Amare Stoudemire – not a grown up, hurts his team. Rajon Rondo – bumps a ref, not a grown up…hurts his team. Metta World Mishap – not a grown up, hurts his team. What wins in the NBA playoffs? Grownups! Magic Johnson, Larry Bird – big picture, self-awareness, macro, high IQ players. It’s why most of the great NBA stars – the really transcendent stars, do very well post-basketball! They are smart, they’re grownups!
Yet look at these guys I just mentioned hurting their teams. It’s not about talent, it’s not about the guy on the wing who can drop 30 points – Glen Robinson did that all day and so did Dominque Wilkins, but do you make your teammates better? I feel bad for Amare Stoudemire because he’s been a good solider since he arrived in New York. His game has changed, his knees are shot and he knows it. He played very hard and very well and he changed his game when they didn’t have Melo – it was a bunch of young guys and Amare, he was a good soldier. But what he did Sunday night is why Phoenix tried to bail on him for 3 years and nobody else wanted him. He sees himself as a much better player than what he is and he’s just not in crisis, a grownup!
Yet this league has always been dominated, I’d argue, by guys who get the bigger picture! Magic, Bird, Kobe and not just pure talent. That’s why when I look at the Knicks right now, it’s not the fact that they are down 2-0 because I had predicted that Miami would either sweep this series or win in 5 – it’s really a bad matchup for the Knicks. What really worries me is not what is in the rear view mirror from Sunday night, but what really worries me, if you’re a Knick fan, is what’s in the future. There are guys on this team I like – Jeremy Lin, limited but I like him, Tyson Chandler – limited but I like him, Iman Shumpert, Novak…those are my favourite 4 guys on this roster. Yet everybody buys Melo’s jersey and feeds the delusional ego.
The problem Knick fans, is not that your down 2-0 but rather your future is tied to Melo. Let’s not lecture anybody about basketball because I believe we can all see the truth here – whereas an NFL locker has 65 guys when you count coaches and players, MLB has 25 players, NHL its 23 yet in the NBA its 12 and 7 of them play. So your locker room culture is created by your star. Your star in New York is Melo – he has now defined your basketball culture, that’s the way it works in the NBA. As I’ve said for years on this blog, it’s not about getting a star…but the RIGHT star! Frankly, Melo never has been. The Knicks are 50-50 through 100 games with Melo. When the Denver Nuggets got rid of him? Look up their record; they are winning .600 of their games. The basketball culture always begins and ends with your star! Yet what has Melo created? Isolation “it has to go through me” one on one “I got to get my share”.
What’s the culture of Miami since Lebron arrived? “We play on both ends…we pass…it’s not about anything other than the W” Melo left Denver, Kenyon Martin was quoted as saying to a Denver newspaper “basketball is really fun when you play together” quoting the Denver Post. Melo drops 30…most come too early or too late. But for an eight minute stretch, when the Knicks desperately needed a basket, Melo was invisible! Do you know why? Because with Carmelo, if he’s not scoring, he doesn’t do anything else to help your team – he’s what I’ve termed “fool’s gold” He’s Glen Robinson, he’s T-Mac, he’ll leave with no rings and a hollow legacy because he simply makes nobody else better! If he’s not scoring, he’s snoring!
Not with Lebron James though because when #6 is on the floor, he doesn’t have to score a single point – everybody is better! He’s unbelievable in transition, he’s unbelievable defensively, and he’s an unbelievable passer. So it’s not that you trail 2-0 but that your future is tied – make it handcuffed, to a guy who scores and nothing else! Only because he sells the most jerseys – well Jeremy Lin does actually, but because he sells a lot of jerseys and is the highest paid player on the team and because everyone loves and cheers Melo’s jumpers, that’s what you’re tied to for the next couple of years, that is what’s frustrating! You were never going to win this series – that was ridiculous! It’s a terrible match-up for the Knicks.
Amare Stoudemire is easy to clobber today but his game is now limited, you and I know that. But unfortunately both Melo and Amare, their basketball self-esteem is tied to points and not wins. Tim Legler talked about that on the Mike & Mike show Monday morning saying “I could see the frustration building within Amare Stoudemire throughout the course of the game. He had 9 shots on the stat sheet, yet he only had 5 when the game was still hanging in the balance. The rest of those came meaningless at the end of the game. So really 5 shots in 30+ minutes of action means he was totally uninvolved in what they were doing offensively. As a result, I didn’t see him really being really motivated on the boards or running the floor either”
Their self –esteem in basketball is totally tied to them scoring points. First you blamed D’Antoni, now you blame Mike Woodson, how about looking at the delusional superstar! Who thinks he’s every bit as Lebron – he really does! Melo wakes up this morning and thinks “I got my 30 points, how many did Lebron get? I’m doing my part…” yeah but the problem is, nobody else gets involved. Melo makes Melo better, he doesn’t make teammates better and he doesn’t make the team better. Lebron makes everybody better, it’s not about getting a star in this league, and it’s about getting the RIGHT star!