Carmelo Anthony toed the foul line Tuesday to the chant of "MVP, MVP" from the Knicks-leaning crowd. Hearing this, I wanted to volley with my own chant: "You have got [pause] to be kidding."
Melo is a very good offensive player about to put the finishing touches on a very good year. He paced the NBA in regular-season scoring and completed the transformation of his defence from dismal to decent. He has certified New York as the only Eastern Conference team that might cause the Miami Heat to lose sleep, though no more than five minutes' worth.
Anthony is no Most Valuable Player, not even close, having been screened out by a classmate in the 2003 draft. It might be growing boring, but LeBron James will lasso his fourth best-of-the-best award in five seasons. The case is open-and-shut, James being a guy who gets open and shuts down opposing scorers.
Measuring anyone against James is akin to comparing a man-made light show to a sunset on a beautiful beach. So, assessing Anthony on his own merits: In nine previous seasons, his team lost eight times in the first round of the play-offs. The exception was a 2009 conference finals with Denver.
No individual bears full responsibility for his team's fate, but stars are supposed to carry an out-sized burden. A clear pattern fits Anthony that suggests he does not elevate others' play.
There is a statistic from Game One of the series with Boston that stands out. Of 26 "touches" in the first half, he made three passes. His final stat line, 36 points scored, was compromised by the assists total: one.
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