There have been nothing but positive reviews for Carmelo Anthony thus far this year. All the reports from in and around the NBA prior to Monday night were that Carmelo had changed, had become a team player and really bought in to coach Mike Woodson's system. However anyone who watched 'Melo's performance on Monday night at Madison Square Garden saw a pretty good indication that none of that is true. For years Carmelo has been known as a player that gets frustrated when things aren't going well, and when he gets frustrated he starts doing stupid stuff. He spent 36:51 last night proving that that reputation is well deserved. He took stupid shots, committed stupid fouls and got even dumber once the game ended, pursuing Kevin Garnett into the Celtics' tunnel and also trying to confront the Celtic big man outside the Boston bus. For all the news that Anthony has matured this year he spent last night proving that he hasn't.
Clearly Carmelo was never picked on as a kid. If he had been he'd know that, when you show that taunts have gotten to you, you have let the taunter win. Kevin Garnett is widely known as one of the nastiest trash talkers in the league. As a player you know that KG is going to talk. You know he is going to try and get in your head. Carmelo knew that going in, but he still let it happen. When the two of them got double techs at the 9:03 mark of the fourth quarter Garnett was all scowls on the outside, but you knew he was smiling on the inside because he had Anthony right where he wanted him. True to form Carmelo completely lost his composure over the next nine minutes, missing six of his final seven shots (all bad shots that he shouldn't have taken) and committing some of the dumber fouls you will ever see. For all Carmelo's talk about how the Knicks "don't think about the Celtics" he let Garnett get to him early and often.
Seriously go back and look of the film of that fifth foul. It was only a one possession game at that point, 94-91 Boston with 2:55 remaining. Garnett had the ball in the post against Carmelo and before KG had even made a move Carmelo just blatantly fouled him. Sure it was a mismatch, but the Knicks were over the limit at the time and 'Melo really just gifted Boston two points out of frustration. A stop there would have given the Knicks a chance to really make it interesting in the final two minutes. As a result they never even got the chance to tie. 'Melo's other four fouls weren't much smarter.
However forget how Anthony behaved on the court. He had a terrible night, and it wasn't just Garnett that rattled him. The entire Celtics defense had him frustrated and, in typical Carmelo fashion, he responded by taking stupid shots and committing stupid fouls. But it just got worse after the game ended, when a screaming Carmelo had to be restrained outside the Celtics locker room and also tried to confront Garnett at the Boston' team bus. No matter how frustrated Anthony was he has to know that no possible good can come out of pursuing Garnett into the tunnel. It's a no win scenario. He is actually lucky that security was there to hold him back. If they hadn't been this would have been a lot worse. It doesn't matter if KG really did tell him that his wife tastes like Fruity Pebbles. The best way to shut him up is to answer on the court, but Carmelo failed to do so, again.
There are certain players that you don't want to piss off. Kobe Bryant is the kind of player whom, when you make him mad, he burns you by playing even better. Paul Pierce is also like that. Michael Jordan was too and so was Larry Bird. That is what separates Carmelo from the greats. It isn't talent. He is every bit as talented as anyone who has ever played, but he has never learned to channel his emotions. He remains a player who will get frustrated and hurt his team when he does. That isn't just stupid, it's downright selfish. He not only cost them the game with poor shot selection and foolish fouls, he is also likely going to be suspended at least a few games for acting like a petulant child afterwards. He once again put his own personal agenda above the team goals and it's not the first time.
It's no surprise that 'Melo go stupid last night. We all remember him sucker slapping Mardy Collins at MSG back in 2006 and then setting a world record for the 40 yard backpedal. We also remember him, after playing three superb defensive possessions against Kobe Bryant in the 2009 Western Conference Finals, getting angry at an official and letting Kobe rip off nine straight points before focusing in again. The Knicks have surrounded him with a solid core. They have a strong veteran locker room and roster full of guys who can play. The result has been 'Melo having an MVP type year thus far. But an MVP cannot behave like that. The bottom line is that the Knicks not named Carmelo played pretty well last night. However Carmelo wasn't even remotely valuable. If anything he was their least valuable player. The Celtics will continue owning the Atlantic Division until he grows up, and all signs indicate that that wont be happening any time soon.
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