Thursday, July 24, 2014

9 comments Bill Simmons Has a Friend Who Didn't Want Carmelo Anthony on the Lakers Team, So Obviously Most Lakers Fans Felt That Way

I wasn't going to originally cover Bill Simmons' column about Carmelo Anthony. I do try to limit the amount I write about Bill and I had just written another post written by him. Plus, I didn't take the time to read the Anthony article. It just seemed like another "deep thought" column about an NBA player that Bill seems to be trying to do more and more of lately. It was suggested on Twitter that I read it, so I did, and here we are. It's the typical Bill Simmons columns where he takes an opinion held by one person, extrapolates it to mean the opinion of others and then adds a little bit of his opinion disguised as a fact in order to prove his opinion correct. Few writers are as good as Bill Simmons in using his opinion to prove his own opinion as correct.

This wasn’t one of our happier years at the “You Can Absolutely Win a Title If Carmelo Anthony Is Your Best Player” Fan Club headquarters.

I didn't even know Bill was a member of this fan club. I can't recall him ever stating he was a member of this fan club either. Oh, and this column is titled "No Escape from New York." Get it? There was a movie called "Escape from New York."

Our man missed the 2014 playoffs in the rancid Eastern Conference, then received a rude comeuppance from his new Knicks boss, Phil Jackson, who lobbied him publicly to stick around at a discount price. The Bulls couldn’t carve out enough cap space for him. The Lakers couldn’t offer a good enough supporting cast. The Rockets never gained momentum, for whatever reason. Carmelo ended up re-signing for $122 million for five years, pretending that was the plan all along … even though it wasn’t.

Yeah, tough year. Carmelo had to walk away with $24.4 million per year and got to stay in one of the largest NBA markets. Fan club members should probably like that.

You know what really shocked me? Hearing Knicks fans and Lakers fans wonder whether it was a smart idea to splurge on Carmelo at all. Where are you REALLY going if he’s your best player?, they kept asking. 

What this translates to mean is, "I know a guy who is a Lakers fan and didn't want Carmelo to sign with the Lakers." Because we all know the opinion of Bill's friends are indicative of the larger population as well. I'm sure there are plenty of Lakers fans who didn't want the team to sign Carmelo, but to pretend the opinion of Bill's friends is representative of Lakers fans everywhere is silly.

Take my friend Lewis, a lifelong Southern California guy, one of those complicated superfans who’s nutty enough to grow a beard for the entire NHL playoffs, only he’s rational enough to freak out over Kobe’s cap-crippling two-year extension, but he’s also irrational enough to still believe the Lakers could eventually sign Kevin Love AND Kevin Durant. You can always count on him for a rationally irrational reaction, if that makes sense.

Very little of this stuff ever makes sense. But I'm sure Lewis is the perfect representation to base an entire premise around and then write an entire column based entirely on this premise. After all, beats working.

When news broke two weekends ago that the Lakers had become serious Carmelo contenders, I couldn’t wait for Lewis’s reaction.

And I can't wait to hear about Lewis's reaction. I hope Bill provides it word-for-word in text form so I get the full experience of Lewis's reaction. Also, it's obvious Lewis isn't famous because otherwise Bill would use his full name so that his readers knows he is friends with famous people. Jimmy Kimmel isn't "Jimmy," Adam Carolla isn't "Adam," and the examples could go on. As a general rule, Bill uses full names when it is someone the reader knows as a celebrity.

Instead, here’s the email exchange we had.

Me: Are u officially in Carmelo mode? Lewis: God no. Hope he goes to the Knicks.

HOW INSIGHTFUL! LAKERS FANS AS A WHOLE DON'T WANT CARMELO ANTHONY! QUICK, GET TO THE KEYBOARD AND WRITE AN ENTIRE COLUMN, BUT FIRST TRANSCRIBE THE ENTIRE EMAIL EXCHANGE.

Me: You don’t mean that. Lewis: It’s a bandaid on a broken arm. It locks them up with no flexibility for two years until Kobe goes.

He didn’t want Carmelo Anthony??? On the Lakers???

Putting more question marks at the end of a sentence isn't going to make it suddenly less true or even true when extrapolated to show how Lakers fans feel about Carmelo Anthony as a whole.

