If you’re a regular reader of my weekend blogs, you might know that I grew up in Baltimore, and I’m more than a little proud of my city. We’ve got a storied history of people who became legends in their fields leaving town and becoming closely associated with bigger cities with brighter lights. Tupac Shakur and Babe Ruth both went to high school in Baltimore, just to name a couple.
Another former Baltimore resident is Carmelo Anthony. He attended Towson Catholic (just down the road from my high school, Calvert Hall), but then went to Syracuse, won a national championship with the Orange, and then jumped to the NBA.
Last night, he scored 62 points for the Knicks, and now he’s got a chance to become a New York legend. Which is great for both him and the Knicks, and also for Baltimore, but it still makes me wish we still had an NBA team of our own, so maybe one day when the next Melo comes along, he won’t have to leave town to become great.
Today’s blog is full of Melo news and lots of other great reading, so let’s get to it:
- In the wake of Melo dropping 62, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski looks at the chances of him leaving the Knicks: “The losing, the decaying roster, has inspired ‘Melo to consider closely the possibilities of free agency this summer. WIthin the past several weeks, a longtime confidant of Carmelo Anthony confesses, something changed. Never did he believe there was a chance Anthony would leave the New York Knicks – never the Madison Square Garden stage, never the $129 million contract extension. Only now, the gloom of the Knicks’ season – the uncertainty of the franchise’s future – left that man to believe it’s possible Anthony could leave New York in free agency. “Chicago is much more in play for him than L.A.,” the source said. The Bulls traded Luol Deng for draft picks and are leaning strongly toward using the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer. They could create a maximum contract slot for Anthony, pairing him with Derrick Rose. For Anthony, it is leaving a cap-strapped team through 2015 for a Chicago proposition with significant risks of its own. No one can be sure of Rose’s return to his MVP greatness, but everyone can be sure of one thing: The franchise’s mandate isn’t winning championships, but sidestepping luxury and repeater taxes to turn the fattest possible profits for the owner. As the Bulls have let talented player upon talented player leave because of money – Omer Asik and Kyle Korver and Deng – they’ve shown themselves to be a big market franchise with small-market sensibilities. There’s something else, too: Between the 22 combined championships in Chicago and Los Angeles, there’s no adulation for a star who fails to deliver a title. The Knicks have gone 40 years without a parade – and could go another 40 without one – and still Anthony would forever be treated with a level of reverence in New York. There are no beloved ex-Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing and Bernard King in L.A. and Chicago – just players who won championships, and just those long ago forgotten.”
- Here’s the story on that 62-point performance, courtesy Marc Berman of the New York Post: “One game after it appeared his frustration level had hit a new low, Anthony made Friday a magical, memorable evening by scoring a franchise and Garden record 62 points, topping his idol Bernard King and Kobe Bryant, respectively. Anthony’s greatness carried the 16-27 Knicks to a 125-96 romp over the Bobcats to snap a five-game losing streak as the Garden crowd went bonkers and chanted his name most of the second half. “It still feels surreal to me — no better feeling than having that feeling tonight on this home court,’’ said Anthony, whose young son, Kiyan joined him in the giddy locker room. “The fans, I haven’t heard them like that since last year. It was good to get that feeling back.’’ It was a deluge of joy after a season of misery. “We all needed it,’’ Anthony said. “I needed it. We needed it as a team as a moral and confidence booster.’’ Anthony, whose previous career high was 50 points, accomplished three times, racked up 20 after one quarter, 37 by halftime and carried 56 points into the fourth quarter.”
Anthony: “I wanted to come in [with a performance] to say that I don’t accept losing.”
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) January 25, 2014
- This is encouraging news for the Bulls, and Team USA: Derrick Rose is probably going to be back in game shape in time for the World Cup. Here’s Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Derrick Rose issued a statement Thursday that he’d like to be ready to play for USA Basketball in this summer’s FIBA World Cup in Spain, and according to a source close to the situation, because Rose is ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery, he will. ‘‘No doubt he will [play],’’ the source said Friday. Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 22. The Bulls immediately ruled him out for the season. He started shooting and taking part in two-a-day workouts during the last week, but his status in returning this NBA season hasn’t changed.”
