Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

If Carmelo Leaves Knicks, Could We Really Blame Him?


The question all of Knicks nation and beyond is waiting to be answered: Is Carmelo Anthony going to stay in New York? Something that seemed like a foregone conclusion now carries weight as one of the 2014 offseason’s biggest questions as Melo is sure to opt out and hit free agency.

Fans appear to be split on whether or not they want Anthony back. For those who don’t it’s likely about wanting to blow the entire thing up and rebuild. Surely an understandable and perhaps the smartest option. This team plays like a rebuilder with the price tag of a champion and it’s rather embarrassing. There will be future free agents to covet and when the timing and money are right, go after them in the summers of 2015 & 2016.

If he decides to leave, many of those that do admire and love him could switch favor. It isn’t looked upon well in a city when the superstar can stay and chooses to leave, especially for less money (see LeBron James). Whether it’s because they see him as a traitor or automatically root for the competition, Carmelo will no longer be adored in New York. They’ll even be a contingent that didn’t want him to stay but are still mad because he left and wasn’t traded.

With that, there should be no argument of his contribution to the Knicks or his skill. There is good reason for so many fans in this city to love and appreciate Carmelo. He has consistently shown up to compete throughout this dreadful season while many of his teammates have not. With his supporting cast regressed beyond belief, Anthony has single-handedly kept the Knicks afloat in games the entire season. He’s attempted to save the season himself and while it was an inspired effort, it was to no avail.

Let’s remember without Carmelo last year’s success would’ve been impossible and he helped New York basketball gain back some lost relevance. There will be some who will put down the trade for him altogether being that the Knicks haven’t come close to accomplishing the goal that was set when we got Carmelo. There is a ton of truth in that; I just would say there are places to point fingers way before Anthony for that.

Still, after forcing his way here, the team giving up a village of pieces for him and getting the maximum dollars Anthony up and leaving could ignite the type of hatred Cleveland fans have for LeBron. They’ll be those who wouldn’t despise Carmelo or consider him a traitor, just like Cleveland has some fans like that. In fact here, there will be a contingent of fans who don’t blame him at all for leaving.

While both sides of the coin can be understood, what can’t be disputed is the truth. No matter how embarrassing it is or hurtful it feels to see the star of the team walk; it’s hard not to see why. The Knicks are a sinking ship that will not be able to get itself upright for more than an entire season. From day one the organization has failed to place and keep the adequate pieces around Anthony for the team to prosper.

If Anthony is going to stay, he needs to be convinced by brass of a long term plan to succeed. Otherwise, he loses the credibility to say what he cares most about is winning. Personally, I want Carmelo to take the $30 million extra, stay in New York and be the centerpiece of the new-look Knicks in 2015. However, it requires a lot of Anthony to accept one more season of the team being bad unless it finds a way to unload large contracts earlier than expected.

Besides, if Anthony takes less money to try and win a championship, how could we really bash him? He gets killed for the fact that he hasn’t won and it’s not like other stars haven’t had to team up with talent to get the ring (Again, see LeBron James). It isn’t something that should be frowned upon like it was when LeBron first did it. It’s either feel wrath for selfishly taking the money and staying or wrath for not taking the pay cut and trying to win. Can’t please everyone, Melo.

The criteria so many people, right or not, go to first when looking back and judging stars is the championships. The game is played to be won and taking less money to go for a championship is the sign of an unselfish athlete. Logically, how could we really blame Carmelo for thinking ‘team’ and ‘win’ instead of dollars and cents?

If Melo stays, we are having a different conversation. Where those contingents of fans decide whether he just wants the money or to ride it out long-term in New York with hopes of winning. Unless a plan is unveiled sometime soon, it will be hard to convince people that winning is his No. 1 priority. Only time will tell, but if Melo decided to walk away because he desperately wants to win—and soon, who could blame him?

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