To compare Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett might seem silly to some. Garnett is a leader, and has the heart of a champion. He was the anchor of the Boston Celtics champion team of 2008. Anthony, on the other hand is a ball stopping hog and doesn’t play defense. And his worst offense, and the biggest indictment against him, is that he only has gotten his team out of the first round of the playoffs one time.
Oh how soon we forget. And how winning changes everything. For you young folks reading this, you might not remember that once upon time Kevin Garnett played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In eight seasons in Minnesota exactly how many times did KG’s Wolves make it out of the first round? Um, the answer would be one time.
One the one hand, especially in his prime, it is fair to say Garnett had more of an all around game than Melo. However, KG was clearly the man in Minnesota and when it came playoff time, he was accused of shrinking in the fourth, and shying away from his offense. Something nobody ever accused Melo of.
In Boston, KG was able to share, “the man” duties with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, A.K.A, “the big three”. Two future hall of famers that were still in their prime when they joined forces and complimented KG’s game.
In Denver, Melo had a past his prime Allen Iverson, and a legit but slightly passed him prime Chauncey Billups. In New York he has a team, this post season, which if healthy enough, can legitimately compete.
In the lone year the Celtics did win a champion with KG, he played for not one but two of the leagues best coaches. Doc Rivers as the head coach, and arguably the Bill Belichick of basketball, Tom Thibodeau as the assistant coach/ defensive coordinator. Of course Thibodeau is now the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
Melo had George Karl in Denver. A great regular season coach who had great Seattle Sonic teams, long before he teamed with Melo, that often under performed in the playoffs. Including when his Seattle team suffered one of the biggest upsets in history as the first number one seed to lose to an eight, ironically, the Denver Nuggets.
KG’s Wolves did lose two series as the favorite. Melo’s Nuggets lost as 4th seed once to the Utah Jazz when their teams had identical records. With the NY Knicks, Melo will be a favorite for the first time.
Prior to Michael’s Jordan’s reign, only one time had a team with the NBA’s leading scorer won a championship. It was supposed to be Jordan’s Achilles heal. Kobe Bryant is a great player when they win and a selfish shooter when they lose. I’m not saying Melo is the class of Jordan or Kobe, but he is a great scorer and that is the criticism that scorers often get.
The pressure is on him now more than ever due to a lack of past success and the fact that they are a number 2 seed. Boston is much better than your typical number 7 seed, but the favored Knicks should win. A certain amount of pressure for Melo is fair. But win or lose, let’s see how Melo, the team and the coach perform before rendering judgement. And of course, the Celtics will have something to say about the outcome.
If the Knicks fail to win in the first round, or Melo never wins a championship remember, a lot of great players never won championships, and a lot of other great players like Kevin Garnett, like Julius Erving, never won championships until the perfect situations happened upon them.
If Melo does win a championship before he retires it will be interesting to see if the perception of him changes the way it has for Garnett.