Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Carmelo Anthony Is Playing New York’s Most Dangerous Game

I don’t believe the Knicks will win tonight’s game against the Mavericks. This isn’t, necessarily, surprising; the Mavericks are the defending champions, and the Knicks have been up-and-down. But the more I think about why I don’t feel good about tonight’s game, the more I keep getting back to the differences between Dirk and Melo as the leaders of their respective teams.

Both the Mavericks and the Knicks are coming off of what should have been extraordinarily disappointing losses against quality opponents. Each had erased a second-half deficit of some magnitude to reclaim the lead. Each had chances to close out the game. Each had failed to do so. The Mavericks’ loss to Oklahoma City included Jason Terry calling his own number instead of getting the ball to the appropriate Alemanian, prompting this, um, somewhat-less-than-pleased reaction from Mr. Novitzski.

Carmelo Anthony, on the other hand, had taken the last shot for his team in regulation, a potential historic buzzer-beater against the Boston Celtics, and missed. His team failed to prevail against the  Celtics- which, it seems worth repeating, are from Boston- and yet his reaction was decidedly less upset. As Marc Berman of the NY Post reported, Anthony post-loss was able to remark “Games like that are fun. It’s more exciting and more of a thrill if we won the game. But it happens and we move on.”

…….

Look, my views on this subject are admittedly influenced by my own competitive nature. And as I noted in my lockout-analysis of why we love the NBA, players are largely correct when they understand that basketball is just a game. But, as I also noted, if the players don’t at least maintain the façade that the games really matter, fans are going to get pissed off. This is especially true of New Yorkers, and even more true of anything having to do with the New York-Boston rivalry. And so Melo seemingly shrugging off the loss, in addition to the easy manner the Knicks displayed as they hugged it out with the Celtics, makes me pretty frustrated.

The main problem with the reaction, if one is inclined to support the Knicks, is that such behavior appears to be the opposite of how leaders of previous championship teams would have acted. Can you imagine MJ missing a game winning shot, and then saying “the game was fun?” Dirk? Kobe? Tim Duncan? Going further back, Larry Bird? And I don’t care if you think Pierce or KG was more important to the Celtics title in ’08; neither was going to laugh off that loss.

The problem is not that Melo is slacking on the court; there were several moments where his effort was unquestionably on display, such as when he fought for a rebound off three or four consecutive misses. He also hit a number of shots for the Knicks in the last few minutes of the game, displaying once more why he can be a great option in the clutch. I didn’t love the play at the end of the game (you should get a better shot off when you have over four seconds left on the clock,) but I didn’t have a problem with Melo shooting the ball, or with his missing the shot. The potential issue is that his demeanor post-loss indicates that losing doesn’t bother him in the way that history indicates it would have to for him to be (or become) a top-flight player. Melo’s demeanor didn’t help Paul Pierce make a ridiculous three-pointer, or cause him to miss his game-winner, but it may be preventing the team from establishing the sort of culture in the locker room required for the Knicks to reach real success. And, those on Twitter who stepped forward to defend him aside, making light of a loss doesn’t play well in this city. Especially not when that loss is to Boston.

Which is why I fervidly hope that the laughter is merely Melo’s way of shielding his interior frustration about the loss. Since he was young his coaches have always noted his competitive desire, making his comments yesterday that much more befuddling. Saying the game was fun is acceptable only if, on the inside, he was thinking “I will absolutely destroy you, Paul Pierce, next time we play.”

Anyone who has watched Dirk knows that the Mavericks will come out angry tonight. Not only did they just lose a close game, they lost to the Knicks the last time the two played, and I guarantee no player on the Mavericks has forgotten the role they played in Linsanity. If the Knicks don’t match that intensity, especially coming off a tough loss of their own, it will only create more doubt about the players leading the team. This is a chance for Melo to prove my doubts incorrect. I sincerely hope that they are.

71 comments on “Carmelo Anthony Is Playing New York’s Most Dangerous Game

  1. Thomas B.

    Uh huh. I never understood in sports why getting mad is how we decide whether a player cares about losing. Other than the time he sucker punched Mardy Collins, I can’t recall ever seeing Anthony get upset. Maybe that is why they call him Melo.

    Confidence is a strange thing. Sure you get mad when you don;t get your shot, as Dirk did. But you can’t beat yourself up for not hitting a difficult running jumper as time expires. I did not expect Anthony to have a fit. I’m just glad he got the ball.

    I’m going to judge him based on whether he can get it done, not based on how he reacts to not getting it done. I’d like to see a win tonight.

  2. jon abbey

    not crazy about the specifics cited here, but I think the general point is accurate and important: I don’t believe Melo has the same drive to win as the very top players in the league.

  3. ruruland

    Is this a joke?

    Seriously, is it?

    The analysis is bereft of any historical context for how Melo or Dirk react to losses, as if it’s material anyway.

