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Yes, Knicks got their guy, but it's the wrong guy

by | CBSSports.com Columnist

So having failed to cure the New York Knickerbockers of their essential Knickitude, Carmelo Anthony is now declared part of the problem rather than the solution.

That's how it rolls in your National Basketball Association, though. When you're cast as an instantaneous savior, you'd better be instantaneously saving, or the only thing you'll be trying to save is your own considerable hind.

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That Anthony could not immediately make the Knicks the Heat, Celtics or Bulls should come as no surprise. He's a superb scorer, but he is not, never has been, and never will be a transformative figure. The Knicks went after him with their customary gotta-have-it-gotta-have-it-gotta-have-it fervor because he was the best thing on the shelf at the time, and the Knicks don't put off shopping just because the goods don't meet their needs.

What is more interesting is how quickly basketball fans went from "The Knicks got their guy" to "The Knicks got the wrong guy." Indeed, the Knicks did get their guy, and they did get the wrong guy, because they wanted Anthony to be something he is not.

A team-turner.

The Knicks are 7-9 since the Anthony trade, and that's not because Anthony is some kind of failure. It's because the Knicks are an average team in a conference with four good teams, and they're not one of them. They used to be awful and now they're hit and miss. Anthony wasn't going to change that, because Anthony is what he is, not what the Knicks and their fans wanted him to be.

In the history of the NBA, there are few players who recreate a team by moving, or destroy their old team by leaving. Anthony isn't one of those, though it is always possible he could be the first significant piece in a makeover that recreates the Knicks.

The Knicks' 7-9 record since acquiring Melo has many thinking New York made a bad choice. (Getty Images)  
The Knicks' 7-9 record since acquiring Melo has many thinking New York made a bad choice. (Getty Images)  
And let's be frank here. We don't even know that LeBron James is that yet, either. He did help blow the Cavaliers to smithereens, but he went to Miami to make the Heat a champion again, and we still don't know how that's going to turn out.

Now do we need to say that Carmelo Anthony is not LeBron James?

No, Anthony, through no fault of anything except the terms of his Denver contract, became Mr. Right when what he actually was Mr. Right Now.

But to understand that, one needs to pull back from the heat of the moment, and the problem with the Anthony deal was that it created a lot of heat without the commensurate amount of light. And in your modern physics-defying sporting landscape, heat travels much faster than light.

Therein lies the Carmelo Anthony issue in a nutshell. He was asked by those patient souls in New York and in NBA chat rooms to be something more than Carmelo Anthony simply because he went to New York, which is still supposed to be a magical place despite the fact that the Knicks have a history of being anything but.

And they asked him to be that immediately, with no discernible help. Now that is simply madness. Madness that will not subside just because logic demands it.

It's Melo. It's the Knicks. It's supposed to be something special -- just because it is. And if it isn't, it's because Anthony wasn't what he purported to be.

But that is the fault mostly of the purporters rather than Anthony. They got stars in their eyes because they wanted stars in their eyes. They convinced themselves this was it, and they put in an entire fifth of a season before they decided they'd been had, and blamed the instrument rather than the musicians.

And the musicians, they need to acknowledge, are themselves.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com


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