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Carmelo Anthony’s career has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. His individual numbers are Hall of Fame worthy. He has over 25,000 career points (and counting), was a ten time All Star and six time All NBA performer. The knocks on Anthony are as long as his accomplishments. He is not a leader, doesn’t make teammates better, not a good defender (had the tools to be better), never added to his game and was never in the best shape. He has also never reached the NBA Finals, only coming close in the 2008-09 season with the Denver Nuggets.
In the very beginning, Carmelo Anthony served notice as a slim 6’7” prep scoring machine at Oak Hill Academy. He was an All American and a top five player in the country. You knew then the the NBA was in his future. But first, he would make a stop at Syracuse. One season there was enough to solidify his spot as a top prospect. For good measure, he led the Orange to a National Championship title and was named Most Outstanding Player.
His rookie NBA season (2003-04) was a huge success. He averaged 21 points per game and was named first team All Rookie. The Denver Nuggets also made the first of many playoff appearances (every season he played there). Then he he forced his way to the New York Knicks via trade.
His tenure with the Knicks started off very promising. They made the playoffs in his first three seasons and all was good. Then the losing started piling up. All the losing began to magnify his deficiencies. Especially his lack of leadership and inability to share the ball. His effort on defense was severely lacking. He was still scoring but it became less meaningful. He was traded to Oklahoma City after the 2017 season. Safe to say, it has not gone well for ‘Melo since.
His only season with the Thunder resulted in career lows across the board. He was traded again to the Atlanta Hawks but was bought out before ever playing a game for them. Which brings us to the Houston Rockets, where he signed as a free agent. This was a failure of epic proportion. He lasted all of ten games and his numbers were awful (Per game: 29.7 minutes, 13.4 points, 40% field goal, 33% three point, 68% free throws, 5.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals). You have to wonder if this will be the lasting memory we have of him.
As far as where he ranks all time, you will get a variety of answers. I believe he’s somewhere in the 100-150 range. Very debatable and up for discussion. Really depends on your view of his overall game. It’s not just about the numbers though. There are intangibles that can elevate your status as a player (i.e. Jason Kidd). There were surely players with better all around games that deserved to be ahead of him. But having more wins or a championship(s) doesn’t make you a better player, just fortunate to be on winning teams (i.e. Manu Ginobili).
When it comes to his legacy, it’s a mixed bag of opinions. For me, he’s a winner and some would vehemently disagree with me. Considering he made 11 playoff appearances in 16 NBA seasons in a leading role qualifies him as such in my book. He will exclusively be remembered for his scoring prowess and that’s unfortunate because he could have done much more. If you look at the history of the game, not a lot of players got buckets like Anthony did. It’s what he was really good at. His legacy won’t be as prestigious as it could be because of his perceived playoff failure, lack of leadership or him not making others around him better. He could have made a bigger impact on the teams he played on but shied away from those responsibilities that ‘superstars’ take on. He was a star in my eyes but never reached that elite level reserved for special players like LeBron James, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, to name a few. Carmelo Anthony was good but he should have been better.