With a nice tribute from Kevin Durant, we’re all reminded of Carmelo Anthony’s days as a champion.
Anthony, the former Syracuse standout, had his jersey retired Saturday afternoon before ‘Cuse took on Georgetown at the Carrier Dome in their last matchup as Big East opponents.
As a freshman, Anthony dominated the 2002-’03 college basketball season. He averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds while leading Syracuse to a National Championship.
At the ripe age of 19, he became a legend.
After his freshman season he declared for the NBA, destined for more of the same.
Halfway through his 10th NBA season, though, Anthony has not been able to find the championship form that propelled him into stardom as a diaper-dandy now a decade ago. After a fiery 18-5 start to the season, the Knicks are an uninspiring 14-15 and have fallen from Eastern Conference grace.
Whether such criticism is fair or not, Anthony will bear the brunt of it despite having what many believe to be the best season of his career while averaging 28.4 points per game, good for second in the league.
He’s the star player in the NBA’s biggest market, something he asked for when he forced his way out of Denver. And when things started turning around for the Knicks last year because of Jeremy Lin, he ran him out of town. So whether the Knicks are struggling because of injuries to other key players, or because Mike Woodson is losing his locker room, the blame is still going to fall down on Anthony.
Woodson can preach from the sideline, but Anthony must lead on the court.
Others will follow.
The Knicks will look to get back on track Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that has given them problems this year.
If they’re lucky, Saturdays tribute to Anthony will remind him of what he’s capable of.
Going all the way.
Ben Baroff is a sports journalist and marketing professional who blogs and writes columns for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.