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal talked to Mike Brown about Anthony Bennett, whose rookie season has not exactly gone according to plan: “When I asked Brown about the discrepancy tonight between Bennett and the other rookies, he said he’d send Tyler Zeller down before Dion Waiters because Waiters was the fourth pick in the draft and “you have visions of thinking, ‘This guy can help us sooner than later.’” It was a clumsy example, which Brown himself seemed to realize about halfway through. But here’s the underlying point someone else mentioned to me tonight and I think has merit. In a polite way, Brown is saying Bennett has too much talent for the D-League. But he obviously can’t say that because then it’s a slight to everyone else in the D-League, including his own guys like Felix and Karasev. The Cavs privately believe if Bennett was getting the type of minutes Victor Oladipo is getting in Orlando (32 per night), he’d put up numbers comparable to Oladipo, who is averaging 13.7 points, but shooting just 41 percent (30 percent on 3-pointers). We’ll never know, of course, because the Cavs are in win-now mode and Brown obviously doesn’t believe Bennett can help them win right now.”
- The Raptors are about as respectable as it gets in the East these days outside of Miami and Indiana, and so Michael Grange of SportsNet.ca writes that it’s time to forgive the man whose defection cut off their last brush at being a contender. Here’s a snippet, focusing on how Vince Carter is doing in Dallas: “It’s been seven years since Carter was an all-star, but he isn’t a late-career gunner trying to avoid retirement. He’s a valued sixth man and respected elder statesman. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban brought Carter to Dallas as an affordable piece—after earning about $140 million in his last two contracts, Carter is now playing for $3 million a year—to help extend Dirk Nowitzki’s championship window. The big German has been a Carter fan since they were drafted together in 1998, and is no less so now that he’s played with him in their mutual career twilight. “He’s not that athletic anymore, but he’s so smart out there,” says Nowitzki. “And at the end of the game, you feel like it’s his time. When the pressure rises, he’s great.” Standing in a tunnel at American Airlines Center in Dallas earlier this season, Cuban gushed describing an athlete of such talent and grit that the Basketball Hall of Fame should induct him now, rather than waiting for retirement. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” says Cuban. “People around here say we have to get Dirk another title. I want to get Vince a title as bad as I want to get Dirk another one. He’s made us a smarter, better organization. He comes to play. He takes charges—he takes pride in taking charges. Like all of us, he’s grown up. I want him to stay here the rest of his career.””
- With Joel Embiid shooting up draft boards, the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz wonders what could happen if the Magic land the #1 pick: “The Magic can extend center Nik Vucevic’s contract at season’s end, and Vooch tells me, “I’d love to be in Orlando for a while.” Here comes a curveball: If the Magic land the No. 1 pick in the draft, do they select Kansas big man Joel Embiid when they have Vooch? Do they trade the pick? Do they deal Vucevic? Do the Magic try to play them together? Or do they select someone else in the draft and continue building with Vucevic? First thought: How bizarre would it be if the Magic had to make another decision on two more centers after the Dwightmare? My guess is that Magic GM Rob Hennigan will consider all options. No disrespect to Vooch, but the smart execs don’t fall in love with the players on their roster, especially when they’re in the rebuilding business. Hennigan has been collecting assets for a reason. If Hennigan feels Embiid has a higher ceiling and apparently offers what Vucevic can’t – a shot-blocker and floor-runner as a poor man’s Hakeem Olajuwon — he’ll take him. Maybe Hennigan would then put together a mega-package for Vooch, looking to acquire more pieces. Or perhaps he assembles a package with Embiid as the centerpiece. Either way, it can be an Orlando win.”
- Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams looks at the evolution of DeMarcus Cousins: “Four years into a tumultuous career, he may finally understand what he’s supposed to be. His definition of leadership would have made John Wooden beam. “Leadership is being the best example you can be for your teammates,” Cousins said before a recent game. “The guy that everybody can depend on on a nightly basis. A leader is a guy [whose] energy and aura can control the people around you. It’s not about your image. It’s about going out every night and leading a group of guys by example and not just necessarily speaking.” “To be honest, I’ve been a leader for a while now,” he continued. “It’s just I haven’t led in the best way possible. That’s what I want to learn. I’m a guy that a lot of people look up to. I haven’t always handled situations the right way. That’s why I have to continue to grow and be a better player, a better leader.” Cousins received a technical foul in his next game against the Utah Jazz. He was charged with another one the following night in Phoenix, upping his league-high total to 10. People inside the Kings organization speak of a new DeMarcus Cousins, one who is drastically more mature than the 19-year-old kid who entered the league. Still, the product is not finished. “At this point it resides in him,” said Geoff Petrie, the former Kings general manager who drafted Cousins. “It really does. He’s going to determine what his career is. Obviously, he’s going to play for a long time and make a lot of money, all those peripheral things. But what it actually stands for is up to him.””
Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.