    Quite startling, really.

    Does this mean I need to go back and post the news stories of how Melo sat in in the locker room hours beyond everyone else after previous playoff losses? How he was clearly the one most visibly affected by those stinging defeats?

    Do I need to attach links to the many columnists and pundits saying that Dirk was soft and lacked competitive fire after the many early-playoff exits his team had, drawing the wrath of the same kind of armchair psychologists who concluded that Dirk’s para-langaguage and tone weren’t commensurate with a “true champion.”

    Really disappointed this was posted, especially given the abundance of impulsively caustic and interminably puerile journalists that cover the team.

  4. jon abbey

    Thomas, I agree with you about reactions and could care less what people say to the media, but I think the lack of drive to be the very very best is evident in his game. Dirk, Rose, Kobe, Duncan, Garnett: these guys are always in fourth gear, always trying to improve their game and make better decisions. I don’t think Melo has that same drive.

  5. critgeog

    Isn’t this the exact kind of New York Post like column that Knickerblogger is supposed to counteract? Body language analysis? Does anyone really think Melo didn’t care about winning that game? Give me a break. He was the reason they took the lead in that game. So he missed a game winner with a very high level of difficulty. Of course Melo is an incomplete player and not above criticism but when we get into analyzing post-game interviews and body language I am out. I’ll go read Marc Berman or Lupica if I want this kind of take.

  6. xcat01

    Going back to that last play, I wonder how much was Melo trying to prove “I am the guy who takes the big shot” as opposed to I will do whatever it takes to win. I say this because when that shot went up, Novak was wide wide wide open and as hot as he has been lately, the logically play would have been for Melo to give up the ball in that instance, for the good of the team.

  7. ruruland

    Thomas B.:
    Uh huh. I never understood in sports why getting mad is how we decide whether a player cares about losing.Other than the time he sucker punched Mardy Collins, I can’t recall ever seeing Anthony get upset.Maybe that is why they call him Melo.

    Confidence is a strange thing.Sure you get mad when you don;t get your shot, as Dirk did.But you can’t beat yourself up for not hitting a difficult running jumper as time expires.I did not expect Anthony to have a fit. I’m just glad he got the ball.

    I’m going to judge him based on whether he can get it done, not based on how he reacts to not getting it done.I’d like to see a win tonight.

    Melo is consistently among the league leaders in technical fouls. Early in his career, he had a very difficult time managing his emotions. Anyone who followed the western conference a few years ago know he was an emotionally volatile player, who could be baited into irrational fouls.

    Melo’s done a great job managing that over the years. If you think his smile means he’s lacking competitive drive, then really I’m not very into going forward in this discussion.

    Because frankly, none of you really have any idea what you’re talking about.

    If that’s your opinion, so be it. Just don’t start posting how you changed your mind later in the year. I won’t have the patience to respond very kindly, for whatever it’s worth.

  8. critgeog

    And I can only imagine how everyone would be killing Melo if he had the same reaction that Dirk did the other night after not getting the final shot against OKC. They would be calling him selfish and only caring about getting his but when Dirk does it it’s a sign of refusing to lose or some other B.S.

  9. jon abbey

    ruruland, where do you think Melo ranks overall in the league? if there was a full expansion draft tomorrow, ignoring salary/contracts, how many other players would you take before him if you were a GM? just curious…

  10. ruruland

    xcat01:
    Going back to that last play, I wonder how much was Melo trying to prove “I am the guy who takes the big shot” as opposed to I will do whatever it takes to win.I say this because when that shot went up, Novak was wide wide wide open and as hot as he has been lately, the logically play would have been for Melo to give up the ball in that instance, for the good of the team.

    If you think that with 2.7 seconds Melo made the bad decision here, considering his history as the best last-second shot maker in the NBA, i mean I don’t know what to say anymore…….

    http://www.youtube.com/user/gamezonezero#p/c/06A2E16C532B3799/2/izjMSkmQndY

    You really think that trying a cross court pass to guy not ready for the catch when there are 3 defenders in the passing lane…. didn’t Lebron recently try that.

  11. ruruland

    jon abbey:
    ruruland, where do you think Melo ranks overall in the league? if there was a full expansion draft tomorrow, ignoring salary/contracts, how many other players would you take before him if you were a GM? just curious…

    Without going through all the names, I’d say somewhere between 15-20. Context neutral, he’s better than a lot of guys with superior advanced numbers.

  12. cgreene

    seems like we are conflating competitive desire / will to win with rootability. we cannot take any valuable information about his drive away from his comments but we can comment on his lack of awareness when it comes to how comments like that might be perceived by the fans. two very different things.

