Now that the Miami Heat’s LeBron James won his title and appears to be back on everyone’s good side, it’s time for NBA fans and critics to find a new whipping boy.
Depending on whom you ask, the New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony and the Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard are competing for the honor of the player everyone loves to hate.
Howard’s hate from most NBA fans is different it’s self-inflicted as similar to LeBron he brought a lot of it on himself the past couple of seasons.
However people still like to take shots at ‘Melo.
The latest to pile on Anthony was The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, as he referred to the Knicks’ All-Star forward as an “overrated ball hog” and said that Anthony will never “be an NBA champion.”
That prompted Knicks head coach Mike Woodson to stick up for his superstar, telling The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola:
“Me personally I don’t really care what other people think about Carmelo Anthony,” Mike Woodson said on Wednesday. “Those people are not around Carmelo every day. I see Carmelo pretty much every day. I see his teammates every day. I know the work the young man has put in as a player. A lot of these people probably never played basketball in their life. They make these comments about Melo not being committed and they don’t think this and think that. I think Carmelo is damn committed and he’s been that way since I’ve taken over the team. That’s the only thing I can judge him by.”
Personally I think Howard is the more hated player, mostly due to his immaturity the last couple of seasons. That being said, Anthony is the NBA’s most scrutinized player.
He’s stepped right into LeBron’s shoes as the best player never to win a title, but unlike LeBron, ‘Melo has had next to no playoff success at this point in his career.
That alone has painted a big bullseye on his back for unwarranted criticism from people like Shaughnessy.
Where’s Shaughnessy’s hate coming from?
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Anthony is the leading scorer in the series, having dropped 70 points in two games as the Knicks have taken a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics.
However it likely has more to do with the fact that Anthony’s career playoff record is 19-37 and he’s advanced past the first round only one time.
He’s been viewed by some as a selfish player throughout his career and critics are quick to note that he’s a ball hog who has never done anything to help his team’s win. The way he forced his way out of Denver in 2011 hasn’t done much to help his selfish reputation, but Knicks fans know better. They’ve seen a different Anthony this season. One that will play defense, pass out of double teams and trust his teammates more than he ever has in the past.
Shaughnessy will point to the fact that Anthony shoots the ball a lot. Well that’s what top scorers in this league do. Always have and always will.
We haven’t seen too much “Melo Ball” this season as Anthony has done his best to shake that selfish and ball-hog label that he has had throughout his career. It’s too bad Shaughnessy didn’t pay attention to that during the season.
But the point is whether it’s warranted or not, critics like Shaughnessy are going to come out of the woodworks this time of year.
There’s only one way for ‘Melo to silence them and that’s to do exactly what LeBron did a season ago.
That’s simply to lead the Knicks to a championship.
Whether or not he’s capable of that remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure and that he is off to a good start.
With two more wins over the Celtics, Anthony will have led the Knicks out of the first round for the first time. When that happens it will be interesting to see what Shaughnessy has to say then.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.