Carmelo Anthony’s return to New York to play for the Knicks seemed like a dream come true for a team that had struggled to win for over a decade. It was a much-needed move for New York – not just the team, but the city too.
Look at the number of college basketball programs around the New York Metro (Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall in the Big East alone), but none have large, diehard fan bases.
With Syracuse’s seemingly successful push to become New York’s College team, the ‘Melo move may be exactly what was needed to give the Orange supreme visibility in the Mecca of media.
Even hearing the words “At forward, at 6’7” from Syracuse, #7, Carmelo Anthony!” gave me chills Wednesday night when watching the Knicks game. This was not supposed to be goosebump territory. The dreadful Bucks were visiting – the worst shooting team in the league – yet the hype could have blown the roof off a sold out Madison Square Garden.
His video intro is, well, you’ve just gotta watch it to understand the feeling.
Think ahead now to the Big East tournament which runs March 8-12 at Madison Square Garden. While the Knicks will be on the road, you can bet there will be a ton of Carmelo jerseys in the crowd. It’ll be the hottest Syracuse item in New York.
Think of that star power that must make Daryl Gross’ eyes gleam every time he makes a trip down to NYC. He get the Empire State Building lit up in orange, he can lay claim to a Times Square billboard for the SU cross country team. It’s only a matter of time before ‘Melo gets that phone call asking for some ‘Cuse face time at MSG.
The reason the “New York’s College Team” push has worked in New York City is because there has never been a college program in the area with mass appeal. St. John’s flirted with it briefly in the 1980s behind the star power of Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson and Lou Carnesecca, but New York has, and always will be, a pro sports town.
However, none of the other college programs around NYC have the same star power the Orange now holds. One of basketball’s biggest stars in the prime of his career has just been wedded to the city SU so desperately wants to control. Cab billboard advertisements are nice, but nothing moves units like Carmelo’s smiling grill with a block “S” plastered next to it.
St. John’s added Steve Lavin. UConn added a sweetheart SNY deal. But Syracuse just upped the ante with the tri-state area’s biggest hoops star since Patrick Ewing. Whether you even pay attention to the NBA, if you care about Syracuse this should make you happy.
Not only does this jumpstart publicity today, but it can affect the college choice of young basketball fans tomorrow. Even though the Knicks don’t care, they just made a huge move for Syracuse University.
Posted: Mike Couzens