  13. jon abbey

    ruruland: Without going through all the names, I’d say somewhere between 15-20.Context neutral, he’s better than a lot of guys with superior advanced numbers.

    yeah, that seems reasonable. so then my follow-up question (to you specifically) is what is he lacking to put him behind everyone but LeBron and Howard (who are freaks of nature)?

    to me, a big chunk of it is the almost sociopathic desire to win that Jordan had and Kobe has, plus I think he’s a little bit on the dumb side as compared to many of the top players.

  14. max fisher-cohen

    ruruland: Do I need to attach links to the many columnists and pundits saying that Dirk was soft and lacked competitive fire after the many early-playoff exits his team had, drawing the wrath of the same kind of armchair psychologists who concluded that Dirk’s para-langaguage and tone weren’t commensurate with a “true champion.”

    I don’t think John’s point was that Melo lacks in competitive fire. From the article:

    The problem is not that Melo is slacking on the court; there were several moments where his effort was unquestionably on display, such as when he fought for a rebound off three or four consecutive misses.

    I think, similar to the article I wrote last week, he’s more talking about perception. Everyone knows that Melo is the guy who decides whether this team is swept in the first round this year (or doesn’t make the playoffs at all) and, if he’s not traded, whether the team ever does serious damage in the playoffs. He is the only one with the potential to raise this team’s offense to the level of its defense.

    That reality is conducive to armchair psychology. It is conducive to the easy “Melo is soft” articles. In the context of that artificial narrative, Melo’s performance for the remainder of the season will do a lot to determine his legacy. If the team does not win, he will shoulder the blame, and if it’s not because of a lack of talent, it has to be something about his approach. At least that’s what the papers will write.

    For every Dirk Nowitzki, who overcomes the perception of softness, there are, after all, ten Vince Carters, Tracy McGradys, Dominique Wilkins’s, Mitch Richmonds, who either due to their situation or flaws in their games, be they mental or otherwise, never win titles and end up with a legacy, deserved or not, of also-rans.

  15. ruruland

    jon abbey: yeah, that seems reasonable. so then my follow-up question (to you specifically) is what is he lacking to put him behind everyone but LeBron and Howard (who are freaks of nature)?

    to me, a big chunk of it is the almost sociopathic desire to win that Jordan had and Kobe has, plus I think he’s a little bit on the dumb side as compared to many of the top players.

    Well, Jordan and Kobe have, as you mentioned sociopathic drives to win. These guys are every bit as much the freaks of nature competitively as guys like Howard and Lebron are athletically.

    This is simply a difference of having watched Melo’s competitive desire and his history of willing teams to win in close games and hostile environments.

    But look, where was Lebron’s competitive desire in the Finals last year. It’s not the first time that’s been questioned. Rose, where was his competitive desire when he folded down the stretch against the HEat, allowing his team to blow a double digit lead and missing two free throws with a chance to tie the game in the critical game 5 last year?

    Where was Durant’s competitive drive when he was swept by the Lakers, or when he helped allow his team to get beat 4-1 by the Mavericks by not coming close to matching plays with Dirk down the stretch?

    Where was Dirk’s competitive desire when his team was destroyed by the eight-seeded Warriors, and the other playoff failings where Dirk had little impact down the stretch on either ends of the court when his team needed him?

    Conversely, did Melo not show competitive desire for Knicks fans when he nearly singlehandily defeated the C’s last year, something not even Lebron has accomplished?

    Melo is not as smart as Lebron, Kobe, or MJ, I’ll give you that. But if you’re basing that off his comments to the media afterwards, I think it’s a big stretch to say he’s stupid.

  16. John Kenney Post author

    CGreene makes the point I was trying to make, and so I apologize if the article didn’t make it clear enough to you Ruru. Although I wasn’t “reading body language,” rather looking at what Melo said, my point was that his words leave open to consideration a whole host of possibilities which “New York,” essentialized, will not take well to. I readily admit that it could be a shield covering up his competitive nature, and I make no claims about how he has reacted in the past (although Ruru, Dirk has always taken losses hard, so that part doesn’t change…) The point was that acting like this, if it is coupled with losing, does not look good.

  17. Owen

    I agree with Max. This is article isn’t saying Melo lacks fire. It’s saying he is at risk of being perceived that way. Whether that’s unfair is a different question.

    And for reasons aside from his reaction to the loss, I think Melo is heading towards a rock right now. He is in danger of carrying the full blame for a disastrous season and having his reputation wrecked.

    I think he realizes that and, for once, I would bet we are going to see a lot more of good melo going forward.

    That said, he still won’t sniff 60% ts%….

  18. ruruland

    max fisher-cohen: I don’t think John’s point was that Melo lacks in competitive fire. From the article:

    I think, similar to the article I wrote last week, he’s more talking about perception. Everyone knows that Melo is the guy who decides whether this team is swept in the first round this year (or doesn’t make the playoffs at all) and, if he’s not traded, whether the team ever does serious damage in the playoffs. He is the only one with the potential to raise this team’s offense to the level of its defense.

