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Can I get a mulligan?
Seriously. My Wednesday night was a roller-coaster, I left work and immediately found out my first piece was being published here at SoB. On Facebook and Twitter, reaction was overwhelmingly positive. I felt like the Internet gave me one big congratulatory handshake and pat on the back. Then Melo happened. Suddenly, I felt like Joey Porter and the 2001 Pittsburgh Steelers, who announced they had booked hotel rooms in New Orleans for Super Bowl 36 prior to the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. The Steelers would go on to lose that game, and now I know the depths of embarrassment they felt while cancelling their trip to Bourbon Street.
I looked on, in horror, as Carmelo Anthony shredded the Celtics defense, scoring 42 points, in a performance Marv Albert deemed comparable to Knicks’ legend Bernard King and his playoff outbursts in the 1980′s. By the way, that comparison was made with 10 minutes left in the game. Dear God.
It wasn’t a cheap 42 points either. Melo was efficient, shooting nearly 50% from the field (14-30). To make matters worse, Anthony found every other way imaginable to contribute to the New York cause, grabbing 17 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. The complete game. Dare I say, a peformance worthy of being called a ‘hero’?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
But – and there is a but – even with all those pretty numbers being laid across the kitchen table, Carmelo’s late game
heroics mistakes in Game 1 were still vital to the Knicks winning this series. Put the numbers from Game 1 and Game 2 against each other. Melo went to the line 11 times in his virtuoso performance in Game 2; however, he only visited the charity stripe 4 times in the previous contest. The drastic difference could be explained by the early foul trouble Anthony had in Game 1, although he was able to overcome that issue and score 12 points in the second quarter and only carried 2 fouls into the third quarter. Clearly, he could have engaged himself more in the second half. Additionally, Melo only had 4 rebounds in Game 1, which is less than a quarter of the total he amassed in Game 2.
This performance will be remembered, exaggerated to the point of being a hyperbole, and sketched into the anals of NBA history as an analogous of Lebron’s 48 special. And that’s probably fair, after all, James and Anthony both were playing with what seemed like a bunch of dudes at your weekly YMCA open court pick up game, rather then NBA players. This aspect was epitomized whenever Jared Jeffries (10 points, game ending turnover), Bill Walker (0-11 from the field), or any other Knick were asked to do….anything. The Knicks, sans Anthony as well as Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire who were both relegated to the bench because of injury, reminded me of Jason Biggs’ foray into the bedroom with Shannon Elizabeth in American Pie - awkward and, ultimately, disappointing.
I guess, sometimes you have to own the infection known as ‘hero syndrome.’ I still maintain Anthony should have deferred to Stoudemire in Game 1. The truth is there is good ‘hero syndrome’ (Melo’s Game 2 performance; Lebron James during his entire Cleveland stay) and there is bad ‘hero syndrome’ (anytime Reggie Bush touches the ball for the Saints; Melo’s Game 1 decision-making); just like there are accurate observations a writer can make (Knicks being effective with Toney Douglas running the show) and there are fallacies a writer can make (my entire debut column for Sports of Boston).
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