Poor Carmelo. Seriously, I mean it. The guy just can’t catch a break. I know he told fellow Syracuse Alum Dave McMenamin that he’s blessed, but I’d argue that good ol’ #15 has been cursed ever since leaving the Orange.
In case you missed it, here’s the quote: “I’m blessed. I’m still able to do this 19 years in and still able to enjoy it and still get motivated by it and love to go to work and love being around the guys. So a lot of times I’ll take that over a championship, if I could, because that’s my happiness. If I gotta be unhappy to try to go fight and win a championship, I don’t want that. I don’t want that unhappiness.”
While I appreciate Carmelo’s attempt to diminish the failures of the Lakers this past season, he can’t really be happy about how things went down. Yes, the ring isn’t everything, but he went to Los Angeles to try to get one and somehow an assumed contender ended up finishing in 11th place, out of the playoffs, and shamefully out of the play-in game.
Carmelo deserved better. After he revived his career in Portland he came to Los Angeles and had a very similar season statistically to last year despite is ever-rising age. In fact he shot better, rebounded better, and had better advanced stats like Win Shares and VORP. He played the same 69 games, and even logged one and a half minutes more per outing. None of this was his fault.
Carmelo can be blamed partially for what happened when he came to New York, by demanding a trade mid-season from Denver which depleted the Knicks’ roster and set them back for years. But, some of that blame can be placed on the Knicks organization too, since they knew he was going to sign there as a free agent anyway.
Carmelo can be blamed for Oklahoma City and not being willing to come off the bench.
He shouldn’t be blamed for what happened in Houston and his subsequent year and a half spent toiling on the market waiting for a break, but some would argue his past attitude caught up with him.
But once he got that break with Portland, he showed what he could do for a competing team in a reserve role. He had to have thought he found a championship opportunity with his old pal LeBron James in Hollywood.
The Lakers didn’t owe Carmelo Anthony anything, but they still failed him. By trading away key players from the 2020 Championship Team and adding Russel Westbrook (who is eerily mirroring Carmelo’s OKC/Houston Days) the team was doomed for the get-go. The didn’t gel, made excuses, dealt with injuries, and flat-out mailed it in at the end of the season, even with a chance to still make the play-in tournament. Anthony did exactly what he was supposed to for the Lakers. Problem is no one else did.
Now what? It sure sounds like he wants to keep playing and find himself in a happy situation. But will that come at the sake of a ring, proving all the naysayers right? At this point does it matter to him or his legacy? Would a Championship change anything for Carmelo?
That ship has sailed. He will always be remembered as one of the great individual scorers in NBA History, and we, as Orange fans, will always have 2003, but he will not be discussed among the discussions of the Top-25 of all time. For a long time, I thought he could get there, then it was clear it would be tough. Now it’s said and done, regardless if he plays again next year or not.
If he meant what he said and is truly having fun, then I hope he does. But it shouldn’t be for Los Angeles. It pains me as a Laker fan to say it, but he won’t find a ring or happiness there. Here’s hoping he finds one or both somewhere else.