With all eyes on the outcome of the conference finals and an unexpected retirement threat coming from LeBron James, one of the most important players of the century, Carmelo Anthony, silently hangs his sneakers. The New Yorker leaves the best basketball league in the world after staying a free agent throughout the entire season and competing at the highest level for 20 years.
Carmelo Anthony, an old school kind of player:
There are not many players like Carmelo Anthony left, and not just because of his one-of-a-kind talent, but also due to his style of play, which focused on many aspects of basketball that have started to fade out recently. In today’s game, determined by three pointers and scoring in the paint, the NBA landscape is a lot different to the one of the forward’s prime.
Melo’s biggest weapons, the mid-range shot or post moves (that made him pretty much unstoppable in a slower paced system) have become less and less frequent in favor of a much more dynamic and fast style of basketball.
This phenomenon, along with the player’s inevitable physical regression, have been the keys to his departure. Although, even over the course of the last few years of his career (while playing on a role), Carmelo Anthony has left small samples of what he was throughout his trajectory, one of the most gifted offensive players the NBA has ever seen (a claim credited by his ninth place on the league’s all-time scoring list).
He never was the greatest defender, but the decrease in his athleticism was clear ever since he played his last few seasons for the Knicks. Despite still being a viable offensive alternative, six years after his last game as a ‘Knickerbocker’, he has become a defensive liability.
With the current importance of advanced stats in executive decisions around the league, it was a matter of time before a player that was never the fastest, who did not particularly like passing and who needed a lot of touches to produce (sort of like Kobe Bryant) was left behind.
But only a few days after announcing he will never take the court again; the reasons why are the least important topic. There is a lot to celebrate in honor of one of the best 75 players to ever do it.
One off of bingo, Anthony’s unfinished business:
Like every fan who is part of my generation, I grew up watching a Melo Anthony who had played at an elite level for years. Someone who could score at will no matter who was in front of him despite not having the physical capabilities of LeBron or Blake Griffin, who was dominant back in his day.
The Knicks’ number 7 faked out his opponents like a magician and if you left any space for him to shoot, he would make you pay. An isolation artist who displayed an infinite bag of tricks along with mesmerizing footwork. He was also lethal in the clutch, even recording five separate game winners in the 2005/2006 season.
Some of the best memories I recall since I started to follow the league are David Carnicero’s commentaries, as he would always scream “bingo!” when a player made a triple. I could not exactly gauge how many of the ones I happened to listen to were a result of Carmelo’s game, but it surely was a bunch of them.
The 2014 All-Star game has a special place in my heart, a show of a match in which Anthony recorded 30 points and eight threes, although the MVP would be a young and electric guard by the name of Kyrie Irving.
Despite all his “bingos”, Carmelo Anthony could not call the most important one. He happens to never have won a regular season MVP and only one scoring title (he would have many more if Kevin Durant was out of the equation), but what really hurts is to see a legend like him retire without a championship ring.
Over the course of his career, his game has been labeled as “losing basketball”, but his run to lead the Nuggets to the conference finals in 08/09, his four Olympic medals and his NCAA championship speak volumes in favor of the future Hall of famer.
A bittersweet way to go out?
Among the awards he will receive for the following months and year, there is only a questionable one. ¿Will the Nuggets retire his jersey?
It is more than obvious that nobody will ever wear number seven again for the Knicks, but Denver’s fifteen is now held by the two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic, who has led the franchise to his first NBA finals appearance and earnt the right to keep his number (and have it retired by the time he calls it a career) as much if not more than Anthony.
What is a certified lock, is a magical night in Madison Square Garden in which the number of the man that once scored 62 points (franchise record) on its hardwood will rise to its rafters.
Main image: @nuggets.