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With all of the NBA free agency craziness happening, New York Knicks fans need to take a step back and reflect on Carmelo Anthony‘s loyalty.

He’s already sweating, knowing that it’s going towards something real, something tangible.

Carmelo Anthony is in the gym in July. Not only is he working on his usually versatile scoring game, he has new teammate Joakim Noah along for the ride.

Melo is hoisting up perimeter beauties while Noah is manning his usual garbage-man role in the paint.

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These two NBA veterans, aged 32 and 31 respectively, know what’s at stake. The 2016-17 New York Knicks season could be their best chance at an NBA Championship.

The season is at stake not solely due to the shaking and moving of Phil Jackson this season, but because their star, Melo, didn’t run.

Anthony has experienced only two winning seasons in New York. In seven seasons since the Knicks acquired him from Denver for a plethora of players, he’s tasted the NBA Playoffs just three times. Only once was he lucky enough to make it out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Despite the overwhelming struggle it has been, Melo has stayed true to the city. He’s stayed loyal in an otherwise selfish and title chasing league.

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Consider LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Neither player did anything that drastically different than Melo.

We just saw the 27-year old KD head to Golden State. He’ll join forces with the enemy – the team who overcame a 3-1 series deficit, against Durant himself, during the Western Conference Finals just a couple months ago.

The kid ran for a title.

We witnessed The Decision six years ago when a young and foolish James told the world he’d be taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat. LeBron was a scared boy afraid his legacy wouldn’t hold up with other greats if he didn’t have the NBA jewelry to show for it.

He ran for a title.

Then we have Anthony, the man who demanded a trade at the age of 26 when currently employed by the Denver Nuggets, the team who drafted him No. 3 overall in 2003. He was, no doubt, one giant pain in the ass for the Nuggets. He voiced his displeasure to the world and the entire Association knew he wanted out.

What’s worse is he only wanted to go one place: New York.

Denver received a pretty raw deal in the end, but at least they and the Cavs (thanks to a sign-and-trade with LeBron), received something. The Oklahoma City Thunder received nothing.

The difference between the Melodrama and the LeBron and KD situations is this: Melo decided to build a legacy somewhere. The other two, especially Durant, left pretty solid personnel and organizational situations in attempt to win a “teamed up” championship. LeBron righted his wrong two years ago, but the premise still exists.

Knicks fans need to understand how lucky they are to have Carmelo Anthony.

No, he’s not the greatest player in the world. He’s not the same guy 10 years ago who’d tear up any defender in front of him. He’s not the perfect player. At times he leaves a ton to be desired when it comes to defense, unselfishness, and overall basketball awareness.

He’s not LeBron James – nowhere near that caliber of player, actually. But this is OK. Nobody is of that caliber.

What he is, though, is a star scorer who’s remained incredibly loyal to his city, his fans, and his team.

He’s a guy who chose a destination near the beginning of his career and stuck with it. He stuck with it despite poor organizational planning and terrible personnel decisions.

He has kept the faith in his organization through thick and thin – despite losing many of his prime years to mediocrity.

He could have bolted for perceived greener pastures many times.

Knicks fans shouldn’t just praise the acquisitions of Derrick Rose and company. They should count their lucky stars they have Carmelo Anthony – a guy who, last year, finally showed he’s capable of change in an incredibly unselfish way.

Anthony’s a guy who’ll never run from a challenge, an idea devastatingly lost on today’s NBA superstar.

When loyalty and toughness are present, the real, everlasting reward is on the other side of that rainbow.

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Founder of Elite Sports NY---Content of Jets, Knicks, Giants, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Giants---Former strong safety, point guard, and 400-meter hustler. Born as a New York sports fan, something that'll never be shaken. (Jets, Rangers, Knicks, Yankees). Remembers Matteau, the Dunk, the Yankees on MSG, Mr. Conn Smythe Leetch, and Chrebet's fearless ways. E-Mail: