“In a ring with kings where bling is the thing

Man can’t sit comfortably or remain in the swing

In a region where giants are belittled by titans

Bare knuckles, head up and he just keep firing

Waiting for the moment that the lies meet the lion”

-- From the poem Dan Marino written by @fanalyst1 back in 1999.

 

The Road To 20,000

The snickers and whispers surround him like DEA Agents swarming a cocaine kingpin in Midtown Manhattan back in the 80s. He has more haters than Iggy Azalea performing at an Essence Women’s convention. Despite winning a national championship in college as a freshman, his NBA championship pedigree is constantly questioned. When you are measured against immortals, leaving an impression and accomplishing things few players have ever done is an expected part of your resume. So is dusting off criticism and proving the loud-mouthed soothsayers wrong.

In the offseason, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony stayed in a rebuilding situation with NY rather than go to a sweeter situation in Chi-Town. Nobody gave him any credit for that. They say he did it for the check.

His effort can’t be knocked, so instead people rip on his D. When he broke the MSG scoring record with 62 in a win against the Bobcats (since re-named Hornets again) in January and a five-game Knicks losing streak, loose lips chose to blast him for the Knicks 16-27 record at the time.

 

When the analyzed subject is Carmelo Anthony, people tend to look at his glass as half-empty. Other players get applauded for being very good. Anthony gets berated and clowned for being too great and too lethal a rim-wrecker to have never tasted an NBA Finals in his 13-year career.

His bag of baseline tricks and arsenal of offensive weaponry is exceeded by a handful if any in today’s game. Others say he’s too dope to have never willed his solid Nuggets squads and undermanned Knicks teams past playoff juggernauts like the Lakers, Heat, Celtics and Spurs.

On the flip side, they say he doesn’t pass enough. He’s called selfish for being an unstoppable scorer. The purists say he doesn’t make anybody better and the haters say “You can’t win a championship with him.”

 

They ignore the fact that he’s never played for a franchise with a championship coach or a cast of veteran players—a few of which are future HOFers. They ignore the fact that son is a show-stopper with the basketball. The seven-time All-Star led the Nuggets to the playoffs every season from 2004 to 2010, winning two division titles in that stretch. In 2009, Anthony led the Nuggets to their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 1985 and by 2011; he was traded to the New York Knicks just days prior to the NBA trade dealine. Despite his huge amount of success, pundits and certain fans labeled his time in Denver as a failed endeavor.

Then he came to the Knicks and got better as a player, but the airwaves were basically daring the Knicks to let Melo walk in free agency with the belief that “clearing house” and ridding themselves of such a once-in-a –generation talent would free up money to pursue “other” players and aid Phil Jackson’s rebuilding efforts.

Detractors of the Melo man don’t want to hear the excuses. At this point, his career has been victimized by the ineptitude and overall decline in popularity of the Knicks franchise since Ewing, Riley, Van Gundy and Houston left the building. The magnificence of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James (a combined 7 titles) and their postseason success during this period has certainly made Melo an easy target. On top of that, he failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career in 2013-14 and the NY on his jersey doesn’t help his popularity crusade outside of the media capital of the world. Therefore Melo gets the Dan Marino treatment.

The legendary Dolphins QB never gets the commercial credit he deserves because he doesn’t have a Super Bowl W. Still, that never stopped him from getting his digits and making it hard for people to statistically eliminate him from any G.O.A.T. conversation.

Similiarly, what else can Melo do until he has a cast of players riding with him that rise to the top together? The Zen Master and D-Fish are in the early stages of constructing that chemistry. Melo, the centerpiece of that proces, is still young and should be able to get buckets and continue expanding his game which he has already done this season in helping the new-look Knicks jump out to an optimistic 2-1 start .

Melo seems to be comfortable playing in The Triangle, he definitely knows how to pass and he’s still killing dudes in ISO if necessary. He’s broken many a scoring record in his travels from Syracuse to Denver to NY and while some folks try to knock his hustle and his brilliance by focusing on his god-given scoring prowess – and use that as the reason why he hasn’t seen greener playoff pastures—to imply that he’s less talented or capable of winning as the game’s other elite guys is absurd.

And while the haters hate, the B-More Bomber via BK, continues to rack up numbers and remind the basketball world of the aspects of his game that make him a platinum baller and trump any perceived flaws or shortcomings.

Melo’s vintage 28-point performance, which included a typical late jumper to dagger the Charlotte Hornets 95-93 on Sunday, made him the 40 th player in NBA history to drop 20,000 points.

With 7:42 remaining in the opening quarter, point guard Shane Larkin found an open Anthony on the wing for a trey. At just 30 years old, there's a very strong chance he'll be in the top 10 by the time he retires.

''I never thought I would be here actually talking about me reaching that milestone,'' Anthony said. ''I'm definitely humbled by this experience. I (guess I) got more to go.''

A lot more.

In fact, at 30yrs and 157 days old, Melo became the 6th youngest in NBA history to reach 20k career points. LeBron youngest (28yrs, 17days)

Let’s put this man’s career in further perspective.

To reach Wilt Chamberlain, who is currently fifth on the all-time scoring list at 31,419, he needs another 11,419 points. That would take approximately another six seasons of 1,900 points, which he has reached in every non-lockout campaign since 2009.

Knicks fans should bask in the moment. From here on in, every Anthony accomplishment will be intertwined with the fate of the Knicks franchise—good and bad.

After signing a five-year contract, he will be pounding that NY pavement for the duration of his prime years. Regardless of what haters say, Anthony has spent over a decade in the NBA proving that he can get buckets with the best of em’. So did Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, but they never held that shiny ball.

Good thing for the Knicks that they have plenty of time to still try and make that happen with Melo leading the charge. In the meantime, fans get to witness poetry in motion and the many, many more electric nights. Probably enough to fill up the Hudson River, although in the end, even that may never fully satisfy the unreachable expectations thrust upon a max-money basketball god.