I surfed a few Lakers blogs and message boards and found similar ambivalence. Some fans wanted him, others didn’t understand the point.

The two most accurate opinions in order to get valid, well-reasoned opinions on a subject can always be found in two places.

1. The opinion of a friend.

2. The opinion expressed on message boards.

What could go wrong with making an assumption based on the comments from these two sources?

Many felt like the rationally irrational Lewis — they wanted the Lakers to land a top-five lottery pick (if it’s lower than that, it goes to Phoenix), wipe Nash’s expiring contract off their cap, then make a run at the Kevins (Love in 2015, Durant in 2016). That’s a smart plan, except (a) they could easily stink and STILL lose that 2015 lottery pick, (b) Love will probably get traded this season (and might like his new team), (c) nobody knows what Durant wants to do, and (d) nobody knows if the post–Dr. Buss Lakers are still a destination franchise.

I know if the post-Dr. Buss Lakers are still a destination franchise. They are. They are located in California, still have a rich history, have celebrities who go to the games, and will have Kobe (who isn't the same, but he still holds weight) on the roster for the next two years. I have to believe that it's Bill's distaste for the Lakers that causes him to doubt they are still a destination franchise.

And it’s not like the Lakers are loaded with assets; they have Julius Randle, the promise of future cap space, the allure of Los Angeles and that’s about it.

I mean, if a guy wants to come to Los Angeles that's about all he needs. There is space to sign other players and he can live in Los Angeles.

They owe Kobe $23.5 million this season and $25 million next season — nearly 40 percent of their cap — without even knowing if he can play at a high level anymore.

Then when the cap goes up in two years Kobe is gone and the Lakers have a ton of room to make moves. For now, they have a guy who is insanely competitive and draws eyes to the team. And no, I'm not talking about Swaggy P, but Kobe.

Knowing that, how could any Lakers fan not want one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history? 

I don't think there are a lot of Lakers fans who wouldn't want one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history on the team. I think your friend Lewis didn't want him on the team. 

Why weren’t Knicks fans freaking out that they might lose their franchise player for nothing? Why were so many Bulls fans (and I know three of them) saying things like “I’d love to get Melo, but I hate the thought of giving up Taj [Gibson] for him”?

Bill knows three Bulls fans. THREE! I'm not sure he's ever thought that perhaps his friends are stupid and irrational. That could never be true though, could it?

How did Carmelo Anthony, only 30 years old and still in his prime, become the NBA’s most underappreciated and misunderstood player?

Because the media has beaten the "Carmelo Anthony is a great player, but isn't a winner who can lead a team to the NBA title narrative" and many fans can start to think the same way due to the constant onslaught of this narrative. I'm probably slightly guilty of it too. I would like for Anthony to play for the Celtics though. Not sure I would mind that.

Again, the idea that Bill's friends may be irrational and hold a minority opinion simply doesn't occur to him. It couldn't be true. Bill is very smart and so therefore his friends are smart because they are associated with him.

Now comes the part where Bill starts handing out opinions like they are facts and then treats his opinion as fact. He tends to do this often.

The problems start here: Carmelo Anthony is definitely better than your typical All-Star, but he’s not quite a superstar. You know what that makes him? An almost-but-not-quite-superstar.

Oh, okay. I didn't realize this was an official thing. It's always fun how Bill's hand out opinions as facts and then uses those facts to support his argument. It's very stereotypical only-childish of him.

He’s not Leo DiCaprio or Will Smith — he can’t open a movie by himself. He’s more like Seth Rogen or Channing Tatum — he can open the right movie by himself. There’s a big difference.

The only difference is that Will Smith does completely different movies from Seth Rogen. This is an annoying comparison. It only clouds the issue and tries to cover for the fact Bill is throwing an opinion out there and tries to make it seem like it's a fact. Some people do consider Carmelo Anthony to be a superstar.

Here’s something I wrote on July 8, 2010, the day that LeBron took his talents to South Beach.


