With the Knicks holding on to a 92-90 lead over the Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on a Saturday night in May, Carmelo Anthony had a chance to dunk and extend the lead to four. Instead, blocked shot by Roy Hibbert, and the Pacers went on an 11-2 run, rallying them to a 106-99 victory over the Knicks in winning the second-round series.
That summed up Anthony era as a Knick right there. That was the best it got for him. He had three turnovers and two missed shots after that block shot by Hibbert, and the Knicks never recovered from it. Since then, the Knicks and their star had four losing seasons, four coaches and two president of basketball operations. The constant was Anthony despite all the losing.
It was time for a change for everyone involved. It wasn’t working anymore. Both sides knew it, and the amicable divorce was finalized Saturday afternoon when the Knicks traded Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick.
It didn’t matter what the Knicks received in return. Getting rid of Anthony was an addition by subtraction. This gives the new Knicks front office a much-needed reset in building this team back to excellence. This gives a fresh start for Knicks fans that have been yearning for one in recent years.
For Anthony, it was good for him, too. He gets a chance to play with Russell Westbrook and Paul George in an attempt to win a championship. Plus, he could use a change of scenery after being bogged down by losing in recent seasons.
If he had his way, he would still be a Knick. He decided to accept being traded to Oklahoma City because the Knicks were going to make him feel unwelcome when they begin training camp Monday in Tarrytown. This is a franchise that clearly made it a point not to mention his name when previewing about this year’s team.
Anthony and the Knicks failed each other when all is said and done. The Knicks never went far with him, and they did nothing to build around him. Quite frankly, it was a mistake to acquire him in the first place. He never won much with the Nuggets outside of making one Western Conference final appearance in 2009. He never played defense, and he constantly shot his team out of the game in the fourth quarter.
It’s hard to come up with a good Anthony moment here since there was really none. If the Garden presented him with I’m coming home ceremony in his first game as a Knicks as a favorite moment, what great moment did he really have here?
Throughout his tenure, it was all losing and drama. He will be known as a guy that ended Linsanity, which he was so insecure playing with Jeremy Lin. He resented the Knicks point guard’s success, and he made it a point to diminish his game privately. He led his teammates to revolt against Lin to the point the Knicks guard couldn’t come back as long as he was around. He also couldn’t stand working with Phil Jackson, and vice versa.
It was everyone’s fault but Anthony’s. It got old. The Knicks became unwatchable and unlikeable in the years he played here. The fans started catching on to him when the Knicks had their third losing season. They never saw a player who was committed to improving as a basketball player. It was all drama with him.
At the end, everyone was Meloed out.
Anthony was never going to be the same again at 33 years old, especially with him being injury-prone in recent years. His knee has been shot to the point he can’t even score in the paint or make layups. He relies on shooting jumpers, and that’s a risky proposition since he’s an erratic shooter. He wasn’t going to reinvent himself playing defense, either. Basically, he became a useless part of the roster.
The Knicks were never winning with him, so they can lose without him.
History will not remember Anthony fondly. He brought this on himself. The Knicks should also take blame for not creating a good working environment for him to do well. They basically coddled him or rip his game privately rather than coach him.
It’s sad the way this ended. This should have been about Anthony leading the Knicks back to prominence. It never happened. This was a failure all around.
It will be a surprise if Anthony’s jersey is retired in the rafters at Madison Square Garden one day. Not with the way his tenure ended. Not with the way he did not fulfill his promise. Not with having the Knicks finishing 207-269 under him with seven playoff wins and one playoff series win in six years. This is not what the Knicks signed up for when they acquired him.
Instead of victories and celebrations, it turned out to be a tragedy.
It’s over thankfully.