Isn’t it funny?
Last year Jeremy Lin and Linsanity swept New Yorkers off their feet. Media and fans alike wondered aloud: Are the New York Knicks better off without Carmelo Anthony?
Seriously. If you go back about eight or nine months ago, people actually thought that this was a remote possibility.
And, as a scorer who thrives on putting the ball in the hoop as well as anyone in the world, Kobe Bryant understood better than anyone what Anthony went through last season. After all, in the mid-2000′s, Bryant went through similar struggles; he tried to lead a team that wasn’t on his level as a competitor to the promised land. When a player is in that position it can lead them to question themselves, question what they’re doing on the basketball court.
“You know, he and I are good friends,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ disappointing 116-107 loss at MSG on Thursday. “We talked when we were together for the Olympic team. Last year was very tough for him because he was criticized for shooting and for playing the way he likes to play and the whole Linsanity thing happened and everybody said ‘Oh, they’re better without Melo,’ and all this nonsense.
“You guys are guilty of it. You put the hammer on him and as a result he got a little gun-shy on days and I asked him, ‘What the hell are you doing? You need to do what you do best,’ and I think the organization put pieces around him that allowed him to do that. Now you guys all celebrate him for doing what he’s always done. It’s funny. It’s funny. God bless you guys.”
Bryant has a good point. Anthony was criticized last season for being who he is, for yearning to be the guy who takes the Knicks over the playoff hump and into the promised land. He was criticized for having the desire to lead a team that quite simply wasn’t ready or in position for him to be the one to take over in the dominant fashion he has shown this season.
But now that Anthony has had a full offseason to get acclimated to a coaching staff, system and teammates, he’s thriving like never before.