Young NBA Stars Learning From Carmelo's and LeBron's Mistakes
There's no better example than the formation of the Miami "Heatles" last summer, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh created their Super Team in such a self-controlling way that their suddenly-empowered contemporaries watched and wondered how they could do the same. But as Carmelo Anthony is experiencing first hand, it's not as easy as it looks.
The Melo-drama has long since become a public relations disaster, with the season at hand almost irrelevant for the teams, and the fan bases in Denver, New Jersey and even Detroit held hostage for weeks by a proposed trade that now seems dead in the water. The situation may have finally affected Anthony himself recently, as Nuggets coach George Karl said Tuesday that his small forward appears "very distracted" and might see reduced playing time as a result.
Yet while Anthony has a ways to go before he is -- and this part depends on your perspective -- either villainized or victimized by public perception like James was and continues to be, his image is certainly taking a hit if only because he's been basking in this burning spotlight for so long. And in the minds of two small-market NBA stars who would appear to be prime candidates to follow in Anthony's ill-fated footsteps, that unsavory development might be enough to inspire some players to avoid copying this cat.
"The grass isn't always greener on the other side," said Indiana small forward Danny Granger, the sixth-year player who signed a five-year, $60 million extension with the Pacers in Nov., 2008. "New York (Anthony's preferred destination) is a bigger market. He'd have a chance for more exposure, but how much more exposure do you really need? Everybody knows who Carmelo Anthony is, you know what I'm saying? Everybody knows who Kevin Durant is and he's in Oklahoma City."
"He's on the brink of (damaging his reputation), because of all the media and all the circus around him. It could backfire on you just like it did LeBron. It totally backfired on him. You've got to be careful what you wish for ... because it might not always be exactly what you want."
Durant, whose profile skyrocketed last summer when he was the lead man on the Team USA squad that won gold at the FIBA Championships in Turkey that also included Granger, has taken that approach throughout his four seasons with the Thunder. He has consistently raved about his current arrangement, always eschewing any and all talk about bolting for the big city one day.
"As a player, I'm sure (a situation like Anthony's) is something that you try to get away from as much as possible," said Durant, who signed a five-year, $85 million extension with Oklahoma City in July. "It's tough to go through that. Just watching him, I can tell that he's very frustrated, because people are bringing up speculations every single day.
"That's got to be tough on his family, just getting questions every day. He's not even talking about the games he's playing in. I'm going try to avoid (that type of scenario), but you never know what could happen. This league is crazy."
As Granger sees it, the true craziness is a player believing he needs a big city to increase his fame.
"It doesn't matter (where you play) nowadays, because you've got TV, you've got (NBA) League Pass, you've got games being played in China," Granger said . "Everybody knows who we are. I think if your team is winning, you're going to get recognition. I don't care what city you're in. That's the way it is in our day and age.
"That's why (he doesn't understand) the draw of New York or LA. You might think there's going to be a lot of celebrities in LA or whatever. But other than that, if you're winning (people know you)."
What some players see as the new path to increased prominence, in other words, is seen by others as an example of what not to do.