New York Knicks

No player in the league has faced more criticism than New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Now, he will face it head on in 2015-16.

By Chip Murphy

Carmelo Anthony debuted with the New York Knicks against the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 23, 2011. He walked into Madison Square Garden wearing a cape, with the thunderous cheers raining down on him that he had longed for while he was in Denver. Anthony had finally made it back to New York City. He was born there and he loved everything about it.

He was now officially the conquering hero “returning home.”

Anthony had forced his way out of Denver via trade and the rumor was that he would not accept any other destination but New York. Anthony put the Denver Nuggets in an extremely difficult position. No one else was going to trade for him knowing that his contract was expiring and he would leave in free agency. His power play worked. Carmelo Anthony was home.

Suddenly, the bitter snubbing of LeBron James just that past summer had been forgotten. Anthony was going to pair up with Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks were going to be relevant again.

So what went wrong? Why is Carmelo Anthony the object of so many New York Knicks’ fans disdain? He didn’t suck the health out of Stoudemire or sign the coaches and players that the team put around him.

What exactly did he do?

Most say, “he never passes, or he’s just a ball stopper.” First of all, ball stopper is one of the most overused terms in the league right now. I guess we would have to call Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in their primes ball stoppers as well. Would you pass on them for your squad? If you don’t get where I’m coming from check out this eye-opening article by Evans Clichy of Nylon Calculus.

In 2010-11 with Denver, Anthony was averaging 20 FGA per game. The year before he averaged 22 FGA per game. His highest average since getting to New York? 22 in 2012-2013. That was his MVP year by the way. He has been a workhorse since joining the Knicks, averaging 35 plus MPG in four of his five seasons with the team. This includes the 2013-2014 season where he led the league in that category with 38.7.

Others say, “he needs to make his teammates better.” My response is this: Carmelo Anthony has always played his best when he had a veteran point guard/leader. That is what he needs. His best seasons were with Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd. He needs that type of player on this team. Jackson thought that Jose Calderon could be that veteran presence, but that experiment has failed.

Anthony has played in 835 games in his 12-year NBA career. That’s good for 34th among active players. Recovering from a knee surgery is going to take time. Especially, when it was the first major injury of his career. He only played in 40 games last year, which was a career low. It was a long rehab road just for him to get to this place.

Knicks’ fans don’t want to talk about that. They don’t want to remember his move to power forward and his rebounding numbers shooting up. They would rather annihilate his character and criticize his poor shooting percentage through five games.

When a shooter goes cold there is nothing else he can do but shoot himself out of the slump. Carmelo tends to take that to another level. All great players not named Tim Duncan are like that. When their teams are losing they want to be the reason they win. Is that really something to criticize? Why do we hate this man when he has such a strong desire to win?

Carmelo Anthony can change the perception of every Knicks’ fan back again. He is still one of the most well rounded scorers in the NBA. He is fit to take on criticism. Anthony can not have wanted to be here if he couldn’t. Until he’s himself again, let’s let him build his strength up.

Then, and only then, can we enjoy the show.

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I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.