Monday, 7 May 2012
THE 'MELO BEFORE THE STORM
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
New York City you can believe in your basketball team again. Just when you thought the front of every Manhattan shop and newsstand t-shirt and banner craziness of Linsanity and New York Knick hype ended with the revelation of the revolutionary Jeremy Lin's injury. Just when you thought the future and color of New York basketball went to Brooklyn with the Nets and those black and white logos. Just when you thought the Knicks playoffs chances where extinguished ever since Amar'e Stoudemire went all Bruce Banner on a fire hydrant. Just when you thought it was over. Carmelo Anthony put his team and his city on his back and broad shoulders.
40 points that's the home court performance Madison Square Garden needed. That's the performance the worlds most famous arena hadn't seen since the sweat boys had to work overtime after Patrick Ewing soaked up the mid-nighties playoff atmosphere. Spike Lee's tweet ("THANK YOU SWEET JESUS. Da Orange And Blue") said it all. Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz's first-born witnessed it all against the King courtside. With an empire state of mind Carmelo threw rocks at the throne, re-intensified the storied Heat/Knicks rivalry and what's more re-ignited the one between him and the leagues best LeBron James.
When LeBron and Carmelo first entered the league in 2003 the Association hyped the rivalry between these two stars. From Syracuse to Denver, Carmelo came college certified. Straight out of high school to Cleveland, LeBron came with a lot of potential and promise as the NBA's next hope. From their respective former cellar dwelling ballclubs changing their uniforms, logos and color schemes in sell-out anticipation neither star disappointed...that is until after taking their old teams to the top, they both demanded to move on in similar fashion. Still now in the bigger markets and stages of Miami and New York their play has never faltered. Still over the years the leagues hype machine has gone from LeBron vs 'Melo to LeBron vs Kobe and the rest of the league, world and the best of all-time.
From billboard moving decisions, to antagonizing adverts LeBron's star power has angered some but his mad game on the basketball floor has touched even more nerves. Haters don't like LeBron when he's angry, as this avenging superhero player and his voltron team are really something to marvel at when they're assembled and ready. Still whether people see LeBron as the hero (that's the one) or villain is beside the point. On his quest for a ring that is right now running through (and for the most part) destroying New York like the Incredible Hulk all eyes are on him.
Still the public eye should not shift from the Knicks Anthony. 'Calm' and 'mellow' may almost be part of his name and his persona may seem laid back but he's anything but. He's no outsider to the Kobe's, LeBron's or the Durant's of the league, no sidekick or sideshow to the Jeremy Lin story. He's at the very least a silent assassin. At the most right up their with the best. Quite simply he's still one of the best players this leagues seen in years.
Last night he answered his critics unquestionably. New York and the rest of the basketball world that this notion is still alive like his teams chances...well at least for one more game. With the crowd behind him and an injured but inspired performance by Stoudemire (a classic and with the injury a somewhat unbelievable 20 and 10) beside him Carmelo Anthony went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the Miami Heat and won...B.I.G. The notorious 'Melo knocked the sweeping broom out of 'Bron's hands and made this all a series. His clutch three with under a minute remaining, to go along with a free throw in under less than half was the dagger that cooled off the Heat and gave the Knicks another stab at this series.
His line of 40 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists drew a 89-87 line under the Knicks unlucky 13 game playoff losing streak and has started up a new run of return and hope. Sure its all on Carmelo and the Knicks on Wednesday night as they face elimination but right now the city of N.Y.C. and its star couldn't be more inspired. Sure they may just go out, but if they do they'll go out with their leader on the frontline battling and pulling no punches. They'll go out fighting. Now that's New York basketball.