GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Carmelo Anthony had chances to put himself in a better situation to win a championship. His contemporaries from the 2003 Draft class – LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade – all have multiple titles, while he has none.
Joining James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston or Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago would have given Anthony a serious chance to get a ring right away. In New York, he’ll have to wait at least a year before the Knicks clear the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani off their books and have the opportunity to maybe add more top-line talent alongside Anthony. Maybe.
The Knicks, of course, had the ability to offer Anthony a lot more money (via bigger raises and a fifth season) than any other team. That’s what they did. So Anthony stayed in New York.
Was it all about the money? Well, Anthony admits it wasn’t all about basketball and says the decision was “hard.” But, speaking at Knicks Media Day on Monday, he said that it came down to his conscience.
“I made a commitment to stay here in New York,” Anthony said. “I made a commitment to the Knicks’ organization. I made a commitment to Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson. I also made a commitment to my teammates. That right there goes to show you that it wasn’t all about just running, jumping ship, and trying to get something in the immediate future.”
The immediate future in New York offers an opportunity to compete for the playoff spot that the Knicks lost last season. But the ceiling isn’t very high and won’t be unless Jackson makes major changes in the next year.
“I’m willing to be patient,” Anthony said. “How long I’m willing to be patient, I can’t really tell you that. But I’m willing to be patient. I’m willing to take risks. I’m willing to take that chance.”
Anthony wasn’t willing to be patient after seven seasons in Denver, when he made it clear to the Nuggets that he wanted out. He got what he wanted, a February 2011 trade to New York, a transaction that sent a lot of the Knicks’ assets west. So while Anthony has been, by far, the Knicks’ best player in the 3½ seasons since, he felt that he owed the team and its fans more.
“For me to just get up and leave like that,” he said, “I wouldn’t have felt right, within myself. From a basketball standpoint, it probably would have been, maybe, the greatest thing to do. But for me, personally, I wouldn’t have felt right with myself, knowing I wanted to come here. I kind of forced my way to New York and I have some unfinished business to take care of. So I wouldn’t have felt right from a personal standpoint, just getting up and leaving.”
Though he says he can be patient, Anthony also believes the Knicks can improve on last season’s 37-45 record. He said he’s excited to work within the Triangle offense and knows that improvement has to start on D. But he’s not just going to throw this season away.
“I can tell you for sure,” Anthony said, “that we’re going to have a much better season that we had last year.”