    That reality is conducive to armchair psychology. It is conducive to the easy “Melo is soft” articles. In the context of that artificial narrative, Melo’s performance for the remainder of the season will do a lot to determine his legacy. If the team does not win, he will shoulder the blame, and if it’s not because of a lack of talent, it has to be something about his approach. At least that’s what the papers will write.

    For every Dirk Nowitzki, who overcomes the perception of softness, there are, after all, ten Vince Carters, Tracy McGradys, Dominique Wilkins’s, Mitch Richmonds, who either due to their situation or flaws in their games, be they mental or otherwise, never win titles and end up with a legacy, deserved or not, of also-rans.

    And I understand that. But McGrady never made it out of the first round. Wilkins and say Drexler get a little bit of a unfair rep. but as you say that’s simply perception.

    If Melo fails to take this current team deep into the playoffs w/in the next couple of years, then he’ll deserve that rep.

    But to say that won’t happen because of how he reacted after the Boston loss, that’s just not fair.

    Melo’s already dealt with this. He was considered TMAc 2.0 before leading the Nuggets to the WCF two years ago.
    Let’s remember, Garnett was a huge playoff failure as well before Boston, as…

  19. ROUGH

    What a flawed piece! I think Melo is overpaid. I find it disturbing that three borderline superstars have high jacked 90% of the salary cap. Etc, etc, etc. However, the Knicks have now miraculously gained depth and have prospects. It is time for the “blame-Melo-for-everything” approach to stop. It is unhealthy and destructive. Nobody can blame Melo for not trying to adjust and play to the best of his ability. And

  20. ruruland

    Owen:
    I agree with Max. This is article isn’t saying Melo lacks fire. It’s saying he is at risk of being perceived that way. Whether that’s unfair is a different question.

    And for reasons aside from his reaction to the loss, I think Melo is heading towards a rock right now. He is in danger of carrying the full blame for a disastrous season and having his reputation wrecked.

    I think he realizes that and, for once,I would bet we are going to see a lot more of good melo going forward.

    That said, he still won’t sniff 60% ts%….

    “for once” “won’t sniff 60%ts” that’s just trolling at this point.

  21. John Kenney Post author

    Just to be clear: I’m not of the “Melo can’t lead anyone out of the first round” mindset. I hope he proves me wrong in that I hope he leads the team to a win tonight vs the Mavs, not in regards to the extrapolations being made about down the line.

  22. ruruland

    John Kenney:
    CGreene makes the point I was trying to make, and so I apologize if the article didn’t make it clear enough to you Ruru. Although I wasn’t “reading body language,” rather looking at what Melo said, my point was that his words leave open to consideration a whole host of possibilities which “New York,” essentialized, will not take well to. I readily admit that it could be a shield covering up his competitive nature, and I make no claims about how he has reacted in the past (although Ruru, Dirk has always taken losses hard, so that part doesn’t change…) The point was that acting like this, if it is coupled with losing, does not look good.

    You were clearly going beyond saying it would simply be a perception problem. You alluded his reaction being an indictment on his lack of “it”.

    I have no problem with you having that opinion, but given the over-saturation of this kind of content anywhere Melo’s name appears, I was disappointed.

    I really will be surprised that if Melo starts to put up big games in big wins moving forward, that the praise will not be in inverse proportion to the criticism he’s currently receiving.

    The narrative is already set up so that Lin is the guy who gets credit for rescuing Melo’s reputation, regardless of his accomplishments moving forward.

  23. John Kenney Post author

    @ruru are you on twitter? Would rather talk there to explain- my point was it creates doubts on whether he has “it,” not some Baylessian declaration he absolutely doesn’t have it. I’m @johnbkenney

  24. ruruland

    John Kenney:
    CGreene makes the point I was trying to make, and so I apologize if the article didn’t make it clear enough to you Ruru. Although I wasn’t “reading body language,” rather looking at what Melo said, my point was that his words leave open to consideration a whole host of possibilities which “New York,” essentialized, will not take well to. I readily admit that it could be a shield covering up his competitive nature, and I make no claims about how he has reacted in the past (although Ruru, Dirk has always taken losses hard, so that part doesn’t change…) The point was that acting like this, if it is coupled with losing, does not look good.

    And I would challenge the contention that Dirk was always perceived to take losses hard or that he was perceived to have that top-notch competitiveness.

  25. ruruland

    John Kenney:
    @ruru are you on twitter? Would rather talk there to explain- my point was it creates doubts on whether he has “it,” not some Baylessian declaration he absolutely doesn’t have it. I’m @johnbkenney

    @rururuland

    Won’t be on for awhile though.

