Carmelo, Revisited

by A.J. Coltrane

Carmelo Anthony had 42 points and 17 rebounds against the Celtics last night. He got those numbers despite the fact that Chauncey Billups missed the game due to injury, and Amar’e Stoudamire departed at halftime with back spasms. I’ve compared Carmelo to Antoine Walker before, but what he did last night was impressive.

Bernard King, Carmelo's brother from another era.

What struck me while watching the game was just how difficult it was to do what Carmelo was doing. There were a lot of contested long-range shot attempts, but in this case most of them were still good shots to take. For anybody else they would have been bad shots. (Even for Carmelo on most nights they’d still be bad shots.) Last night though, it was a whole lot of “You Have Got To Be Kidding Me.”

Here’s the point:  I think that some of the elements that make Carmelo Anthony “great” are the same elements that made Nolan Ryan “great.”

A while ago I read about Ryan in a baseball book, possibly by Bill James (or maybe Rob Neyer). The author said the that the reason Ryan was so widely respected by other players is that they realized how difficult it was to do what Ryan was doing — striking out that many batters and the way that he did it. Ryan didn’t win a whole lot more games than he lost, but he still had guys in awe of his skillset.

I get the same feeling watching Carmelo, only Carmelo’s Skill the ability to score at will. 

If  “scoring despite a high degree of difficulty” is what being a great player is about then Carmelo Anthony is truly a great player. Me, I’m not convinced that basketball has to be that hard.

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Having said that — Carmelo won’t belong in the same room with Ryan in terms of career value when all is said and done.

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