Wade and LeBron have collected rings. His signature basketball moment may have been dropping 37 points on Nigeria for Team USA at the London Olympics in 2012. Arguably the greatest thing that happened during his tenure with the Knicks was Linsanity, which coincidentally (see: suspiciously) occurred while he wasn’t playing.
So then why do I love Carmelo Anthony?
His isolation game is definitely very aesthetically pleasing (smoothest shooting form in the league by far). But my love for him goes farther than that. I love Carmelo specifically because his career hasn’t been perfect — there have been ups and downs, good decisions and bad decisions. He’s led the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals but also suffered on a 17-65 Knicks team just three years ago. He chose to go home to New York only to waste his prime years on a miserably run franchise (partially his fault). In 2014, he chose a bigger contract on a terrible team over other teams that could contend.
It’s his struggle to find an identity and changing mindset throughout his career that makes me connect with him. After all, we’ve all changed our identity and “life goal” many times, and Carmelo is no different. In Denver, he thought he would be the next face of the NBA. On the Knicks, he wanted to be the savior of basketball in New York. Now in OKC, he just wants to be a champion.
Throughout all his career turmoil he has always been determined to achieve whatever goal he had, failure and critics be damned, and that’s a quality that is rare in NBA superstars (*cough* Kevin Durant *cough*).
Whether or not Carmelo ends up winning a ring for OKC or his next team, I’ll enjoy the ride. Winning a ring after all the ups and downs in his career would be some nice closure and would make a great ending for a cheesy sports movie. But even if he does end up ringless, I will still celebrate his career.
The best part of Carmelo’s career is the very fact that for all its up and downs it may still end in a bitter way. Durant tried to sculpt the perfect career by joining the Warriors, now look at how lovable he is. Maybe I’m just a sucker for losers (Tracy McGrady was my childhood idol), but I think Carmelo deserves to be considered one of the representative players of his generation.