Carmelo and Amar'e Will Win Championship In New York
At long last the New York Knicks are relevant again. After years of punchless collapse, after Isiah Thomas nearly ran a storied franchise into basketball oblivion, the Knicks are back. Kind of.
Carmelo Anthony isn't the savior of New York Knick basketball, but he is a missing piece that will allow the creation of a championship-contending team. Was he expensive? Yes. But did the Knicks overpay? Not if being relevant is the goal, they didn't. Carmelo is the third piece in the puzzle that will eventually lead to the return of meaningful playoff games, probably this year, at Madison Square Garden. (The days of Patrick Ewing seem long ago now, don't they?)
Carmelo is the third piece in a four-part puzzle that may well deliver a championship to the Big Apple. First, came the addition of Coach Mike D'Antoni. Next, came Amar'e Stoudemire -- and the miss with LeBron -- now comes Carmelo Anthony, a player without LeBron's panache or talent, but a player that will help to make the Knicks a bona fide contender in the Eastern Conference for the next four or five seasons.
Especially, be still your beating heart Knick fans, once the Knicks make a serious run at Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. That run at the fourth piece to the championship puzzle may require salary cap juggling, but it will happen. And when it does, the long national nightmare of Knick fans will be over.
Look the Knicks still have big holes to fill on this roster. Most glaringly at center. And depth. God forbid anyone gets hurt. But how many NBA teams in this era have perfect rosters on paper? The Lakers, Celtics and ... Imperfection will get the Knicks to the playoffs this season and with any luck, and a good match-up, they could have the opportunity to advance to the second round, something the Knicks haven't done since 2000.
Most importantly, the team now has a duo that will excite Knick fans. Of course, you can make a case for why this team will never jell and win anything -- as my pal David Whitley, just back from watching Marcus Dupree wrestle in Mississippi, has done. That theme plays upon power forward Amar'e Stoudemire, already 28 with a decade's worth of NBA miles on his body, breaking down thanks to his history of knee problems. But how many teams in the NBA aren't vulnerable to their best player suffering a season-ending injury? Amar'e's been dominant at times this year. He seems as healthy as any star can be. And he seems fully recovered from his knee issues of the past.
You can also argue that Carmelo, who will turn 27 in May, is more interested in the marketing opportunities and high-profile lifestyle that he'll have in New York than he is in winning championships. That's a valid critique, but it also overlooks something that's vitally important -- 'Melo's marketing opportunities in the Big Apple are predicated upon winning. If he arrives in New York and stinks it up, fans will turn on him in a hurry. After a decade's futility, Melo represents hope. If he fails to deliver, the hate will descend from the MSG rafters. And it will be ugly.
Ugly doesn't translate into marketing dollars. So, even if Carmelo isn't insane for championship glory, his marketing muscle will demand that he win. And besides, New York is the town of Gordon Gekko, greed is good. If Melo's greedy for more glory, more cash, more attention, can anyone in New York really begrudge him that ambition? New York is the greediest city in America.
And for the first time in a long time, Knicks fans, greedy for wins for a decade, have something more than faint hope. They have a duo that can win a playoff series. And if that duo can persuade Deron Williams or Chris Paul -- or an outside shot at Dwight Howard -- to sign up for the big show in New York, suddenly the Knicks would have their own power trio to stare down the Miami Heat's triumverate of tropical power. Yep, the mid-2010s would suddenly look an awful lot like the late '90s, Heat vs. Knicks in a brutal rivalry for the throne.
With the Celtics and the Lakers aging and the Knicks adding a third gunner in 2012, you can make a real argument that the two best teams in the NBA come 2012 will reside in New York and Miami. And that an NBA championship will come from one of these two teams. If that's the case, and I think it could be, I like the Knicks' chances to be in the mix for an NBA title.
With everything old becoming new again, there will only be one question, can the Knicks get past the Heat? And vice versa.
Fans in New York will be set to party like it's 1999 all over again.
Follow Clay Travis on Twitter here. With All That and a Bag of Mail back on a weekly basis, you can e-mail him questions at Clay.Travis@gmail.com.