The NBA playoffs were a good distraction to have fans look away from their home teams. The playoff season is done. The off-season has begun, and with comes to talk of what people expect of their teams.
What team has the highest expectations in the NBA? The New York Knicks.
What player has the highest expectations? Carmelo Anthony.
What? The Knicks? The team who got booted out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat in the first round? Yes. Losing to the defending NBA champions tells you something about this New York team. They're not ready. They're not ready to dethrone Miami. The fact of the matter is however that now that LeBron James has a ring, everyone's attention now turns to Carmelo Anthony to deliver New York a championship.
It shouldn't be hard, right? Anthony is complemented with veteran playoff players in Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, sharpshooter Steve Novak, sophomore Iman Shumpert, and, of course, Linsanity himself, Jeremy Lin.
It shouldn't be hard to win then? But it is, and why?
The Knicks do not play as a team. They struggled all season long with trying to blend Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony while changes at the head coach position took place.
No more excuses for the Knicks. The city of New York won't allow it anymore because with a team that has three all-stars and possibly a fourth all-star in Steve Nash pending his signing with the Knicks, a championship run is expected. A playoff berth will not suffice anymore. The unfortunate law of sports though makes the fingers point to Anthony.
But for once, the fingers point correctly to an underlying problem: Carmelo Anthony has to be better than LeBron James.
The difference between Anthony and James is this: James is a complete player who can score, rebound, and most importantly, pass. Anthony averaged 3.6 assists per game. James averaged 6.2 assists per game. You go across the season averages and James eclipses Anthony. That is nothing new because Anthony has forever lived in the shadow of James.
In high school, Anthony was considered the No. 1 player in the nation when he graduated from high school. He brought Syracuse a national championship.
But always holding the spotlight away from Anthony was the phenomenon that was LeBron James. It can no longer be that way if people expect Anthony to bring New York a championship. He has to contribute aside from scoring. We all know he is a scorer, but the problem is because he wants the ball all the time, no one else is getting involved.
A championship-caliber team cannot have just one scorer, and Anthony must realize that. It might get you a national championship, but an NBA championship revolves around your entire team. The Miami Heat proved this year that a team effort earns an NBA championship. Anthony has to realize that while this may be "his team," without the team he plays for, a first-round knockout is the farthest he will get.
The Knicks though need to contribute from all angles. Stoudemire needs remain healthy and rebound. Chandler needs to step up his game and be the playmaker and X-factor that contributed to an NBA championship for the Dallas Mavericks. Lin has gained experience and in his second year with a full season awaiting him, his reaction to the pressure of delivering of championship to New York will be vital to the Knicks. If Nash signs, the Knicks are better, but does it mean they are officially a championship team?
This was said when Amar'e arrived, when Anthony arrived, it can't be said anymore. It does not solidify the Knicks as a championship team, but a team with even higher expectation to win the championship this year.
The Knicks will have to let their play do the talking and show they indeed want to win a championship because without the desire to win and teamwork, no team succeeds in the game of basketball.
The Miami Heat proved it this year that as a team, good things can happen. No more first-round knockouts, the Knicks need to keep fighting for us to unanimously say: "The New York Knicks are a championship team."
Only time will tell, and only the Knicks can make us say this.