Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points against Spain Tuesday – 23 in the first half! – during a 100-78 romp in an Olympic tune-up. Knicks fans – at least the ones reaching out to me – were thrilled at Melo’s performance. Look, Melo is playing better than anyone out there! He can be The Man! I’m not sure why so many people were surprised that a guy who has averaged 24.7 points for his NBA career was making open jumpers, but hey, after last week, any news for Melo worshipers is good news.
After writing this about Anthony last week when his Knicks let Jeremy Lin go to Houston, and after sources told Ian O’Connor that Anthony and JR Smith didn’t want Lin, I was besieged by New York fans who said I was a “hater” and “too negative” and being unfair to “one of the 10 best players in the NBA.” (More than one Knicks’ fan emailed me feverishly defending Anthony.)
Well, those New York fans probably want to read this column by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who was in Barcelona for the win over Spain. All of it reinforces what I had been saying during the Lin saga, which is why I thought it might be the “Greatest Carmelo Anthony Column Ever Written”:
For everything that Anthony has given USA Basketball as a talent, he hasn’t always been able to sustain the world-class conditioning, deference on offense and determination on defense. And all these leaders surrounding him … well, they never made him one, too.
No news here, but just a reminder: He’s not a leader. Do not confusing scoring machine – and that’s it – with leadership.
No Olympian needs the cleansing agents of wearing red, white and blue on the way to a gold medal the way that Anthony does. He’s been in the NBA a decade, and yet he didn’t come out of the lockout in great shape. James, Bryant, Kevin Durant – they’d never show for training camp the way Anthony has sometimes.
Melo, how about mixing in a salad or hitting the gym in the offseason?
As a young diva out of Syracuse, Anthony fit perfectly into the knucklehead crew embarrassing themselves on the way to a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Games.
I just thought that was funny.
Anthony was right: He did come out of those  Games and have a tremendous 2008-09 season. Still, the arrival of Chauncey Billups in Denver played an immense part in elevating Anthony and the Nuggets. Billups took over the team’s leadership, which Anthony desperately needed to happen.
Keep this graph in mind of Anthony leads Team USA in scoring. And only apply it to the Knicks if you think Kidd/Felton can channel Billups’ leadership next season.
He had the chance for a beautiful partnership with Jeremy Lin, and it all fell apart with the Houston Rockets’ offer sheet. Because Anthony never wanted Lin, it was probably forever doomed anyway. Lin’s indoctrination to ‘Melo would come watching him ignore the coach’s wishes and running whatever he wanted to run. Anthony and J.R. Smith resented Lin’s attention, his salary, and convinced themselves that Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd can replicate what Lin had going with the Knicks. The rest of the Knicks’ roster loved Lin, wanted him, but Anthony and Smith never had the chance to build a chemistry with him.
Let’s just close on that note. [Yahoo Sports]