I need my NBA superstar to sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, single-handedly guarantee an average supporting cast 45-50 wins, and potentially be the best player on a Finals team if the other pieces are in place, which means only LeBron, Wade, Howard, Durant and Kobe qualify. There’s a level just a shade below (the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar) with Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. (Note: I think Derrick Rose gets there next season.) Then you have elite guys like Bosh, Pau Gasol and Amar’e Stoudemire who need good teammates to help them thrive … and if they don’t have them, you’re heading to the lottery. You know what we call these people? All-Stars.
 
Sorry, Portland fans — I made a mistake not telling you to take a deep breath before you read that paragraph.

Carmelo Anthony does sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, has taken an average supporting cast to 45-50 wins (as Bill will later prove in this column, so how he doesn't understand Carmelo meets this definition is ridiculous), and hasn't had a chance to be in the Finals because the other pieces haven't been in place. What's dumb is Bill will, again, prove in this very article that Anthony hasn't had the supporting cast to be in the Finals. So he has no chance of being a superstar according to Bill's criteria until his supporting cast improves. Carmelo has taken steps this offseason to not put himself in a better situation with better teammates. More importantly, this fourth criteria means a player can't be labeled a superstar based on a factor that is somewhat beyond his control. I don't know if that should reflect negatively on the player or not.

But exactly four years later, those levels look like this.

Superstars: LeBron, Durant.

Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstars: Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Paul George.

Again, this is an opinion based on criteria that Bill Simmons has thrown together. Bill is using his opinion (that there is a set criteria a player has to achieve to be named a superstar) and written this opinion in one of his columns as proof that his opinion of Carmelo Anthony as not a superstar is true. Am I the only that sees the insanity of this? Can't Bill see it?

"Oh, no Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar because I created this criteria stating he isn't a superstar based on subjective measures which were opinion-based. So taking my opinion-created criteria and then matching it up with my current opinion that Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar, you can see that I am right in believing Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar. Also, nevermind if criteria #4 means no player who hasn't appeared in the NBA Finals can be a superstar and it's not based on anything the player has or has not done in order to be considered a superstar."

A few semi-stunned notes about that revised list.

You created the list based on your own criteria. How can you be stunned at the results, you ass monkey? HOW? It's your opinion!

"My own opinion, which I have no control over, shocks me!"

First, two true superstars is the NBA’s lowest number since 1979, the season before Bird and Magic showed up.

I give up. I'm not going to argue this shit. Bill is discussing this list like it's not a product of his ego-driven opinion and is instead the results of a 10 year study based on facts.

Second, Anthony Davis is our only superstar in waiting right now … well, unless you feel like bending the rules and counting Joel Embiid If He Stays Healthy or my illegitimate Australian son, Ben Simmons (a frighteningly gifted high schooler who looks like Benji Wilson 2.0).

Kevin Love is 25, Paul George is 24. It's not like they are old. Also, way for Bill to plug a "30 for 30" while trying to drop knowledge about high school basketball players he's only seen YouTube clips of.

Our 30 for 30 about Benji is streaming on Netflix

Of course it is, Bill. Your column is one big YouTube link and advertisement for other Grantland content.

Third, we’re in the middle of an under-30 talent boom that’s as loaded as any run since the early ’90s, and yet we dipped from 11 superstars and almost-but-not-quite-superstars in 2010 to 10 of those guys in 2014. Six dropped out and five jumped in, not including Rose, who briefly careered into the superstar group in 2011 and 2012.

Bill is apparently going to keep talking about this list as if it holds anything other than the results of four criteria he created purely through the use of his opinion. It takes a special kind of ego to believe your opinion is a fact and then base a defense of another opinion based on your previous opinion.

And fourth, Carmelo’s 2014 level was a tougher call than everyone else’s combined. After all, he’s made one conference finals and zero Finals. He’s never won more than 54 regular-season games or made an All-NBA first team, although he did finish third in 2013’s MVP voting (no small feat).

Yes, he did meet every arbitrary criteria on the list, except for the criteria required which he has only a limited amount of control over. That criteria is the pieces falling together on a Finals team with that player as the best on that Finals team. Outside of choosing a team with a great supporting cast already in place (which Anthony did seem to have the option of doing), he doesn't have a ton of control over his supporting cast once he chooses a team.

