By Jon Carlos RodriguezHere’s a (very late and slightly nonsensical) tribute to the guy on the shirt.
It’s been more than a week since Carmelo Anthony was traded to Oklahoma City to continue his quest for an NBA championship.
After going through about eight or nine thinkpieces and one reaction video, I’m still undecided on what to feel about this. But let me try.
Good for Melo, who’s finally free from the shackles of Dolan-sized cuffs. He has successfully bought back a seat in the cool kids’ table with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, his fellow perennial All-Stars and gold medalists.
He can now unleash Hoodie Melo, or Team USA Melo, or whoever the best version of Melo is now at 33 years old, escaping the skyscraper drama that towered over him in his hometown of New York.
So what to make of New York—a city always left behind by its heroes? Its Patrick Ewings, Latrell Sprewells, Stephon Marburys, Baron Davises, and Amare Stoudamires.
They get Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick. They lost Phil Jackson. They still have the Porzingod. They have Frankie Smokes. They bought back a more expensive version of Tim Hardaway Jr. They have Willy Hernangomez. This is a very young, promising squad coming off one of its worst seasons since the Carmelo era.
Here’s the fun part: they also have Joakim Noah, Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack, and Michael Beasley—because, again, this is the 2017-2018 Knicks, the basketball team version of a looted, post-apocalyptic supermarket.
With the way Anthony’s, George’s, and Westbrook’s individual careers panned out, they all deserve the championship that the Golden State Warriors will win in 2018. Good luck to them. And best of luck to the Knicks; they need it more than OKC.
This might be the best time to declare this: I’m a bandwagon New York fan. Not the Knicks, exclusively, but the city. This includes the $2 pizza slice, $1 hotdog, crowded subways, graffiti, shoeffiti, buskers, Strawberry Fields, How To Make It In America, everything.
I had the Manhattan skyline tattooed on my arm in 2013. I once drafted Baron Davis as the last pick in my fantasy league because he wore the blue and orange. My fantasy team was once named Nu Yawk Knicks (and just like the NBA team it was named after, it sucked.) I’ve (semi) mastered Melo’s jump shot on 2K.
I became a fan of the Knicks by default, and developed a love-hate relationship with its franchise player. I loved the way Melo takes unli-jab steps and dances around before taking and making contested jumpers. I hated it when he misses them.
The night before he was traded, I had already planned to wear my Melo shirt—my only Melo shirt (shout out to Empire)—for a day of shooting baskets with family. I woke up to the breaking news that he was traded for whoever whoever, and I must admit, there was a bit of sadness; just enough sadness to tweet “Ingat ka thnks fr th mmrs,” which a total of one person liked.
The dream was that Melo would be joined by at least two superstars in NYC. But the jump to OKC made more sense.
That day on the court, in a game of 3-on-3, wearing my “Automatic” Carmelo shirt, I hit, maybe, three shots, and started off okay (like, tito-level okay). My team won the first game. It was a promising start to the day.
But by the second game, my shot wasn’t there anymore and I got scored on infinitely. I lost interest by the third game. My team never won a game again. As a New York fan, it was, perhaps, the best tribute to the guy on my shirt.