It might be 2014, but in terms of Melo’s impending free agent decision, let’s pretend it’s the ’90s again.
Carmelo Anthony has seemingly narrowed down his destination to two cities, which happen to be the two largest cities in our nation – New York City and Los Angeles. Both are appealing options for Melo, as they offer historically successful franchises, the spotlight of a large city, and the chance to earn a massive pay check. As these are really Melo’s only remaining options in terms of where he’ll sign (Chicago seems to be a distant third), it parallels the East-West coast rap battles of the 1990s, primarily featuring The Notorious B.I.G. (N.Y.) and Tupac Shakur (L.A.). Does Melo want to be like Biggie, and remain loyal to his hometown of NYC, or does he want to spurn the Big Apple in favor of the City of Angels, ala 2Pac?
Moving to L.A. would mean teaming up with Kobe Bryant, who has continued to defy basketball logic, even as he approaches 40-years-old. There is no doubt that the Black Mamba will still be a dominant individual next year, but, at the same time, there will be a cloud of doubt surrounding his on-court play, considering he was only able to play six games last season after suffering a devastating achilles injury. Meanwhile, the other effective players on the miserable 2013-2014 Lakers squad might leave in free agency, most notably Pau Gasol and Nick “Swaggy P” Young. Thus, if Melo were to join the Lakers, it’d essentially just be a “Big 2,” with no real supporting cast whatsoever (although such a move would sure to attract other big name players to LA in the near future). In addition, the Lakers also have rookie Julius Randle, a promising big man out of Kentucky.
If Melo needed yet another reason to sign a max deal with the Lakers (which would be worth approximately $96 million over 4 years,) it is that throughout his entire career, the Mamba has been one of the most determined and driven players in the Association, so chances are, the Lakers would rack up a solid amount of W’s no matter the formulation of the roster. He’d be welcomed as a hero in Los Angeles, while being hated by the New York media, but regardless of these enticing opportunities available for Melo out west, he still is best off remaining in the city he demanded to come to in 2011, after forcing his departure from the Mile High City.
Melo might have “greater” opportunities to win his first championship in another city, whether it be L.A. or even Houston, where he could form the league’s next hated “Big 3,” alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard. However, if he were to win a championship wearing the Knicks orange and blue, it’d mean more than winning one anywhere else. As the Notorious B.I.G was beloved by east coast rap fans, Melo would be adored to an even greater extent. New York basketball has an incredibly rich history, but one thing its lacking in recent history is an NBA title. Heck, even if the Nets were to win a championship before the Knicks, it still wouldn’t mean as much compared to the Knicks winning, due to the majority of the Nets history taking place in Jersey, which frankly, many New Yorkers could care less about. People all over NYC would look up to Melo as a hero, from the kids playing street ball in Rucker Park, to the NBA-hopefuls in his native Brooklyn. It’s unfortunate that Melo’s had to take a lot of shit from basketball fans throughout the nation for his failure to win a championship, let alone advance far in the playoffs, but winning a title for the Knicks would silence all those haters immediately.
Aside from the winning factor, which Phil Jackson knows quite well about (do not try to tell me that he ONLY won because of Jordan and Kobe – Phil is an incredible basketball mind in his own right, but that’s a debate for another time), Melo would still have the added benefits that any NBA star desires: money, fame, and attention. I mean, if I were Melo at this stage of his career, I wouldn’t even worry about the money too much (the man’s made millions of dollars solely by playing basketball,) but having that desire will never change for any pro athlete. At least Melo’s decision in free agency will not primarily be focused on money, unlike the once Knick Latrell Sprewell (remember when he received a multi-million dollar contract, and complained because he “wouldn’t be able to feed his family”?). Furthermore, he’d be able to keep his family in New York, which his wife La La would love, despite the fact that his family actually lives in L.A. during the offseason. Yeah, all these extra benefits of being one of the world’s greatest ballers is nice, but considering Melo’s been in the league for eleven seasons already, it’s clear that his number one factor for choosing his next club is winning.
The fact that Melo’s free agency decision is connected to the 90s rap rivalry between Biggie and 2Pac bodes well for the Knicks – maybe with Melo back at the Mecca, the team can re-establish the dominance it had during that decade, which included a finals appearance led by the greatest Knick ever, Patrick Ewing.
And, who knows, if Melo wins a championship at the helm of the Knicks roster, he can replace Ewing as the greatest Knick ever.