Yesterday, when I left Maryland at 2:30 p.m., Carmelo Anthony had 22 points by halftime making it easily one of his best halves since last year’s trade. By the time I was roughly 75 miles from home, however, my phone literally erupted. One text read, “Bron ain’t doin’ that sh*t!” Another read, “PSA: Carmelo hits more big shots than LeBron. Easy.” And yet another proclaimed, “Your boy Bron ain’t built for the moments like that. Melo all day!” Then there was the call that brought forth the quote, “Ya man just doesn’t have the balls for situations like that. Let the real ballers get the spotlight.”
Keep in mind, I had not the first clue where all this was coming from. And let me tell you, blindside hate is a bitch. As it turned out from the highlights and reports I read, Melo did put his Superman cape on* and as my brother Eddie Maisonet noted, “Just willed them to a win. No other real way to describe it.” The turnaround time in the NBA, especially this season, is nothing short of peculiar. A month ago, there were calls for Melo’s head and how the offense had no business running through him. Now, he’s the biggest thing to hit Broadway since Biggie screamed “We did it Brooklyn!”
Regardless, Carmelo’s 43 points and New York’s victory were huge on several fronts. During one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, one Sunday afternoon validated everything for Knicks fans. Gutting basically the entire team. The belief they could make noise pending they secure a postseason spot. Why their team and arena are NBA gods. Yeah, whatever, but it’s the second point standing as the most intriguing. A Bulls/Knicks seven game series has potential. A healthy Jeremy Lin + 70% healthy Amar’e (because that’s all we’re getting out of him until he retires) + what they have now + confidence = not the normal 1/8 matchup.
This isn’t saying Chicago loses to New York because I’m still penciling a seven game ECF between them and that other team in South Florida. They’re still led by the best coach in the Eastern Conference. They still play lights out on defense. And they have the reigning MVP in Derrick Rose. The Bulls are number one for a reason, yet it’s not as if they’re invincible. A motivated Knicks squad is scary and the reason I’d like for Bron and the Heat to avoid them at any cost in the first round. Plus, anything to remind me of an iconic ’90s rivalry is great in my book.
Melo somehow leading the Knicks by Chicago works wonders image wise, too. Contrary to what the text sent earlier insinuated, Melo, for what it’s worth, has no playoff resume. Outside of getting beat by the Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference Finals and his 42-17 game in Boston last year (a series where they were swept might I add), Melo and the postseason are pretty much nonexistent. I mean, can we really say Melo has had a undisputed iconic “playoff moment” yet? Seriously.
Even with Philadelphia slumping to the eighth spot currently, we should all be treated to Anthony vs. Rose in the first round**. New York vs. Chicago. Mike’s old squad vs. the squad he shitted on repeatedly. A team that’s been left for dead more times than I can even remember this year vs. a team who’ve made battling injuries look like child’s play. Who doesn’t want to see Rose on the free throw line to win Game 6 in New York with the chance to put the series to bed?
You know what, on second thought, that’s probably exactly what Knicks fans want.
* – Found at an Orlando gas station, abandoned. Weird, huh?
**– Or if Chicago wants to drop to the second seed, that’ll be fine, too.