While Russell Westbrook collected another triple-double against the Knicks on Monday, he has much more to prove than Carmelo Anthony.
Let’s face it. Carmelo Anthony is a bit comfortable in his relationship with New York.
He could have done better. He could have traded up, so to speak, for a newer, hotter, more win-some model back in 2014-15 before he signed the $124 million and change contract keeping in the Big Apple for another five years.
But he stayed, and that ironically became the year the Knicks set a special kind of record: most losses in franchise history, by a lot.
So, the pressure was off. Anything after a .207 kind of season looks like progress.
Look, one player should never be to blame for the demise of an entire ball club, but with great power comes great responsibility, correct?
When you compare Melo’s record with the Knicks to that of Russell Westbrook and the long-standing relationship he’s built with OKC and its constituents, with the latest run being a hard fought Western Conference Championship battle- it’s a different kind of ball game.
Now, after eight years and 652 games with teammate Kevin Durant, Westbrook finally has the stage to himself.
Even Anthony speculated about the Westbrook spotlight, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“He wanted to be the leader of that team, regardless of if KD came back or not. He wanted that moment. You could just tell that his vibe was different, his energy was different. You could tell when people want those moments.”
So yeah, Westbrook and company suffered a devastating series loss to the Golden kids in Cali only to have their star player pack his bags and go sleep with the enemy. In conjunction, Westbrook saw a challenge and rose to the occasion. He could have made more green elsewhere, no doubt, but he’s got a conference to win and a team to lead.
Melo? He’s got fans with low expectations … and a fresh-faced talent-dripping Kristaps Porzingis.
By anybody’s count, Melo is already ahead of the triple-double machine.