  26. thenamestsam

    Thank you. I’ve heard multiple people today say that he should have passed that ball and it’s just absurd. By the time he turned the corner and that pass was available there were 1.3 seconds left on the clock. The pass would have had to go through a microscopic window between Chandler and Allen and then Novak would have to obviously knock down the shot. The chances of him executing an extremely difficult pass and then Novak making the shot all in basically a second are essentially zero. You can complain about the play they drew up if you want but within the context of that play Melo had no choice but to shoot it. The whole play was drawn up to get him to that spot in single coverage so he could take the shot. The pass, by design, wasn’t an option.

    ruruland: If you think that with 2.7 seconds Melo made the bad decision here, considering his history as the best last-second shot maker in the NBA, i mean I don’t know what to say anymore…….

    http://www.youtube.com/user/gamezonezero#p/c/06A2E16C532B3799/2/izjMSkmQndY

    You really think that trying a cross court pass to guy not ready for the catch when there are 3 defenders in the passing lane…. didn’t Lebron recently try that.

  27. ruruland

    I have serious doubts the Mavericks play “angry” tonight. I’m not sure where that is coming from.

  28. jon abbey

    ruruland:

    Conversely, did Melo not show competitive desire for Knicks fans when he nearly singlehandily defeated the C’s last year, something not even Lebron has accomplished?

    not sure what series you were watching, but in the one I saw NY didn’t win a game, and Melo had at least one stunning game-end brainlock when Boston threw the ball into the backcourt to kill the clock and Melo took forever to foul. plays like that and the foul to end the first half against Rondo on Sunday just don’t seem to happen nearly as often to the other top players in the league.

  29. airchibundo507

    ruruland:
    I have serious doubts the Mavericks play “angry” tonight. I’m not sure where that is coming from.

    I know, right? They’ve lost 5 of 6. If they have been playing angry, it’s not affecting the W/L column.

  30. ruruland

    jon abbey: not sure what series you were watching, but in the one I saw NY didn’t win a game, and Melo had at least one stunning game-end brainlock when Boston threw the ball into the backcourt to kill the clock and Melo took forever to foul. plays like that and the foul to end the first half against Rondo on Sunday just don’t seem to happen nearly as often to the other top players in the league.

    Perhaps. It’s an interesting anecdote to build your case from, one which I could make a few counter-arguments to, but I mean, let’s just see what happens tonight and moving forward.

  31. daJudge

    John, I always like your stuff, but I did not care for the piece at all on a number of levels. The only point I agree with is that public perception is what it is and it is often baseless. Isn’t that why this site exists? Next, we’ll be having our athletes take PC lessons, so they can feed us happy horse sh-t with inane prepared statements and appropriate body language. BTW, I see no evidence at all demonstrating that Melo is not a highly competitive athlete who desperately wants to win. Sure, sometimes he chucks, he smiles at the ‘wrong’ times and I guess he didn’t put the freaking hair shirt on after the Boston game quick enough for some, but come on guys, please stop this. If you hated the trade fine, but move on and deal with it. I have my own issues with Melo’s game, but the stuff you’re writing about is coming out of the wrong tube.

  32. nicos

    Dirk should be exhibit #1 when it comes to how winning a ring changes people’s perception of you- pre-05/06, or the first 7 years of his career he was definitely considered soft. After making to the finals that changed somewhat but still, nobody was using him as a benchmark for competitive drive before last year’s championship. Jordan could be seen laughing with Barkley or Ewing on the free throw line and no one ever questioned his competitive desire because he won- in fact people said it was brilliant strategy on his part. When LBJ or Melo does it, it’s because they lack the killer instinct. Eli Manning has behaved the same way his entire career and his public perception has shifted 180 degrees from goofy, no fire, questionable leader to calm, unflappable, quarterback you most want in the huddle down 6 in a big game. Winning changes everything- If Melo’s phoning it in on the court, that’s a big problem. I’m not going to kill him for not punching walls after every loss.

  33. TelegraphedPass

    What I don’t like are comparisons between the attitudes of current players and those of the champions of yesteryear. The league was different back then, and I don’t think there is any evidence to support the idea that NBA champions need some sort of “killer instinct”. It’s a narrative drawn up after a player helps lead his team to a title.

    Fans want to lionize these players, but the fact remains that Dirk didn’t suddenly find a killer instinct. He found Tyson Chandler in his frontcourt. I don’t think Bill Russell won his titles because of some sort of sociopathic nature. He was an excellent player on an excellent team.

    Carmelo doesn’t lack a desire to win. He has shown his fire at various points during his career, and citing his lack of deep playoff runs as evidence of some type of personal weakness is just lazy.

  34. outoftowner

    That seems like a pretty sane reaction after losing a regular season game in overtime. It was basically a 50/50 game. We fans are very hard to please. We don’t think of athletes like Lebron or Melo as child stars, but they basically have been celebrities since early adolescence. They have no frame of reference for what its like to be an average person, and frankly it would be a little insulting if they pretended to. The only athletes that fans like on a personal level are those that are naturally shy and don’t say much of anything (Rose, Durant) or those that didn’t become famous until their mid 20′s and so developed their adult personalities before entering the world of celebrity (Nash, Nowitzki, Lin). When Melo or Lebron slip up and say something honest they end up offending everyone, kind of like Mitt Romney offering to make a $10,000 bet, or saying how he likes firing people.

  35. jon abbey

    Dirk didn’t just start winning playoff series last year, the refs took an earlier title away from him, and I’m pretty sure Tyson Chandler had nothing to do with that one.

    call it what you want, drive, intelligence, whatever, but Dirk is one of a handful of top players who constantly seems to make the correct decisions in clutch moments, and Melo just doesn’t. sometimes his talent overcomes that, but not often enough IMO.

  36. jon abbey

    sorry, I have to go back to this one. ruruland, I’m with you a good chunk of the time but no idea what you’re thinking here:

    ruruland:
    Conversely, did Melo not show competitive desire for Knicks fans when he nearly singlehandedly defeated the C’s last year, something not even Lebron has accomplished?

    please connect this statement with reality for me. what actually happened in the real world was Boston beat NY 4 straight, as follows:

    game 1: Melo blew chunks and Amare singlehandedly kept them in the game. any help from Melo at all and NY wins this one.
    game 2: Amare is hurt, Melo plays amazingly, NY comes up just short.
    game 3: Melo is terrible again, NY loses handily.
    game 4: Melo scores 32 on 29 possessions, but the game is basically over by halftime.

    oh, and then LeBron and Miami knocked Boston out in 5 in the very next round, so really that statement couldn’t be much farther from reality. please retract it, thanks.

  37. daJudge

    Jon, I have no problem with critiquing any player’s performance. That is totally fair. For me though, I would rather have Melo take a clutch shot than most (not all) players in this league. I may be off base statistically, but if it was a money shot, I’ve got no problem at all with Melo shooting. I feel about the same with Dirk, who I used to think was soft. Conversely, I would not put my money on our coach calling an effective last second play, offensively or defensively.

  38. Robert Silverman

    Nice article, John.

    The perception v. reality angle is a personal fascination of mine as well. I said it in the podcast, but I think it bears repeating: I think Melo is REALLY bad at media-speak. He never took to heart Crash Davis’ lessons on cliches and as a result, leaves himself open to heaps of over-analysis/jumping to conclusions by the adoring masses/4th estate (myself included).

  39. jon abbey

    daJudge:
    Jon, I have no problem with critiquing any player’s performance.That is totally fair.For me though,I would rather have Melo take a clutch shot than most (not all) players in this league.I may be off base statistically, but if it was a money shot, I’ve got no problem at all with Melo shooting. I feel about the same with Dirk, who I used to think was soft.Conversely, I would not put my money on our coach calling an effective last second play, offensively or defensively.

    I’m not even really arguing that, it’s the whole package that’s somehow lacking, and I strongly strongly disagree it’s some kind of media-generated narrative. I honestly don’t think Melo cares as much as guys like Rose and Wade and Kobe and Dirk, and if this team is going to win playoff series at any point, he almost certainly needs to.

  40. Frank

    zzz… this whole thread is like a 12 page Marc Berman article. Actually, more like a Peter Vecsey article.

    can we just stop trying to imagine what players are thinking or using a 12 word soundbite to divine their character? 99.999% of us don’t know the first thing about these guys and never will. What we know about them is what is spoon fed to us by beat writers who are bored with an agenda.

    I’d seriously rather start discussing ridiculous trades that will never happen and arguing about the utility of WS/48 and Ryan Anderson than read the last 20 posts again.

  41. nicos

    As a side note, I’m wondering how many guys can you think of who have been considered bench-marks for competitive fire (and I mean someone who’s one of the first four or five names you’d think of) without winning a championship- or at least getting to the finals- at some level. Garnett is the first guy who come to mind as he had his reputation as a fierce competitor before coming to the Celtics, but even with him I think it took getting to the conference finals to really cement it. Any others anyone can think of?

  42. ruruland

    jon abbey:
    sorry, I have to go back to this one. ruruland, I’m with you a good chunk of the time but no idea what you’re thinking here:

    please connect this statement with reality for me. what actually happened in the real world was Boston beat NY 4 straight, as follows:

    game 1: Melo blew chunks and Amare singlehandedly kept them in the game. any help from Melo at all and NY wins this one.
    game 2: Amare is hurt, Melo plays amazingly, NY comes up just short.
    game 3: Melo is terrible again, NY loses handily.
    game 4: Melo scores 32 on 29 possessions, but the game is basically over by halftime.

    oh, and then LeBron and Miami knocked Boston out in 5 in the very next round, so really that statement couldn’t be much farther from reality. please retract it, thanks.

    I was talking about game 2 when he was playing with a d-league team, much worse than any Lebron had around him.