Most damning, Carmelo has lost nearly twice as many playoff games as he has won: 23 wins, 44 losses. You can’t even use the whole “Look, Carmelo can drag any mediocre team to 44 wins and the playoffs!” argument anymore — not after last season.

The Knicks weren't mediocre last year. They were worse than that. Raymond Felton was the starting point guard and J.R. Smith was the second-best player on the team. I'm not a big Carmelo Anthony fan, but he dragged them to 37 wins. Take Anthony off that roster and they are contending for the #1 overall pick.

So what’s left? Can’t we downgrade him to All-Star and be done with it? 

I don't know, Bill. It's your fucking list so do what you want. Me personally, I'm going to assume most fans of the Bulls, Lakers and Knicks wanted Carmelo Anthony to play for their team and feel good knowing this is probably true in the majority. After all, what if I have four friends that agree with my point of view?

For me, it keeps coming back to one question: Can you win the NBA championship if Carmelo Anthony is your best player?

The short answer: Yes.

You can.

Bill Simmons' opinion: You can win an NBA title with Carmelo Anthony as the best player on the team.

Bill Simmons' opinion: Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar because he hasn't made an NBA Finals as the best player on that team.

So Anthony is a superstar once forces outside of his complete control come together. Bill thinks he's a superstar, but the criteria Bill created which he has no control over doesn't necessarily agree with Anthony being a superstar. In conclusion, I have a headache.

If you believe Carmelo can lead a championship team, you’re leaning heavily on that 2011 Mavs playbook — you’d need all the elements we just covered, and you’d need Carmelo to unleash a damned good Dirk impression.

Only one problem: Dirk was better than Carmelo is.

Oh no. What ever shall be done?

Dirk is one of the 20 best basketball players of all time by any calculation.

Absolutely not true. Here are some facts I just created to prove my opinion is correct. The criteria to be one of the 20 best basketball players of all-time are as follows:

1. Have won at least one NBA title.

2. Has either played for the Lakers, Heat or Celtics.

3. Is from the United States.

4. Thinks that English Muffins are the wimpy version of a bagel.

5. That is all.

So you can see that Dirk isn't even close to being one of the best basketball players of all-time because he fails on two criteria and I don't know what Dirk thinks of English Muffins, but I do know he is from Germany, so there's a good chance he doesn't appreciate bagels to the extent he should. As you can see, Dirk isn't one of the 20 best basketball players based on the set of facts I just created.

He won an MVP and a Finals MVP. He made four first-team All-NBA’s and five second-team All-NBA’s. He won 50-plus games for 11 straight years, topped 60 wins three times, made two Finals, beat LeBron and Wade in the Finals, and won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan’s prime.

And we all know, "Having won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan's prime" is the MOST IMPORTANT cherry-picked criteria of all. Not even LeBron James has done this. Michael Jordan didn't do it. Magic Johnson didn't do it.

Amazing but true: Dirk never played with a Hall of Famer in that Hall of Famer’s prime.

See, now this is a fact. See how that works, Bill? It's fine to base an opinion off this fact, because the fact isn't an opinion, but has concrete proof behind it. There is a basketball Hall of Fame and Dirk hasn't played with a Hall of Famer while in his prime. Baby steps...

Bill starts listing Dirk's statistics as he is prone to do in order to kill space. Dirk is great, I'll leave it at that.

That’s why I dislike comparing Carmelo and Dirk. But I keep coming back to these two playoff lines:
2011 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 49-46-94%, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER
 

2009 Melo (16 games): 27.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 45-36-83%, 9.0 FTA, 24.3 PER

Bill dislikes comparing Carmelo to Dirk, but he doesn't hate it enough to base his opinion that Carmelo can be the best player on an NBA title team on a direct comparison to Dirk's 2011 Mavs. Then Bill directly compares Carmelo and Dirk's playoff statistics to each other. But yeah, he dislikes that comparison.

The 2009 Nuggets were Carmelo’s best team; they fell to Kobe’s Lakers in Round 3 with a poor man’s version of the 2011 Mavs. George Karl wasn’t Carlisle. Nene and Kenyon Martin couldn’t protect the rim like Chandler. They didn’t have a perimeter defender anywhere close to Marion’s caliber. They couldn’t shoot 3s nearly as well (only 31 percent for that Lakers series). They relied way too heavily on J.R. Smith, who imploded against Kobe and got outscored 204 points to 76 points.

