Giving Melo in NY the benefit of the doubt

VIDEO: Knicks welcome back Carmelo Anthony

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — It’s time to cut Carmelo Anthony some slack and stop cynically scoffing at his return to the New York Knicks as being, perceptually anyway, for no greater reason than to gobble the millions of dollars other teams couldn’t give him.

If we’re going to lather such thick praise upon LeBron James for the heartfelt letter as he told it to Sports Illustrated in which he was clear his return to Cleveland was more about the tug of his hometown and his family’s happiness there than his immediate quest to collect championships, then why can’t we be equally happy for Anthony for choosing the place he and his family feel most at home?

That the Knicks could offer more money, by rule of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, than the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers or any other team, is completely out of Anthony’s control. The $30 million or so more that he could earn in New York (Anthony signed for $124 million, about $6 million less than the max), plus getting a fifth year as opposed to a maximum of four years anywhere else, are both worthy enticements to return, just as they are meant to be.

But what if Anthony’s love for the city, where he spent his early years and where his wife LaLa grew up, and his son calls home, was his true calling? What if his desire to one day bring a championship to the long-struggling franchise, just like the one in Cleveland that James so admirably wants to lift up, was Anthony’s deeper motivation for re-signing?

Anthony, like James, talked about his family’s happiness in an interview with VICE Sports before his free agency tour of Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles began:

“The average person just sees the opportunity to say, ‘Melo should go here, Melo should go there.’ But they don’t take into consideration the family aspect of it, your livelihood, where you’re going to be living. Do you want your kids to grow up in that place? Do I want to spend the rest of my career in that situation, in that city?

“My son goes to school and loves it here (in New York). To take him out and take him somewhere else, he would have to learn that system all over again. I know how hard it was for me when I moved from New York to Baltimore at a young age, having to work your way to try to make new friends and fit in and figure out the culture in that area.”

I can hear the scoffing from here. But why are James’ intentions viewed as pure, while Anthony’s as only greedy?

I understand. You don’t have to be John Hollinger to recognize that adding Anthony as the missing, high-scoring wing to the Bulls, with coach Tom Thibodeau‘s defensive philosophy stamped all over the club, with Joakim Noah as the fiery, emotional leader and former league MVP Derrick Rose returning, would mean big, big trouble in the Eastern Conference.

It seemed a natural fit. Of course, the Bulls, by virtue of the CBA and their own cap situation, could only offer Anthony around $75 million. That’s significantly less money than his New York deal and one likely any rational human being, or businessman, wouldn’t consider for long.

But because this is basketball and not a Fortune 500 company, we want Melo to take less and go to the Bulls because it just makes too much basketball sense. And clearly it seems Anthony grappled with the decision.

He knew he could join an instant contender in Chicago, while the 2014-15 campaign in New York will be a learning one with rookie coach in Derek Fisher and an incomplete roster. Reaching .500 would seem a realistic goal.

But what if Anthony decided to stick with the team that unloaded a package of talented players in the trade to get him out of Denver just three years ago? What if Anthony decided to trust in new president Phil Jackson — the franchise’s first respected voice of authority in years — and give him a chance to assemble a roster in 2015 and 2016 when for the first time under this CBA, the club will boast cap space?

What if the money wasn’t the overriding factor, and visions of becoming the first Knick to hoist the championship trophy since, well, a much younger Jackson in 1973? And how much more meaningful it would be to do it in New York than anywhere else (just as LeBron said about Cleveland)?

Again, I hear the scoffing.

Maybe in the end, the money really was the only thing that mattered.

But just maybe, at age 30 and with a family, and understanding his legacy is far from complete in the game, Anthony embraced the bigger picture, the greater challenge ahead in New York, the city he and his family call home.

Maybe, like LeBron’s sentimental decision we ate up, Anthony’s, too, came from his heart; the extra wallet padding only New York could provide being nothing more than a bonus.

Stop scoffing.


  1. @ mee(a)t

    I don’t think that Manu-Parker-Duncan is even the Spurs Big Three. I think their Big Three is Leonard-Parker-Duncan.

  2. Cash says:

    Why doesn’t nobody say anything about amare or bargnani who both had options to opt out but did not. They could have both took a paycut signed for a 1 year deal for what there worth not what they are getting now. But it’s only melo who is playing for money right smh

    • Vern says:

      Stoudemire wont ever get another big contract from any team so I don’t blame him a bit for taking his money. Due to all his injury issues his next contract might be for the veterans minimum.

