It’s a strange time as a Syracuse fan to watch the demoralizing saga of Carmelo Anthony. It’s not even Thanksgiving and already the Rockets have cut bait, looking to move on after just a few measly weeks of basketball. Then to add insult to ignominy, in its first game after Melo’s release, Houston plays its best hoops, drubbing the Dubs 107-86. In fact, after the Rockets decided to push Anthony out, they won four in a row and had their best offensive performance of the year, 132-112 over the Kings.
What does it all mean? Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey insist Carmelo’s attitude was great. They’ve told anyone who would listen Anthony did exactly what was asked of him. This apparently wasn’t about a poor attitude or clashing with coaching. This was simply because they all tried to make it work, and couldn’t (whatever that alludes to). The Rockets were losing games, and Melo was going to be getting less time, and that daily fascination would continually create a headache for the team.
Okay, maybe. Perhaps when a polarizing Hall of Famer like Melo, especially one as popular with players as he is, no longer has it he must be treated with kid gloves. But even so, how does Orange Nation reconcile with their favorite son being an NBA punching bag? The only person to deliver a national title to Syracuse in hoops (granted with plenty of help from teammates), the guy who’s name glistens on the state-of-the-art practice facility, whose number hangs in the rafters, is now just an easy NBA joke.
For every player that seems to love Melo (including some of the greatest and most influential in the league – LeBron, CP3, D-Wade), there’s equally as many moments of getting ripped by people in the league. Phil Jackson famously tore him down in New York, hoping to get him to drop his no-trade clause. His former coach George Karl said he was “the biggest conundrum” he ever had, “a user of people, addicted to the spotlight.” This was at the same time Karl made news for suggesting steroid use was widespread in the NBA. Even Jim Boeheim has added fuel to the fire. He has lashed out at critics on social media. It has never been a smooth ride for Carmelo.
Now after just ten games with the Rockets, he’ll be looking for work again. This after a tortured season in Oklahoma City where everything went wrong. That after poisoned final years in New York. Which followed the toxic end in Denver. Syracuse fans remember the banner, the wonderful run to a title in 2003, and it doesn’t seem to fit. How does a guy like that end up with an NBA career like this? It never makes much sense, except when you assume for Melo, it can always get worse.