This is the same J.R. Smith who was the second-best player on the 2014 Knicks by the way.

Again, in all caps … THAT’S THE MOST TALENTED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM THAT CARMELO ANTHONY EVER PLAYED ON.
The second-best team? You might remember them self-destructing just 14 months ago — it was the 2013 Knicks squad that won 54 games in a lousy conference with Melo, a past-his-peak Chandler, J.R. Smith, Ray Felton, a washed-up K-Mart, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, a hobbled Amar’e Stoudemire and the immortal Mike Woodson coaching.
Again, in all caps … THAT’S THE SECOND-MOST TALENTED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM THAT CARMELO ANTHONY EVER PLAYED ON.

Now take that team, add another year to Chandler, add Andrei Bargnani, add another 15 pounds to Felton, and take away Chris Copeland. That was the 2014 Knicks.

So could Carmelo morph into 2011 Dirk if you gave him the right situation? We don’t know because he’s never been in the right situation.

Which is why it is silly to announce Carmelo isn't a superstar based on criteria where he could only be a superstar by being in the right situation.

As a last gasp, they used the Lakers as negotiating leverage (you better sign-and-trade Melo to Chicago or you’ll lose him for nothing!), only Jackson smartly sniffed it out. That left Carmelo with three choices:

Choice No. 1: Grab $122 million over five years from New York, play with another inferior team, miss the Finals for his 12th straight season, and pin the rest of his prime — which he’s never getting back, by the way — on Jackson’s promise that “We’ll Have Gobs of Cap Space in the Summer of 2015!!!”

This, along with more first round draft picks, is the promise the Celtics have made to the entire fanbase while attempting to trade the only player on the team who could be considered a star. I feel this requires mentioning.

Choice No. 3: Sign a four-year deal in Chicago for less money (starting around $14-15 million), become the crunch-time guy for an absolutely loaded Bulls team, and answer every question anyone ever asked about him.

At the same time, I wanted to know once and for all. I wanted to know how good Carmelo Anthony is. Because, right now, I believe the following things:
1. He’s one of the best natural scorers I’ve ever seen.
 

2. He’s one of the NBA’s eight or nine best players and has been for some time.
 

3. He could win you a title on his version of the 2011 Mavs.

Again, those are just opinions.

So far this entire column, including the decision that Carmelo is not a superstar and the idea that Lakers fans didn't want to sign Carmelo, are opinions as well. They are proven correct mostly using more opinions.

But what am I about to present to you? All facts.

1. His best team ever was the 2009 Nuggets. (Covered above.)
2. His best teammates ever: Chauncey Billups (post-Detroit version), Allen Iverson (post-Philly version), Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire (post-Phoenix version, right as his knees were going), Tyson Chandler (post-Dallas version), Kenyon Martin (post-Nets version), Nene (never an All-Star — not once) and the one and only J.R. Smith.

I'm not entirely sure Bill understands what an "opinion" is. I feel like Bill believes an opinion is a belief based on a future outcome and not a belief based on a prior outcome. While I can't argue necessarily with #1 and #2 above, they are both most certainly very close to be an opinion. Inarguable opinions, but opinions nonetheless.

4. He had only four teammates make an All-Star Game: Iverson (2007, 2008), Billups (2009, 2010), Amar’e (2011) and Chandler (2013).

That wasn't even the good All-Star version of those players either. Yuck.

5. He had five head coaches in 11 years: Jeff Bzdelik (never coached again),

Well, he was the head coach for the Wake Forest men's basketball team, but it's true he never did coach again. Bzdelik was the head coach, but mostly just managed the constant wave of transfers out of the Wake Forest program during his tenure.
 
Meanwhile, Dirk had three coaches in 15 years: Don Nelson (Hall of Famer), Avery Johnson (made a Finals and also won 67 games in a season) and Rick Carlisle (future Hall of Famer).

