Tag Archives: carmelo anthony

A Night At The Garden

By Zach

As a newly transplanted New Yorker and NBA fan, it’s been hugely entertaining for me to watch the Knicks this year. This is probably much more so the case because I don’t actually root for them (I’m a Celtics fan), so I was able to watch dispassionately as their season descended into a macrocosm of exciting, dysfunctional uncertainty. Even at the height of Linsanity, when Lin dropped 38 on Kobe and his two under-utilized stooges, questions abounded. No one in New York knew if the Knicks would even make the playoffs; no one in New York knew if Lin’s transcendence would last until April.

It didn’t. The Knicks entered the playoffs without Lin, lost in late March to a bothersome torn meniscus. Without Lin, the offense devolved into a predictably iso-heavy, Melo-centric barrage of contested jumpers. Valuable seconds were wasted, of the shot clock and of legitimate basketball fans’ lives.

So naturally, for game 3 of the Knicks-Heat series, my girlfriend and I decided to join the craziness for a couple hours, in person as opposed to the tacky Mexican restaurant and dive bar with a projector we’d frequented for games 1 and 2. Game 3 would be better, we surmised — it was at the Garden and the crowd would be going nuts. Amare and his disinterested defense had been extinguished. Bosh went home to watch his egg hatch (a cruel joke, yeah, but Gator never filters itself in the name of kindness).

Even though, by game time, we knew that only the first two assumptions would prove prescient, there was reason for optimism. 7th Avenue was buzzing outside the Garden. Melo shirts abounded, interspersed with the occasional Lin or Stoudemire or I’ve-made-a-huge-mistake-in-purchasing-this Fields jersey. The Knicks dancers were performing in the main entryway, much to the delight of all hairspray and spandex enthusiasts present. Beer still hovered around 10 dollars, but it was flowing!

(On a side note: If I ever own a sports team, I’m definitely lowering the price of beer for the playoffs. With 2 dollar beers, a decent team with home court advantage would ROMP its way to a championship. There’s an undeniable effect that drunk, rowdy fans have on both sets of players and, yes, the referees. Someone should do statistical analysis of that effect sometime. The point is: a trophy should take precedence over profit margins, a few black eyes and some vomit cleanup detail expenses.)

Back to the Garden. One of the best parts of seeing a sporting event live is the pre-game action. The warmups, for starters, can sometimes be pretty illuminating in regards to players’ personalities and team dynamics. Of course, I focused on LeBron, whose physical characteristics are obviously much more easily defined than his personal traits. It’s clear that he’s a specimen (all the more so when you see him in person), but I was interested to see how he acted before the game.

The answer? Kind of insecure, just like you might expect. He insisted on viciously dunking a disproportionate amount of his layup line attempts (missing two in a row at one point), and kept doing this stupid little dance while he waited in line. It was like watching a white middle schooler Dougie.  I’m sure it was his attempt to tell the crowd, “Look at me, I’m relaxed,” but to me it just seemed contrived. But then again I’m a completely biased Celtics fan, and I can’t defend five positions in the NBA.

Everyone in the Garden expected at least a tight game, and they got it. It was ugly. We hadn’t seen offensive sloppiness like this from LeBron, Wade, and Melo in a while, and the offensively sloppy play we’d come to expect from guys like J.R. Smith and Landry Fields hadn’t abated.

That said, the Knicks led at halftime and kept it close until the fourth quarter. We all know how the fourth turned out. I’ll spare you the disaster-GIFs of cats falling out of windows or fat ladies tumbling down stairs. Here are my takeaways:

1) Melo, not LeBron, should have been looking to team up with a superstar these past two seasons. It’s not just that he needs good players surrounding him — he needs good players who bring with them a culture of ball movement and teamwork and who will tell him to buck up, reduce his shot attempts, and get his teammates involved. Iso doesn’t win championships, and when your best three scorers are three players who LOVE to iso in Melo, Amare and J.R. Smith, you’re going absolutely nowhere. We all know it, but I thought I’d reiterate.

