It was the smile.
Even throughout these down years with the Knicks — these seasons of Phil Jackson’s triangle and dysfunction trickling from the highest — the grin was by no means removed from Carmelo Anthony.
It gave the viewer the sense, whether or not by way of watching his sport or interacting with him within the locker room, that Anthony actually loved himself. He loved taking part in the game. He loved his teammates. He loved the media. He loved stardom. He loved New York City.
And that’s simpler to root for. It’s simpler to grasp why an athlete on a nine-figure contract would smile. More relatable. So when Anthony was launched at Madison Square Garden throughout Game 2 in opposition to Miami — nearly three weeks earlier than the longer term Hall of Famer introduced his retirement — the sector exploded, as if these followers have been pushing James Dolan by way of vocal drive to retire No. 7. For over six seasons in orange and blue, he spoke to a technology of Knicks supporters with an isolation jumper and a smile.
You hate to pull an individual all the way down to prop any person else up, however the distinction to Julius Randle is simply too stark and related to disregard. Anthony, who formally retired Monday on social media, was the anti-Randle. Not of their video games, which have similarities. But in perspective.
One let the criticism roll off his again. The different, Randle, permits it to seep into his coronary heart. To burrow and nest there. Anthony all the time had a thick pores and skin. He took loads of lumps in New York, typically responding with a sly remark or two. But all the time sporting a smile. Nothing was private.
He stood in entrance of his locker after each sport — after each defeat in the course of the Jackson catastrophe — with an understanding that he’s the chief and spokesperson. Anthony’s friends adored the accountability, amongst different character traits. As I’ve been informed by a number of people who labored for the Knicks throughout Anthony’s time, “With other players, he was the most popular in the NBA. He’ll walk into a room and everybody gravitates. They love him..”
Anthony was additionally fashionable with the media. I began at The Daily News as an NBA beat reporter in 2010, and it felt like my first six years have been consumed by Melo. The introduction was extended commerce negotiations with Denver, an open battle between the Knicks and Nets to accumulate the ability ahead.
In the center of the rollercoaster commerce talks, Anthony sat down with this cub reporter for an unique interview. He was too well mannered to big-time anyone. Years later at MSG, he was aggravated by a query from one other reporter and ditched a scrum early. Within a minute, Anthony returned, apologized, and completed the interview.
Of course, these are the happier recollections of a flawed participant. There are many issues Anthony might’ve carried out in a different way to win extra video games. He might’ve signed with the Knicks in free company moderately than drive the franchise to unload all its belongings in a commerce. Anthony’s contract was somewhat larger due to the maneuver, however the Knicks have been depleted of items to construct a contender round him.
He might’ve embraced taking part in off the ball and even off the bench earlier in his profession. He might’ve higher accepted Jeremy Lin’s stardom. He might’ve dedicated extra to protection.
But you may’t argue with the numbers: Ninth total in profession scoring. Single-game scoring report for the Knicks. NCAA title. Three Olympic gold medals. Award-winning smile.