Who, in the National Basketball Association, should be deemed as “superstars”?
Why are they “superstars”? Well, for one, they hustle for 48 minutes a night for 82 games. They put in as much effort on the offensive end as they would on the defensive end and vice versa. They act as the leader of their team. And they’ll dive for every loose ball or jump for any ball that’s up in the air.
Lets go into why:
1. On Monday night’s matchup vs. the Bulls, Amar’e Stoudemire had three rebounds. Let that sink in. Three rebounds. And how many offensive rebounds did the Bulls have? Oh, a measly 22 offensive boards compared to the Knicks’ 9. I cannot tell you how many times I saw Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah jump and leap over everybody to grab the ball while Amar’e just stood there, as if he had no chance of grabbing the rebound. Amar’e is 6’11″, he could have grabbed several of those rebounds without question. It’s as if he just wants no part in playing defense. Hell, Jeremy Lin had three blocks Monday night. How many times has Amar’e had three or more blocks this season? Zero times. That’s right, Jeremy Lin outblocked Amar’e Stoudemire. Want more proof of Stoudemire’s lack of dedication to defense? On Sunday, Tyson Chandler instructed Amar’e to guard Evan Turner because he had a clear path to the hoop. As Turner proceeded to jump and dunk the ball, what did Amar’e do? He just stepped away and wanted nothing to do with him at all. That’s not an exaggeration at all. Tyson literally directed Amar’e to guard Turner and he didn’t even listen. Just slid away and didn’t want to play defense at all. What kind of “superstar” just consistently refuses to play defense at all?
2. Carmelo Anthony’s body language during this losing streak and, well, since his return, has been nothing short of atrocious. The guy just wants to shoot, and shoot, and shoot. Well you know what, basketball isn’t just shooting. It’s about shooting, passing, rebounding, stealing, defending, and blocking. Whenever Carmelo doesn’t get the rock he looks pissed off and dismayed. During the Knicks’ loss to the Mavericks, Carmelo kept smiling and kept chumming it up with some Knicks fans. Keep in mind, this was when the Knicks were losing. What leader smiles and chums with fans during a loss? Have you ever seen Kevin Durant smile and chum around with some OKC fans during a loss? No, you haven’t because Kevin Durant is a leader and a real “superstar”. When D’Antoni sits Carmelo on the bench because he can’t make any shots, yet keeps shooting like there’s no tomorrow, he looks pissed off and infuriated. Now some don’t understand why D’Antoni sometimes sits him when the Knicks are in a tight game. I’m not the world’s biggest D’Antoni fan but I agree with him when he does it. Carmelo may be a “closer” and such but shooting 8-21, 5-13, and 2-12 isn’t helping your team, it’s just hurting it. And considering Carmelo doesn’t really play a lick of defense either, he’s basically a black hole if he isn’t making shots. When Carmelo has the stroke, he’s pretty much unstoppable but he hasn’t had that stroke much this season. It’s a good chance it’s the system. Mike D’Antoni’s system is an up-tempo system that doesn’t have any real use for ISO situations. Carmelo is pure ISO. But to me, that’s no excuse. Kobe Bryant played how many years in the triangle before playing in Mike Brown’s system? Have you seen him complaining or failing to adjust? No, he hasn’t. In fact, Kobe is having a great year. If Carmelo wants to be the “superstar” he should be acting like, he needs to stop sulking and start acting like a team leader by hustling on every play and being a team player rather than a selfish player.
3. Ah, leadership. This is what our two “superstars” are really lacking. Where in the hell is the leadership? There is no doubt that Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are the team’s two most talented players. As such, they should be the leaders of this team, just like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are for the Heat. But they aren’t, simply put. They’re not addressing their flaws or improving upon their flaws. They’re not calling the group meetings. They’re not acting leaders on the court. Keep in mind, outside of Amar’e, Carmelo, and Tyson, this is a relatively young squad. So where is the leadership mainly coming from? It’s coming from Tyson Chandler. And while Tyson should be one of the leaders of this team, he shouldn’t be the only leader. Amar’e and Carmelo should be as vocal as Tyson has been, if not more vocal. This may sound like nitpicking but for two guys that are making over $18 million dollars each, they should be doing a lot of things off-the-court as well as on-the-court.
Tonight marked the 70th game since Carmelo Anthony joined the Knicks. It’s quite clear the experiment has been an utter failure so far. Let’s be real, the results haven’t been that pretty. So where do we go from here?
Blow up the team and start from scratch? That route isn’t quite easy. While Carmelo is certainly movable, Amar’e and his uninsured knees certainly aren’t.
Stick with this squad? Well if we do, and continue to lose this season, guess who has our first round pick? Not us, but the Houston Rockets. Remember our good old friend Tracy McGrady? Well we traded our first to acquire McGrady/dump Jared Jeffries and it’s only top five protected. So unless the Knicks continue to bomb the rest of the season, we have no pick in the first round. Keep in mind, this is probably the most loaded class since the legendary class of 2003.
Fire the coach? What good will that do? There’s no way D’Antoni comes back next year anyway. And do you really want Mike Woodson coaching this team? Look how well the Hawks have played post-Woodson. That’s no coincidence.
What do I think we should do?
I really don’t know. The rational side of me says to see what this group can do in a different coach’s system. It might just be D’Antoni, it might not be. There’s no real way to know. But the emotional side of me has a much different idea. The emotional side of me wants to blow this up and build around Tyson, Lin, and Shumpert. I know, it’s crazy. But I really think Lin, with some more experience under his belt, can be a great young point guard, Tyson is an elite center and an excellent leader, and Iman is an excellent defender and someone who can be very valuable for this team in the future. And I really love the draft class this year. There’s some real talent in this year’s draft that I would love to have on the Knicks. Obviously, Carmelo can net a high pick or two, but Amar’e won’t be able to net anything due to his knees. Again, this is just the emotional part of me speaking but I’m slowly starting to think this might be the only path to success considering how much of a disaster the Amar’e and Carmelo duo has been.
Of course, things can change. If Amar’e and Carmelo start to play some defense and show some hustle, they may be able to regain their “superstar” statuses. But until then, they are just selfish, overpaid players that refuse to play defense.