2) If the Knicks ever become good, MSG will be absolutely insane during the playoffs. The atmosphere was great even though they were down 2-0 in the series and hobbled. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like if they’re ever a Finals favorite. Of course, this might be in 2019 when Melo’s long gone, they’re built around a Lin-Shumpert backcourt and they have Anthony Davis anchoring the paint following a TV special announcing his decision to take his talents to Broadway.

3) The Heat are eminently beatable this year, but only in the Finals. The Pacers can take a couple games off them, as can the Celtics/Bulls/Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they’re not losing four times in a series before June.

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An NBA Trade Deadline Breakdown In Which I Solely Use Harry Potter Analogies

Harry's been a revelation for the Timberwolves this season.

By Zach

So the trade deadline passed for the National Basketball Association yesterday, and while some teams were flailing around in the market like a Whomping Willow, others stood stiller than a first-year in an Invisibility Cloak. This means that the Boston Celtics will go into the playoffs with a frontline of Flitwick-sized big men. The plus to this is that they’re currently projected to play Miami in the first round, and let’s face it, Joel Anthony isn’t exactly Hagrid when it comes to controlling the low post. And Chris Bosh, despite his talents, still looks more like a Norwegian Ridgeback than a human, so we can always hold that against him.

But I’m getting off-topic. This is about basketball.

There were a couple trades yesterday that weren’t quite Voldemort-is-back type news, but they were definitely newsier than your average Rita Skeeter column. In probably the biggest trade of the day, the Washington Wizards sent renowned Lee Jordan-impersonator JaVale McGee to the Nuggets, an Angelina Johnson-style gunner in Nick Young to the Clippers, and in exchange Denver power forward Nene received his Hogwarts letter and will now be a Wizard.

This has multiple implications. First of all, the Nuggets taking McGee is riskier than a Forbidden Forest foray at night. McGee might have potential, but he has all the intelligence of a troll; we’ll see if Denver coach George Karl can put a wand up his nose and knock some sense into him.

Also, the Wizards don’t exactly have a sure thing in Nene. He’s kind of like the Slytherin Quidditch team — he looks really good on paper and his physical attributes are basically a Nimbus Two Thousand and One, but there’s a Malfoyan inability to dominate lurking beneath the surface of the big Brazilian. Plus, he’s aging faster than Dumbledore on a Horcrux hunt.

The other big trade was between Portland and New Jersey — the Trailblazers sent forward Gerald Wallace to New Jersey for a high pick in this year’s draft and a couple of guys who are more hopeless than Neville Longbottom on a broomstick. (Portland also sent veteran center Marcus Camby to Houston in exchange for a couple of Chocolate Frogs). Essentially, Portland decided to go to Albania, hide their soul in a quiet, inexperienced professor (interim head coach Kaleb Canales) and try to rebuild their team.

Of course, the question arises: what was New Jersey thinking? They’re trying to rebuild as well, and bringing in Gerald Wallace instead of Dwight Howard is akin to taking Luna Lovegood to a Christmas party instead of Ginny Weasley.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were also busy at the trade deadline, bringing in Ramon Sessions and shipping out Derek Fisher. Sessions is rather like Seamus Finnigan — he brings some stuff to the table, but overall he’s rather unappealing, a booger-flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Bean, if you will. But he’s still an improvement over Derek Fisher, who is so old that he still refers to You Know Who as He Who Must Not Be Named.

Wait, we’re missing a big trade — Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson! Milwaukee got tired of Bogut’s injuries, and/or discovered that he was moonlighting as a werewolf during his absences. So it made sense for them to trade for Ellis, a guy who can put up Cedric Diggorian numbers (and no, we’re not talking about Quidditch) but might need an Oliver Wood-esque leader in his life. It’s not clear if Milwaukee has this kind of leader. Brandon Jennings is talented, but he’s no Viktor Krum.

Tune in next time, when I’ll examine the similarities in personality between Carmelo Anthony and Gilderoy Lockhart.

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