NEW YORK — Took time out from the riveting media sessions leading up to the Super Bowl — Broncos coach John Fox: “I’m happy about the Chinese new year, and I’m happy that the animal is a horse” — to check in on the latest chapter in Carmelo Anthony’s love/hate relationship with whatever team happens to be paying him gobs of cash at any given moment.
That’s right, the Melodrama is back. Did you miss it?
Stop me when this sounds familiar: Anthony can opt out of his contract with the Knicks at the end of the season and he’s trying to figure out if the hardwood would be shinier someplace else.
He engaged in a similar Hamlet-like wrestling match with himself in Denver three years ago before the Nuggets, convinced he would leave as a free agent, traded him to New York and the bright lights, big city he craved. Remember how some Nuggets fans blamed Anthony’s wife, La La, for his determination to flee Denver? Remember the theory that she needed a bigger stage for her burgeoning career as a professional celebrity?
Well, they might have had a point. Monday was release day for her literary debut, The Love Playbook, with book signings all over Manhattan, appearances on the national morning TV shows and everything. But back to our rerun.
“I definitely think he will stay,” La La said Sunday on Bravo TV’s Watch What Happens Live. “I know that he wants to stay, and I support him wherever he wants to go.”
Wait, what? I know that he wants to stay, and I support him wherever he wants to go.
Anyway, here’s the money quote:
“Listen, I used to live in Denver with him. If I can live in Denver, I can live anywhere. I just want him to be happy.”
If I can live in Denver, I can live anywhere.
Odd echoes of the Sinatra line about New York — If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere — but not quite the same meaning.
The backlash was swift, and so was the back-pedal.
“Let me clarify this REAL QUICK,” she tweeted the following day. “When I said last night, ‘if I can live in Denver, I can live anywhere’ I meant living in a place with no family and no friends. I meant moving my entire life to a place I had never even been to before. In no way was I trying to disrespect Denver. I enjoyed Denver tremendously & love the city. — La La”
Glad we got that straightened out.
Anthony’s problem, of course, is the usual. He’s second in the NBA in scoring at 27.1 points per game, but his team stinks. At the moment, the Knicks are 18-27. In the woeful Eastern Conference, this record puts them just a half-game out of the playoff bracket. This is not good news for the Nuggets, who are owed the Knicks’ first-round pick in the coming NBA draft as part of the trade that sent him east in 2011.
If the Knicks miss the playoffs, that pick ends up in the draft lottery and could prove invaluable in a draft with some elite talent at the top. Because the West is so much stronger than the East, the Nuggets have a better record than the Knicks (22-21) but a worse position in the standings (2 1/2 games out of the playoff bracket). The Nuggets have to send the inferior of their draft picks to Orlando as part of the trade that brought them Andre Iguodala — temporarily, as it turns out — in 2012.
It’s all rather complicated, but one lesson seems clear: The Knicks wish they had their draft pick back. The Nuggets wish they had their draft pick back. Maybe this trading future draft picks for big-name players isn’t such a hot idea. But that’s another column.
In any case, that blockbuster 2011 trade isn’t working out that well for either team. The Nuggets received Danilo Gallinari, who blew out his knee last spring; Wilson Chandler, a talent who does more tantalizing than producing; Raymond Felton, who was exchanged for Andre Miller, who is now on indefinite leave from the team; and Timofey Mozgov, a nice if uninspiring big man. Neither team looks any closer to a championship now than when they made the deal.
Anthony’s comments about his situation are similar to his comments in Denver back in 2010. All he wants to do is win. He wants to go wherever that can happen.
“Championship is the only thing that’s on my mind, is the only thing I want to accomplish, I want to achieve,” he told reporters this week. “I’m going to do what I got to do to get that.”
Actually, he’s not. To get that, he probably needs to become a better team player rather than the sensational, one-dimensional scorer he has been throughout his career. In 10 seasons before this one, he has never appeared in an NBA Finals and only one conference final. His friend and peer, LeBron James, has won two titles and has his sights set on catching Kobe Bryant (five) and Michael Jordan (six). Melo, meanwhile, seems doomed to the Dominique Wilkins career path — lots of points, zero titles — unless he can hitch his wagon to somebody else’s team of horses.
The only way to lose his tag as a scorer who doesn’t make anybody else better is to win a championship or two, a feat he seems further from today than three years ago when he fled the Nuggets.
“The important thing is winning a championship; that’s the only way to shake it,” Bryant said the other day. “That’s the only way Michael shook it. That’s the only way any top scorer will be able to shake it.”
The Lakers are one team likely to have the space under the salary cap to sign Anthony if he’s a free agent on the open market this summer, but it’s not at all clear that adding another ballhog to a team that features the aging Bryant would give Kobe his best chance at title No. 6.
This isn’t our problem in Denver anymore, except insofar as it would help the Nuggets if the Knicks stink it up as badly as possible this season.
But think of poor La La.
“I get blamed for everything,” she said on Bravo. “No matter what happens, it’s my fault . . . I’m somehow the mastermind behind if he stays or not.”
Cue the late Warren Zevon: Poor Poor Pitiful Me.
By all accounts, La La’s book publicity tour is going swimmingly. It’s all about love and sex.
“The love at my book signing in NY yesterday was amazing!” she tweeted today. “Come out today at 7pm 271 Livingston street, Northvale, NJ Can’t wait to see you!!!”