    I think he was worn down and over-burdened trying to carry that team in games 3 or 4, Celtics defense took away Wade much the same when he was the only guy on that team, given all the defensive attention he was getting.

    The fact that he nearly beat the Celtics with a 42/17/6 when he was surrounded by Roger Mason, Toney Douglas, Anthony Carter, JJ,and the Williams bros. was a pretty special performance and should say a little something about a guy’s competitiveness.

    No, he couldn’t do it all series. He had a bad game one.

  43. John Kenney Post author

    On a different note, Kobe is wearing a matte black mask tonight. Picture here- http://deadspin.com/5891092/

    @outoftowner fans also like players on their respective teams that make it very clear that they are trying very hard (Kobe, MJ..for regular players, I guess it’s how Bulls fans can like Noah?)

    I’ll reiterate that I wasn’t mad he missed the shot, but that his comments afterwards made me think. Big difference.

    And yes, of course, if they won the game (which, again, I made clear was in the hands of other forces) then these questions don’t come up. And some may disagree with what I’m about to say, but given that we lost the game, I would want the guy who missed the game-winning shot to be bothered by it. I allow that he may actually be bothered by it. But his comments made me go “huh.”

  44. jon abbey

    on the flip side to Frank, I think it’s absurd that people can watch athletes compete for hundreds and hundreds of hours and still think they have zero insight into their personalities and what makes them tick.

    that doesn’t mean it’s always the easy or obvious conclusion, but it certainly doesn’t take a medical degree to connect A-Rod or LeBron’s need for approval to their lack of fathers or father figures growing up.

  45. daJudge

    Jon, I disagree, but as always, respect your opinion. I also do not think your opinion is media induced. If I implied that, I take it back. Nevertheless, can you agree that this debate (Melo’s heart) is in the realm of abject conjecture? I also do not agree that for the Knicks to prevail, Melo needs to “care” as much as the player’s noted. Jon, how do you know how much they care? Really, what does that mean. Anyway, I don’t feel good about tonight’s game, but go Knicks.

  46. jon abbey

    ruruland: I was talking about game 2 when he was playing with a d-league team, much worse than any Lebron had around him.

    I think he was worn down and over-burdened trying to carry that team in games 3 or 4, Celtics defense took away Wade much the same when he was the only guy on that team, given all the defensive attention he was getting.

    The fact that he nearly beat the Celtics with a 42/17/6 when he was surrounded by Roger Mason, Toney Douglas, Anthony Carter, JJ,and the Williams bros. was a pretty special performance and should say a little something about a guy’s competitiveness.

    No, he couldn’t do it all series. He had a bad game one.

    he played one fantastic game and one pretty good game out of four, that’s simply not acceptable for a franchise player. game 1 was when they needed him, game 1 was when they could have stolen home court, and he tossed up a complete stinker.

    as for Sunday’s game, I don’t even care that he missed the last shot or what he said afterwards. I care that he sucked for all five minutes of the OT, against an aging team where every key player had played a lot more minutes than him, in a game NY really needed.

    if he is the player you think he is, or the player we’re paying him to be, then it’s time he stepped up. hopefully he does.

  47. Thomas B.

    Frank:
    zzz… this whole thread is like a 12 page Marc Berman article. Actually, more like a Peter Vecsey article.

    can we just stop trying to imagine what players are thinking or using a 12 word soundbite to divine their character?99.999% of us don’t know the first thing about these guys and never will.What we know about them is what is spoon fed to us by beat writers who are bored with an agenda.

    I’d seriously rather start discussing ridiculous trades that will never happen and arguing about the utility of WS/48 and Ryan Anderson than read the last 20 posts again.

    Bwahahahahaha. Good observation.

  48. jon abbey

    nicos:
    As a side note, I’m wondering how many guys can you think of who have been considered bench-marks for competitive fire (and I mean someone who’s one of the first four or five names you’d think of) without winning a championship- or at least getting to the finals- at some level.Garnett is the first guy who come to mind as he had his reputation as a fierce competitor before coming to the Celtics, but even with him I think it took getting to the conference finals to really cement it.Any others anyone can think of?

    this is a fairly good point, although the first four or five names caveat thing makes it a bit unfair (of course people will think of guys who have won rings first).

    after a bit of thought, I’d go with guys like Oakley, Nash, Mark Price, Dan Majerle, John Stockton, and then wonder to myself what it means that so many of those guys are white.

  49. John Kenney Post author

    And never fear, I’ll come back at you all with a stats-based post soon. But while I think decisions should be made for those reasons, I also think one of the most compelling elements of basketball is the degree to which personalities impact the game.

  50. jon abbey

    Ewing is another one who always gave it his all, he just happened to be playing at a time when Jordan and Hakeem were also.

  51. John Kenney Post author

    @jon abbey Derrick Rose, Russ Westbrook..even someone like Luol Deng….

