Shots are finite. Glory is infinite!
Yes, Adrian Wojnarowski has mentioned the Warriors as a potential suitor to Melo, and no, it probably won’t happen. But why would anyone want it to?
Arbiters of sports opinion have treated the Nuggets as though they are Anthony’s extension–the vehicle for his fame and legend.This whole sports industry is built on vicarious living, after all. In the moment you watch a game, you are transported from a dreary existence to another team’s ephemeral glories. But in our individualistic, celebrity-driven, modern way, it’s not enough to glom onto a collectivist triumph. One man should not just hog the credit, but in fact be the credit. So we can be that guy.
Back in 2005 Kobe Bryant was a thrill to watch in a way he just isn’t now. He owned explosiveness to pair with 35 foot fadeaway jumpers, he’d take shots that just didn’t fit in the context of professionalism. And when Kobe started rattling off fifty-point rain dances, observers couldn’t help but emotionally invest in a) his stats and b) the difficulty with which he’d get them.
Around that time, my uncle was kind enough to distribute some Warriors vs. Lakers tickets at Staples. It was a shock to my basketball system: A porn convention concurrently unfolded outside, the arena looked decorated not with just banners, but adorned with people who served as the event’s jabbering, silicon-pumped glitter. A curtain descended from the rafters as a crescendo blasted. Projected dinosaur-sized images of Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson shimmered across the veil. We have nothing like this at Oracle.
From first tip to final shot, the crowd was frothing. They had no beef with Monta Eliis, who was carving that night. No, they hated Walton. And Odom. And anyone who would deign take a shot from the Hero.
“Pass it to KOBE!”
Every Bryant score sent a pleasure murmur through the crowd as eyes glazed and grown men squealed. Whenever another player shot–even if he converted–the throng reacted as though a pitcher had intentionally walked Hammerin’ Hank on 714.
“He has 35 now! (Unprintable) Odom, KOBE could get 50. Get him the rock!”
The borg-like entity had funneled their love, had become wholly obsessed with one man’s quest for a very specific kind of greatness. And today, the Lakers sell shirts that brag about Kobe’s “Five Rings,” as though those championships don’t matter as much as the fact Kobe got them.
So what does this have to do with Carmelo Anthony? Well, we obsess over him for many of the same reasons we focus on Bryant. When Melo’s draining shots in the playoffs, the casual fan gets swept up in the drama (How many shots in a row can he hit? Will he score the game winner?). The other facets of the game fade into periphery, blur as we look for the next Anthony bucket. And those memories of off-balance jumpers linger longer than anything from a Denver playoff exit.
Nene and the Birdman, those guys hoop in a parallel universe that the fan is barely aware of. Their toil is meaningful in real basketball terms, but it is largely ignored by the culture that was molded to fetishize MJ. As NBA fans, we see ourselves in the perimeter scorer, not the rebounding big.
Anthony’s Wins Produced number is a paltry 5.93, his plus-minus is a shrug-worthy 3.5. Advanced stats aside, this makes sense to me. Simplistically put, Carmelo doesn’t do much, other than score. When he’s not shooting, another guy is taking, and sometimes converting with greater efficiency. Melo’s greatest skill is the ability to take many, many, shots without causing George Karl yank to him.
So no, I don’t want to trade a Stephen Curry package for Carmelo Anthony. Melo would make an impact wispy as his stache, for piles of cash stashed higher than stars. The only reason I wrote this was to show how CarmeLove stems from the disease that plagued the Warriors into death-bed hacking. Average efficiency scoring at the expense of defense? Lavishing PR attention on ballhogs? Any of this sound familiar? The Warriors shouldn’t acquire Anthony, they should acquire a taste for winning basketball–and that means looking for players, not avatars.