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Superstars!

 

The Knicks do not have any superstars on their team and only fancy marketing and over the top nuthugging would have anyone believe that they do. What the Knicks have are two players in Amar'e and Carmelo that are capable of putting up big numbers on any given night. However, superstars are not found in big numbers but in big moments.



KC Jones, former coach of the Boston Celtics, told a story about a superstar that I would like to relate to you. It was 1984, the Celtics were on the road to  play a very tough Milwaukee Bucks team. Kevin McHale was dealing with a severe ankle sprain and while he was playing, he was clearly playing on one leg. Danny Ainge was in the middle of a huge shooting slump, and to make matters worse Robert Parrish picked up two fouls in the first 5 minutes of the game and would have to sit the rest of the first half. KC said during a timeout that he turned to Larry Bird in the huddle and said "Larry it looks like you are going to have to give me 40 and 15 for us to have a chance in hell of winning this game." Bird patted KC on the back and said, "I got this." Bird played all 48 minutes that game, scored 44 points and grabbed 19 rebounds and the Celtics pulled out a 6 point win. See Larry Bird was a superstar.  Now while Both Amar'e and Carmelo are capable of going out and scoring 44 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in a game, it is highly unlikely that Mike D'Antoni could ask for such a performance and get it pretty much on demand.

Superstars not only put up big numbers, but also do so when their teams need them to.  When a coach has a superstar on their team they can ask that player for whatever the team needs to win and more times than not get it. Carmelo Anthony has enough skill and athletic ability that he could score 40 points, grab 20 rebounds, get 10 assists, and play excellent defense. However, so far in his career Carmelo has not proven he can come up with the performance he needs on a consistent basis to put his team over the top. If and when he can do that, then he will be a superstar. When Carmelo can score 40 points because his team needs him to carry the offense, grab 20 rebounds because his team needs help on the boards, get 10 assists because they need him to facilitate, and respond when D'Antoni says "it's the 4th quarter, I need you to go out there and lock down Durant, Lebron, or whomever it may be, in order for the Knicks to win and he gets it done, then he will be a superstar. The same with Amar'e. When D'Antoni can ask Amar'e to go get him 20 rebounds and Amar'e pats him on the back and says "I got this," and does it we will have a superstar.

 

It may seem that I am nitpicking, but there is a difference between great players and superstars. Great players get voted to the Hall of Fame, superstars win titles.  Both Amar'e and Carmelo are on pace to be locks for the Hall of Fame, but are they locks to win a title, even playing together? That remains to be seen.

 

Superstars accept the responsibility for winning titles and push themselves to achieve that goal. They don't blame coaches or their teammates. Give Larry Bird or Magic Johnson what Carmelo had the last 3 years he was in Denver and they would have won a title. Amar'e failed to win a title with the reigning MVP(Steve Nash),  Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion in their primes. Bird or Magic wins a title with those guys.

Now both Amar'e and Carmelo have enough talent to become superstars, but they have to push themselves. They have the stats and the riches to go with it, now it is time for them to push themselves and make winning the priority. That means that both guys need to commit to defense and rebounding especially because that is what their team needs. By defense I am referring to team defense first, and individual defense when need be. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were both below average individual defenders, but the were excellent team defenders, and when they had to they even figured out how to get one on one stops. Need I mention rebounding, if Magic or Bird were on a team that was as poor a rebounding team as the Knicks, they would have made it their personal business to fix that problem. Who doubts that either Bird or Magic would not have accepted the Knicks being as horrible a rebounding team as they were before and after the trade. They would have done something about it, even if that meant leading the league in rebounds to do it.

 

Ironically Carmelo Anthony in his first press conference acknowledge the challenge that he and Amar'e will have to meet if they are to be successful in New York. "It's about accepting the challenge. There will be nights when I have to go out and score 40 points and get 20 rebounds... and there will be times when I am gonna have to say  STAT go out there and get me 40 points and 20 rebounds. There will be times when I am going to have to carry the team for us to win and there will be times when I have to ride his coattails."

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