  3. Sunil says:

    Everyone needs to stop with he took more money. If that’s what his agent convinced him of then his agent is the ultimate scammer. First there is the discrepancy between ill and ny tax. Second is he did not need to take a max deal FOR FIVE YEARS. If he was smart he would have followed Lebron and only done a two year deal then re-up at a max extension after that new media deal for an even larger per year that Chicago could have had room for. This would have also given him more flexibility and control of his future. So in reality melo probably gave up 10-15 million if u crunch the numbers with the above considered over the couple years. That money he would EASILY make up with JORDAN Brand here in Chicago, easily. Plus there is also more endorsements and net money that gos with being a winner which he could have really had a shot at here. By not being able to sign a new deal after the media deal he actually LOST money overall. He coulda used the same 2year strategy with NY. Melo is a fool and will likely end as a scoring star with no titles, Knicks are far away, likely farther than his current “long” foolish contract he signed.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I am a life-long Knick fan, and like watching Melo, have since his days at Syracuse, so I am notably biased but…I think Melo along with really liking money as most do is definitely interested in championships. I think many are sugarcoating the odds of his other suitors with him. I think the D. Rose health situation (not to mention potential personality conflict) in Chicago is volatile enough that a pay cut certainly wasn’t worth the difference in a shot at a championship there. We don’t know the Gasol contract would have worked with Melo’s contract eating up money. Unless Kobe’s new sports drink is actually liquid from the fountain of youth, the Lakers aren’t very stacked and his contract makes L.A. as crippled for cap space as the Knicks at best. On paper I liked Houston as a move but something smells with front office after they couldn’t land Melo or Bosh. I think hoping for Phil and Fisher to pay off as team leadership at least even money on those options. While I would have loved to see him leave more money on the table for the NYK to work with, but next year you’re still stuck on cap space as long as you have Stoud and Bargs so it’d be really easy to keep the money when you can’t see leaving it out there increasing your odds.

  5. Sox fan says:

    I have no problems with Melo staying in New York. But he knew the limitations of his suitors before his World Tour. The newsworthy event would have been Melo walking away from all that money and signing elsewhere.
    Ironically, it would have been a seminal moment in sports history had he walked away. And very likely he would have pursued by big corporate sponsorships. His brand would have skyrocketed.
    He would more than made up the gap in salary and had stayed in the public eye in his pursuit of a championship likely with the Bulls.

  6. Marcus Anderson says:

    Another idiotic article written by an idiot which makes no sense. Melo has no heart. He took the money, Period! (Which I’m not mad at) Stop making these stupid excuses.

  7. Unkle Daddy says:

    Let’s get something straight first, the Bulls even with Melo aren’t contending for anything. The Knicks have as much if not more “talent” then most teams, but what they don’t have is any leader ship of that talent from a player stand point, Anthony is not a leader, if he is the best player on your team, your team is in trouble. Second, from a sociological stand point people don’t like Melo like they do LBJ. People just gravitate to him, some love him so much, that they hate him. Melo doesn’t create those feelings inside people. I’ll explain it this way Charles Barkley left teams a few times to chase a title and people where upset, but not like they would have been if Michael left the Bulls in his prime. A cities love vs. the worlds love.

    • Sox fan says:

      The Bulls have leaders.
      We weren”t looking for General MacArthur.
      He would have been a hired offensive gun.
      And a very wealthy once corporate got a hold of him. He will be always be tormented by what if?

  8. vern says:

    This is about the first time I’ve seen a journalist see both sides of a Carmelo subject. Of course the money had a lot to do with it but I do believe he made the decision with a combination of family and truly wanting to be in NY. When he first said he’d opt out he also said he would resign with NY but he just wanted to get the feel of free agency. The media was the ones that made it into a “go here go there” situation.
    With so many Melo haters around it almost feels strange when a sports writer gives him the benefit of doubt.

  9. jr says:

    Guy under me is a moron Phil is not the coach Fisher is

  10. willie will says:

    I honestly feel like Carmelo stayed with New York cause he really believe in Phil and D-Fish. The talent they have in New York really is crazy. With the leadership from Phil to fish coaching melo into someone Kobe or Jordan. Not saying my favorite player melo would be better than Jordan or Kobe but giving the idea Phil made them two players two of the greatest players in the game make you feel like how can he not do the same with melo. It makes too much sense. Melo is the best scorer in the game and could play good D put in the situation as where he has a second third or fourth option on the other end of the court. This year will be a start to melo becoming a champion. It starts with Phil and team he got.

