Great teams need more then great players. They need leadership on and off the court. The New York Yankees have Derek Jeter. The Miami Heat has LeBron James. The great Boston Celtics teams had Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havilcek and Larry Bird. The Los Angeles Lakers had Jerry West then Magic Johnson.
The New York Knicks had Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and now we have Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony made a huge step towards being a leader on Tuesday in his support of Amar’e Stoudemire. Carmelo spoke out to ESPN, when he reported the chance to play with Stoudemire was “one of the reasons I wanted to come to New York.”
This alone was a statement made by a leader; statements like this bring teams together. Statements like this are seen and respected by all. Remember prior to Carmelo coming to New York, this was Stoudemire’s team. He was the king of New York.
From ‘Melo’s first day that quickly changed and Amar’e had to take a backseat to Carmelo. Throughout the transition, STAT took it like a man. He sacrificed his ego for the best of the team.
The reporters all jumped on the bandwagon saying the two could not play together. The fact is these are both great players and if used correctly they can of course not only play together, but work well together.
Wilt Chamberlain learned that to win a championship he had to be a better teammate to win and in 1968 led not only his team but the NBA in assists, no center had ever done this before or since.
My father told me there are three ways to lead:
1. Is by example
2. Is by example
3. Is by example
Anthony led by example. This is what great teams, great seasons are built upon.
Last year prior to Stoudemire’s injury they actually looked good on the court together. Fact is reporters, have never taken into account they have never prior had a training camp together, yet alone play a season together. Championships are built on respect, chemistry, talent and fellowship.
The Knicks current roster is more talented than the Dallas team that won the championship a few years back. Tyson Chandler wasn’t too short, or not center enough then.
New York has embraced Carmelo; New York is his town now. If he will continue to speak out and support and push his teammates, New York has a real chance. Listen to his words in regard to his teammate. Ian Begley of ESPN reported:
“As a friend, it’s hard for me to sit back and act like it doesn’t bother me because I know how hard of a worker he is [and] I know the time that he puts in the gym to train and rehab,” Anthony said Tuesday.
He went on to report, “To see him go forward and then take some steps back every time, it’s just sad.”
“It’s another weapon that we need,” Anthony said. “We could have used him last season at certain points. For him to get a fresh start off of this season, we need him. He’s a big key to this team’s success.”
This is a tough team a talented team. Who wouldn’t want to go to war with Metta World, Kenyon Martin, Chandler and Anthony? No one at Rucker playground will mess with this group.
If Andrea Bargnani learns from this group and Stoudemire stays healthy, the talent is there. But you need fifteen soldiers to win this war. Carmelo is tough enough, talented enough to bring this team together.
When a star talks about how he cares, how he wants him back will make a player go to war with another. Any player who has played in the playgrounds of New York knows what it means to have a teammate in your corner. Today was a great day for Carmelo and the Knicks.
Now hopefully players like Raymond Felton will learn from this. Ray, enough about the chip on your shoulder, enough about Portland. Sacrifice yourself for your teammates, worry about them, more than yourself.
Learn from Carmelo and Chandler. Leadership can be electric and contagious. We know Anthony can score, let him lead the league in leadership this year and the possibly of a championship may follow.
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a Best Selling author www.drerickaplan.com