    It says that white players are often cast in the role of “hustle player overcoming physical limitations.” You never hear of a white player who is “coasting on their talent,” which says a lot about the discourse surrounding basketball.

  52. johnlocke

    +1

    jon abbey:
    Ewing is another one who always gave it his all, he just happened to be playing at a time when Jordan and Hakeem were also.

  53. johnlocke

    I have a feeling that 1 of 2 things is going to happen tonight…(I have no statistical evidence to back this up)

    Melo is going to have a MONSTER game and we win… or we’re getting blown out. I hope the former is right =)

  54. Juany8

    jon abbey: he played one fantastic game and one pretty good game out of four, that’s simply not acceptable for a franchise player. game 1 was when they needed him, game 1 was when they could have stolen home court, and he tossed up a complete stinker.

    as for Sunday’s game, I don’t even care that he missed the last shot or what he said afterwards. I care that he sucked for all five minutes of the OT, against an aging team where every key player had played a lot more minutes than him, in a game NY really needed.

    if he is the player you think he is, or the player we’re paying him to be, then it’s time he stepped up. hopefully he does.

    Jon cmon, should Lebron not be a franchise player for totally blowing 2 FINALS? Sorry for the caps, but Lebron has been abominably bad in Finals series, and it’s always been ok because he had that 1 great Pistons game, or those great early playoff rounds, or he made a bunch of terrible 3′s in the clutch (seriously, they were bad shots) against the Celtics and Chicago last year. Carmelo basically had to play 1 on 5 against a top 5 defense in the playoffs and had 2 good games (game 1 was just bad, it happens to everyone). And no, Carmelo is not on Lebron’s level, but he’s had some pretty unbelievable games in the past couple of playoffs.

  55. Owen

    Man, today is the day to probe the inner psyche here on Knickerblogger..

    Doesn’t happen often…

    Lebron James is really really really good….

    You know how he never had a post game? He has one….

  56. jon abbey

    LeBron has his own issues, but if Melo brought it like LeBron does in the regular season, game after game, season after season, I’d be way way more tolerant of his playoff failings.

  57. Juany8

    John Kenney:
    @jon abbey Derrick Rose, Russ Westbrook..even someone like Luol Deng….

    It says that white players are often cast in the role of “hustle player overcoming physical limitations.” You never hear of a white player who is “coasting on their talent,” which says a lot about the discourse surrounding basketball.

    Uhhh… you realize most white players are more “physically limited” right? Seriously, all the white superstars are pretty much great shooters who play very skilled basketball (Nash, Dirk, Pau, Love, Manu) Some of them are pretty athletic, but almost none have the combination of size, speed, and jumping ability of a Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, or Russell Westbrook. Forget offense, how many truly elite white defenders are there? Length and speed are huge determinants for who the best defenders are, and very few have ever looked like Kevin Garnett or Dwight Howard. White people rarely have the talent to coast on, although a few (Birdman, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko) have had perceived effort issues to mar legitimate athletic talent.

  58. art vandelay

    I loved Ewing more than anyone, but he also came up short on many an occasion in crunch time for us, and simply because he never won a ring he was viewed as a poor leader and poor crunch time player, when in reality, he probably made as many big shots as he missed, plus he never shirked the big moment even if he didn’t always come through.

    I feel as though Dirk was largely viewed similarly…as a soft stiff until he finally won last year…and btw, like Ewing Dirk shot terribly in his first finals appearance from the field (like ewing in 94)…oh, and to say the refs gave miami the series in 06 is a bit disingenuous….yes, it is true that wade marched to the line in the later games of the series, which was ridiculous, but when dallas had a chance to effectively close the series out in game 3 in miami, Dirk missed a crucial free throw that would have iced the game.

  59. Owen

    “And no, Carmelo is not on Lebron’s level, but he’s had some pretty unbelievable games in the past couple of playoffs.”

    And he has had eight trips to the playoffs where he has gotten out of the first round once.

    Which is unfair. It’s also unfair Melo had to be drafted in the same era as Bron. Because he looks so bad by comparison.

  60. John Kenney Post author

    Juany, Jon, none of our points were mutually exclusive. The language can be revealing even if grounded in facts.

    Next note: GAME TIME. Hoo wah

  61. hoolahoop

    J. Kenny
    Great write-up. I agree 100%
    (Of course the Melo apologists are going to run to his defense.)

  62. Joamiq

    Sorry, but “fans are going to get pissed off” is a dumb reason for doing anything. And yeah, the players you listed wouldn’t have said something like that, but other greats like Magic or Isiah might have, conceivably.

    Anyway, Melo has been pretty introspective and has questioned himself publicly a number of times this season. Just after the Boston game, he was berating himself for committing that bad foul just before halftime. Frankly, hearing him talk about making the game fun helps assuage my fears that he’ll beat himself up too much over his mistakes.

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