    • Hammertime says:

      Actually, LBJ and KD are better scorers. Moreover, half the league plays better defense than Melo. He is a great scorer, no question about it, but not the best scorer in the league and he is not a good defender. Very happy he got paid his market value though. The Knicks have to build around him, but they have a ways to go.

      • Cash says:

        That comment is pure nonsense. Melo actually plays very good defense when he’s playing somebody that is a all star player or somebody with good enough talent that actually makes him want to play. And saying that lebron is a better scorer is just foolishness

      • Vern says:

        LBJ is a better all around player but he’s not a better scorer than Carmelo.
        As far as defense, he can play defense.
        He’ll never be a top defensive ace but he plays as good a defense as most do in the league that aren’t known for just defense.

    • Carlo says:

      ‘Melo could play a good D?

      Yes. He could. Only, he never did. He was a defensive liability and Tyson was surely tired to keep fouling opponents just to cover ‘Melo’s a$$.

  11. harrythehawk says:

    Im not faulting Carmello Anthony for staying close to home and settling for mediocrity. I and others do it all the time for our families. It’s more important than anything. But what I’m not looking forward to is his sad looking mug when he loses games or doesn’t make playoffs. He said he wanted to be a free agent so he could WIN!! Don’t complain! Your team still stinks!

  12. See red says:

    He’ll never win a ring

  13. thespectator says:

    at the end of the day, dont matter what team goes to the finals from the east, no one..i repeat NO ONE is good enough to beat san antonio in a 7 game series..pop is a basketball genius..he can take any player and make them play at their highest level…on top of that resting 30 something year olds throughout the season..the big 3 still put in work against these young kids..lets face it…until timmy retires..spurs will keep wining now that the heat are done..heat were the only legit team that coulda possibly beat the spurs from the east but even they got destroyed..the larry o brien will be stayin in the west for at least this upcoming season.

    • aces says:

      All you knew spurs fans make me sick. You guys are the same ones that were saying they’re old for the past 5 yrs and now all of a sudden, they’re unbeatable? Jus because they dismantled the heat who were tired from going to the finals 4 straight years and their 2nd best player was not health and let’s face it, miami was gonna struggle to get out of the 1st or 2nd rd in the west.

      Don’t forget Mavs almost beat them in the 1st rd and the Thunder series coulda turned out differently if ibaka was healthy and played every game.

      Plus, tell me the last time the Spurs won back to back?

    • Jon dame says:

      Until KD signs with the Knicks !!!! And Phil build his team you mean ? It was Phil Jackson that didn’t allow San Antonio to make it out west ? It will happen again

    • Watt says:

      Man I know yall are not hyping the Spurs and that so called championship that was given to them this year. Please Vegas gave them that chip so Duncan can go home.

  14. taekayo says:

    LBJ “just going home”? Please. Cleveland had 3 #1 picks after him. Cleveland now has talent, and LBJ wants that to win. If he can’t wait, they can trade these top picks for other star players in their prime. LBJ has figured that out. DWade’s knees are not holding, and Bosh ain’t improving around him. He knows the Heat will just be in the playoff mix but won’t win another ring. It was still about winning rings for LBJ. The letter he made means nothing.

  15. 'Melo says:

    Hey, you! How can you doubt my motivation?

    Don’t you know? “Home is where your wallet is”!

    Eh? What? Just a moment please. Ok. Ehm… My agent’s telling me that the correct spelling is “Home is where your HEART is”.
    Oh, sh.t! After all, they’re pretty close, eh?

  16. Carlo says:

    Wow! Why doubting Anthony’s willingness to sacrifice for Knicks’ benefit? He accepted a HUGE pay reduction of 6 out of 129 M$.
    That’s about a 4.5% discount!
    Don’t you see how many top free agents Knicks could hire with that amount?

  17. Kobe-Nash-Lakers says:

    You are also right Francois..

  18. Kobe-Nash-Lakers says:

    You are very right there Patrick..

