Carmelo Anthony Is Dropping Clues He’s Done With The Knicks
Being the marquee superstar of a New York City sports franchise is a dubious distinction. On one hand, you have unchallenged power as the most popular jock in the coolest city on the planet, which means you get VIP status at the best clubs, free meals the best restaurants, BFF necklaces with the biggest celebrities and the option to sleep with all the cheerleaders whenever you feel like it. Hooray! The flipside, however, is that you're held accountable for winning every single game you play in, which is impossible, so you move into a soundproof bubble to protect yourself from the near constant criticism for not winning a title every season.
When you play for the Yankees, that life isn't so bad (because you're always on a good team). When you play for the Giants, that life is markedly worse but still pretty damn good (because you go 6-10 when you're not winning Super Bowls). When you play for the Knicks (who have sucked since antibiotics were invented), that life is an ultra-marathon up shit mountain. God bless Carmelo Anthony for having the nerve to join the NBA's most dysfunctional, snakebitten franchise in the country's most brutal media market. The poor guy has been made a scapegoat for the team's lack of success, which is unfair, because it's hardly his fault and he's really good at his job. But Melo has handled the role of New York basketball savior with an impressive amount of grace, restraining himself from screaming "fuck this noise" at the top of his lungs 24 hours a day.
His composure in the face of failure and unwarranted scrutiny has been interpreted to mean one of several things, namely, apathy, but also, an abundance of emotional strength. Maybe he's just good at avoiding newspaper stands -- who knows why he's so good at coping with his objectively shitty predicament?
Whatever the case, it appears that his equanimity (thank you, Thesaurus) is starting to crack, because he's no longer responding to adversity with the diplomatic responses we've consistently seen over the last four years.
"Anything that happens in New York, I get blamed for," Carmelo said.
— Scott Cacciola (@ScottCacciola) March 3, 2016
In case you missed it, a fan at Madison Square Garden was heard shouting to Carmelo that he's never coming to another game again (after a blowout loss to the Portland Trailblazers, mind you), to which Melo responded by pointing at Knicks owner James Dolan, saying, "Take that up with him, maybe you can get your money back." Undoubtedly a jab at Dolan, who's largely responsible for everything wrong with the franchise yet notoriously reluctant to accept responsibility for anything, Melo was then forced to apologize for his retort to the disgruntled fan.
We know this because Melo explicitly told the media that Dolan made him apologize. Wham -- count that as yet another jab at his employer (and yet another sign that Carmelo is hemorrhaging patience).
Carmelo said "the Knicks" prompted him to release the statement about fan exchange. Then added it was "mr. Dolan's decision" to release it.
— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) March 3, 2016
Despite having repeatedly said "I WANT TO WIN IN NEW YORK" and shown a surprising willingness to change his game for the better of the team (he passes and rebounds now!), it'd be naive to think that he's still married to that no-trade clause chiseled into his five-year max contract.
In the event the Knicks don't upgrade during this summer's free agency period -- which has a dearth of impact players who've expressed interest in coming to New York -- I would not be surprised if he gives Phil Jackson the green light to send him elsewhere. Trading Melo would certainly help the Knicks secure a lottery pick next season, which obviously fits into their tentative rebuild around Melo's 20-year-old Latvian successor, but more importantly for Carmelo, leaving for greener pastures (think Clippers or Cavaliers) dramatically improves his chances at winning more than 30 basketball games a year.
It also makes his life a hell of alot easier, and at 32 years old, he'd probably prefer less bullshit -- even if it means giving up on the dream he's clung to since 2010. Who would blame him? Waving his no-trade clause would be the logical next step on the prototypical New York story timeline: ambitious twenty-something comes seeking unimaginable fame and fortune, slaves away for a few years, realizes that dream was impossible, leaves for L.A. because the stress and the weather and their shithead boss is crushing their soul. He's basically a cocaine problem away from being 99% of the people chewed up and spit out by that city.
Face it, Carmelo is white-knuckling his way through this mess and he clearly can't do it much longer -- nor can Knicks fans. Luckily, his breaking point means something for both to smile about for once. But if there ever was an indication someone wants off of the Knicks, it's a series of subtle slights at that pugnacious little twerp who writes their checks. That man has no patience for insubordination and he's always had his finger hovering over the button that opens the trapdoor under the chairs of his disgruntled employees.
What's worse, Dolan has returned to his judgey little perch on the baseline, adjacent to the Knicks' bench -- a seat he hadn't occupied since Phil Jackson came to town. Leering at his players, judging, stroking his stupid little beard as if he's thinking about something -- you could cut the tension with a knife. What a fantastic work environment, right? Melo doesn't want that garbage and neither should anyone else.
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