Yahoo! Sports and ESPN? I Strenuously Object!

My original plan was to let the events of last night sink into my brain before I put finger to keyboard to summarize my thoughts on Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. That plan got set aside after reading Adrian Wojnarowski’s hatchet job of Carmelo Anthony over at Yahoo! Sports:

And once again, this was enough for Carmelo Anthony. Once again, he still doesn’t understand that a superstar’s code calls for different disposition when a losing playoff night is over. Whatever he’s done, it isn’t enough. Let everyone else praise you, but the superstar doesn’t take bows when his team is down 2-0 in a series where he ended one game missing 10 of 11 shots.

“It was fun,” ‘Melo said late Tuesday.

Yes, the Knicks had so much reason to be proud, but let’s face it, after getting ripped in the New York tabloids for such a poor Game 1 performance, ‘Melo’s debriefing on Game 2 had an unmistakable message to it: Too bad we lost, but you can’t blame me for it. If Anthony wants everyone else to regard him as one of the sport’s superstars, he needs to hold himself to the standard that comes with it.

Now I see why Wojnarowski makes the big bucks: he’s clairvoyant. I’m not sure what’s more impressive, Melo’s 42 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks, or the fact that Wojnarowski can extrapolate all of the above from Melo saying, “It was fun.” Of course, Wojnarowski must have had his jump to conclusions mat laid out in front of him. He obviously landed on “Go Wild.”

When Anthony had a chance to close out the game, he made the safest possible play to ultimately deflect criticism, the one that deep down he knew would free him of blame when it predictably crumbled.

It was ‘Melo and four bench players on the floor, and it didn’t matter that he had found several of them for assists in the fourth quarter. Everything changes with the game on the line, and ‘Melo had to choose without a moment’s notice: Could I split the defenders and bet on myself or give the ball to Jared Jeffries because he happened to be open?

Huh? It didn’t matter that Jared Jeffries got the ball about two feet from the basket? It didn’t matter that all Jeffries had to do was turn around and lay it up off the glass? Even if you concede the point that Melo shouldn’t have left the game in Jared Jeffries’ hands, it is yellow journalism to say “[Melo] made the safest possible play to ultimately deflect criticism” when he attempted a 28 foot three-pointer with a hand in his face when taking the last shot in the game immediately preceding this one. That deduction is even more incongruous with the truth when faced with the fact that Melo has been taking (and often hitting) almost every big shot since bring traded to the Knicks.

While the above comments represent a “reporter” inappropriately playing fast and loose with the facts, the following comment actually riled me up more than the rest:

Carmelo Anthony says this was a lot of fun, but champions don’t find joy in statistics that spare them the tabloids’ wrath. They come to take everything, and they’re miserable unless they do. Anthony’s never been that superstar, never embraced that burden, that mindset.

Peter May had a similar comment in this morning’s Daily Dime at ESPN.com:

This is how teams that come close, but can’t finish, rationalize things. The Knicks gave the Celtics everything they could handle — and left Boston on the Good Ship Lollipop with nothing to show for it. They should be spitting nails.

Is that right, gentleman? “[Champions] come to take everything, and they’re miserable unless they do?” “[The Knicks] should be spitting nails?” It’s not like that loser Manny Ramirez ever won anything after he said this:

“Why should we panic?” he said Wednesday in a rare clubhouse interview. “We’ve got a great team.”

And then, this: “It doesn’t happen, so who cares? There’s always next year. It’s not like it’s the end of the world.”

Wait… what was that? The Red Sox went on to win the 2007 World Series? But I thought champions are miserable unless they take everything and spit nails when they don’t.

I understand these writers need to generate hits for their respective sites and that’s why they make these outlandish statements. However, I take issue with anyone telling someone else how they should react to anything, never mind how they should react to losing a basketball game, even if it is a playoff game. People react to things differently and just because Melo doesn’t go through the histrionics of a Kevin Garnett doesn’t make him any less of a leader. Because we all know how successful KG, the great leader, was before he joined forces with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. What? You don’t remember all those titles the Timberwolves won, inspired by KG headbutting the padding under the hoop and scowling at the media after losses? Perhaps I have a faulty memory, but I seem to remember Melo the Selfish having far more success (read: winning basketball games) with his initial NBA team than Kevin “I Wear My Heart on My Sleeve” Garnett had with his.

Finally, basketball should be fun. Sure, it sucks that the Knicks lost last night, but that game sure was a lot of fun to watch. Especially when Knicks fans take a moment to reflect on where this team was last year (hint: playing golf.) So if Melo having fun equals him posting a stat line that would make the Big O jealous, then I hope he has a lot more fun in these playoffs.

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