First of all, I know that this is a New Jersey Nets blog, but something has infuriated me so much, I had to share. Also, the content of this post has to do with Carmelo Anthony, a player who has been making a ton of noise in Nets land recently. Actually, he's been a lingering buzz for a few months now, but with trades going down throughout the NBA, which include the Nets gaining assets, Melo hasn't been more prevalent in Nets news as he is now.
In any case, recently, a friend on Facebook who is a lifelong Knicks fan, but hasn't even watched any Knicks games since the mid-2000s (who can blame him, really) has caught on with the team now that they're playing well. In no way is my friend a bandwagon fan as he only roots for the Knicks, but found a distaste in his mouth in recent seasons (which is why this season is/was ripe for the Nets to snatch away some Knicks fans... oh well). However, now that the Knicks have their superstar in Amar'e Stoudemire (I would say that a combination of Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler are even more important, but that's me) and actually winning games, my Knicks friend has elevated his expectations, both in getting Melo and the Knicks going to the Finals. Below is the exchange on Facebook.
Knicks Friend: Well, it was the Knicks who got crushed (Note that this was after the Heat game). But you know what? In the first half, I actually ENJOYED watching this team tonight for the first time in YEARS! They play an exciting, fast-paced, West Coast style of basketball. There's potential! If they get Carmelo Anthony, I think they're a bonafide contender!
Me: Contend to make the playoffs, sure. Win a title? No way. Even the fast-paced and flashy Lakers teams of the 80s played defense... this team doesn't.
Knicks Friend: Dennis, this team is a playoff team NOW. If they get 'Melo, they'll be knocking on the door of the finals...
Me: (Knicks Friend), Melo was on better Denver teams that had some tough interior play (Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, Nene, et al.) and veteran players with big-time playoff experience/NBA title (Chauncey Billups) and STILL couldn't get past the first round in six of his seven NBA seasons. Also, Melo isn't known as a leader in the locker room and is basically a follower. He's a volume scorer, meaning he needs a ton of shots to score 25 a night. He won't make a good team great (but can make a shitty team like the Nets good). Besides, in the East, you have the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Chicago Bulls there and they have great interior players and really good point guards, as well as play hard-nosed defense. Not to crap on your enthusiasm, but the truth is that Melo won't make a difference. If the Knicks got a young Tim Duncan-type, then, they could get to the Finals.
Me Again: Also, forgot to mention the Miami Heat in the East... but the reason they won't make it to the Finals either is because they lack an interior presence. Look at recent champs and you'll know how important that is - Lakers (Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom/earlier in the decade Shaq), Celtics (Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis), Spurs (Tim Duncan, period), and Pistons (Ben Wallace - 12.4 boards and 3.0 blocks a game, as well as a four-time Defensive Player of the Year). The only anomaly in recent years is the Miami Heat when Wade dominated, BUT Shaq was still pretty good then (20 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG). Wade's Heat team aside, what do all of the aforementioned have in common? INTERIOR DEFENSE. The Knicks have none and Melo doesn't play ANY defense.
Me Yet Again: I'll keep it simple. The Knicks are second in the league in scoring (107.9 PPG), but third in opposing team scoring (107.3). Considering that they have played mediocre/poor teams for the most part until recently (and the Celtics didn't even have Rajon Rondo or Perkins on the floor), they should score a ton in D'Antoni's system versus those type of teams. But, consider they also gave up a ton of points to those same crappy teams. Imagine what happens during the playoffs when defense is the key and the Knicks probably don't score as many points, but still give them up.
So, there ended my rant. To say that Knicks fans who think their team is better than it is riles me up is an understatement. As has been mentioned previously, I'm like Jay-Z to some extent (but nowhere near as good-looking... yeah, that's sarcasm, folks) - we grew up as Knicks fans, but now he is part-owner of the Nets and I blog about them, so I know what I'm talking about with the Knicks. Right now they are the polar opposite of the great Knicks teams I grew up with when Patrick Ewing was the man in the middle, surrounded by tough players like Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and John Starks. The current team is undoubtedly exciting to watch, but like a one-legged man (missing the "play defense" leg), this Knicks team won't get far. Even with Melo.