  19. Carmelo has every right to do what he wants to do. Guy is still easily a top 10 player in the league and can score at will. They will get more flexibility when their big contracts come off and Carmelo just wants to play for his hometown. I don’t know about the coach though. What can D Fish do???

  20. He went back for the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. No question about it. Why Not>>> Makes sense..

  21. Patrick says:

    Anthony is still a punk and will always be a punk. He will NEVER be on an NBA championship team because obviously if he took less money, in NY, then maybe they might get some other high caliber players. So, uh, yeah, he loves NY but obviously is oblivious to winning it all. Anthony will be long gone into retirement before there is any Championship trophy in NY.

    • Robert White says:

      Its about the years to come players get pay increases and him taking a pay cut allows another 5 million or so for nxt year they can sign another big free agent in the year 2016 phil came up with the idea

      • Carlo says:

        IF they will sign another “big” free agent, it will be thanks to the money saved by Amare’s and Bargnani’s contracts. Surely not thanks to those measly 5M.

  22. TheKush says:

    New York media is demonic in nature if I was Melo I would NEVER take a pay shave in NYC! He takes less money and the media is still putting him down. Shout outs to Chris Bosh make those owners pay you MAX MONEY for your services! Melo signed the contract already and writers instead of criticizing his play are talking about Melo’s beautiful wife Lala! smh!

    • Hammertime says:

      I think it’s the amount he took. 5 or 6 million over 5 years is almost nothing. If he says he wants to win, AND win in NY then he needed to give up more money for the Knicks to have flexibility.

  23. Max says:

    Melo was out entertaining ever well know team, if he wanted to stay in N.Y. Then why was he seen checking so many other teams? LeBron went away for a vacation, came back & said I just really want to go HOME! NO comparison between the two players!

    • Carlo says:


    • Carlo says:

      Well, maybe it took him so much time to check and count all those banknotes.

    • T Casey says:

      Stupid comment. Last I checked, there’s no such thing as a 4 year vacation. Lebron entertained a bunch of different offers a few years ago as well and actually left his home team. Thrn only came back after 2 champipnships later and it being clear that his team wqs in decline.

      Melo entertained offers and decided to stay. Maybe for the money, maybe for tye promise of the franchise that they could put together a winner, or likely a bit of both.

      But if your point is that one player is more dedicated and loyal to their home team, your talking complete nonsense. No way you forgot “The Decision.”

    • aces says:

      Lebron’s agent met with dallas, suns, lakers, heat and cavs…that looks like entertaining other teams to me

  24. Francois says:

    If Anthony was really interested in winning and winning with the Knicks he would have signed for less money. If he was almost willing to accept 80M from Chicago why not accept something close to that from NY (20M per year). This would have left the Knicks in a far greater position in the coming years. If he was really interested in winning he wouldn’t have had the Knicks give up half their team the first time around. He wouldn’t have force the trade and would have signed with them as a free agent. I was never a Melo fan but he has tried over the past two years, last year especially to alter his game and become more of a team player. Of course it’s very easy for any of us to say leave 20/30 M on the table. I’m not sure I could do it either.

  25. YungMussuBlack says:

    They gotta change the music venue.

  26. celentano says:

    The knicks gonna be probaly a eastern conference finalist maybe,but if they reach the nba finals against San Antonio it’s a no brainer 4 wins sweep for SA! Eastern conf.gonna be better balanced that’s for sure.

  27. Andy Johansen says:

    No, not buying this. Melo clearly went back to the Knicks because they could offer him the extra year and the maximum amount of money. It could be spun that he’s buying into P Jax’s vision for the team, he respects Derek Fisher, whatever you need to tell yourself. Carmelo Anthony is an egotistical maniac that does not care about winning. He wants to make money and shoot the ball. And he’s perfectly allowed to do that, but don’t sugarcoat it. It is what it is.

    • allaroundballer says:

      Yeah, also players don’t see any big three as a champ guarantee anymore. Last finals mean a lot. The trend is changing. Now I’m sure Durant n Westbrook will not leave OKC

      • mee(a)t says:

        Manu-Parker-Duncan is not a big 3 to you?

      • Carlo says:

        @ mee(a)t

        No. If you look at how the players are rotated, you’ll see that Spurs do not rely on them like the Heat relied on LJ/DW/CB (or Boston on KG/RA/PP, etc.)

        “Big 3” concept applies when, if you miss one of them you have it for granted you loose the game.