Carmelo Anthony has been hurting for a couple weeks. His knee caused him to miss three games for the New York Knicks, and he struggled in his return against the Golden State Warriors, scoring only 15 points on 4-15 shooting.
Last night, New York took on the Denver Nuggets for the first time since acquiring ‘Melo in the trade that shook the NBA just over two years ago. And, to make a long story short, the Nuggets destroyed the Knicks (117-94).
Anthony was booed every time he touched the ball, and understandably so. He was the one who forced his way out of Denver and into New York, so although Denver fans appreciate what he did for their team, they don’t want someone who didn’t want them.
As Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer, the Knicks seemed to just give in. When Tyson Chandler was helped off the court after suffering a knee contusion, New York seemed lifeless, led by their superstar- Anthony.
When ‘Melo is shooting well and playing in rhythm, the Knicks are one of the NBA’s best teams. When he gives up, however, the rest of the team follows his lead.
That’s exactly what happened last night.
Anthony scored just nine points in 22 minutes, but that isn’t even the problem. During a timeout in the third quarter, New York’s MVP candidate walked into the locker room. He just left. If he was hurting, he should’ve stayed on the bench with his teammates.
“I was just kind of being naïve to myself, just trying to psyche myself out and say, ‘I can do it, I can do it,’” ‘Melo said. “But you just come to a point where you just got to figure it out and get to the bottom of it and move on.’”
That’s fine- it’s completely understandable. Anthony is not Kobe Bryant- nobody expects him to play through pain on a nightly basis. However, he just quit on his team by walking out of the game. Did the fact that the Nuggets were up 70-44 have anything to do with it? Who knows? If Bryant were in Anthony’s position, would he have left or fought harder?
Hopefully the rest of the Knicks won’t follow Anthony’s lead this time by quitting on the team. New York has lost the first two of its five-game road trip, and if the team starts waving the white flag now, they could easily lose control of the Atlantic Division.
Anthony’s injury is now hurting the Knicks in more ways than one. The team desperately needs him on the court, but ‘Melo’s leadership needs to be questioned for New York to have a shot at making a run down the stretch.