Wait, is this true? Rick Carlisle is a future Hall of Famer? I think he's a great coach, but a future Hall of Famer?

7. He suffered bad luck two different times — when an already loaded Pistons team unbelievably picked Darko over him in 2003, and when his agent didn’t follow LeBron’s and Wade’s lead by putting a three-year out into Melo’s first contract extension (with Denver). In the summer of 2010, Melo could have stolen Bosh’s spot in Miami or jumped to the up-and-coming Bulls, only he couldn’t get out of his deal for another year. Those were his two best chances to find a true contender. 0-for-2.

But alternatively, when he had the chance to take less money this past offseason and join the Bulls, a team that was a true contender, he chose to take the money in New York. Carmelo had a chance to find a true contender and his choice was get more money in New York with the Knicks. Bill can't lose sight of this.

9. Carmelo is averaging 25.3 points for his entire career. Only 13 players averaged at least 25 points, and only 10 have a higher average than Melo: Jordan (30.1), Wilt (30.1), LeBron (27.5), Durant (27.4), Elgin (27.4), West (27.0), Iverson (26.7), Pettit (26.4), Oscar (25.7) and Kobe (25.5). Yes, that’s a list with six Hall of Famers and four future Hall of Famers.

And most of these guys can be considered superstars too, which leads me to the dead horse I won't beat. Carmelo may not be a superstar, but he's got a lot going for him statistically that could lead a person in that direction. What he doesn't do is meet Bill's subjective criteria to be considered a superstar.

Then Bill compares Carmelo favorably to Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce, Adrian Dantley, and Bernard King. This, naturally, leads to a brief discussion of the Boston Celtics because Bernard King played well against the Celtics. This impresses Bill to no end.

Bernard doubled as the most frightening non-Jordan scorer I’ve ever seen in my life — he took the 1984 Celts to a Game 7 by himself, for God’s sake. My team threw Kevin McHale (the NBA’s best defender at the time) and Cedric Maxwell at him, with Bird helping and Robert Parish protecting the rim, and it just didn’t matter.

There is the brief discussion. This column wouldn't be complete without a small Celtics remembrance from the 1980's.

Carmelo? He’s 92 percent as frightening as 1984 Playoff Bernard was. 

Not 91% or 93%, but 92% as frightening as 1984 Playoff Bernard was. These are very specific statistics based on whatever number comes out of Bill's brain at the time. You want facts? There's your facts.

14. You realize that Carmelo is better right now than he’s ever been, right?
• Years 1-2: 20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 43-30-79%, 17.2 PER, 35.7 mpg, 28.8 usage, .094 WS/48
 

• Years 3-9: 25.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 46-33-81%, 21.4 PER, 36.3 mpg, 32.0 usage, .140 WS/48
 

• Years 10-11: 28.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 45-39-84%, 24.6 PER, 37.9 mpg, 33.9 usage, .177 WS/48
As his offensive workload has increased, he’s figured out how to become even MORE efficient by expanding his shooting range to 25 feet … only he’s never stopped getting to the free throw line, either.

But again, don't consider him a superstar. He couldn't even take the Knicks to the playoffs this year. You like how Bill talks out of both sides of his mouth a little here? He says Carmelo is great and goes to great lengths to prove it, but he also makes sure he has a mention in this column that maybe Carmelo should be moved down into the All-Star ranking of Bill's arbitrary rankings.

So what’s left? Can’t we downgrade him to All-Star and be done with it? Isn’t 11 years enough time to know — to truly, unequivocally know — whether it’s with television shows, music groups, girlfriends, quarterbacks or basketball players?

So Bill is sort of covered no matter how Carmelo's career pans outs. He has said perhaps Carmelo should be downgraded to All-Star level and then goes on and on about how great of a player Carmelo still is. All bases are covered.

And you know what else? Carmelo never received enough credit for playing efficiently as a hybrid small forward/stretch 4, especially last season,

This from the guy who asks the open-ended question of whether Carmelo isn't even an almost-but-not-quite superstar, but instead is just an All-Star.

Everyone bitched about his “ball-stopping” — something of which he’s definitely been guilty, from time to time, over the past few years — but when your coach is in a basketball coma and your entire offense has degenerated into “throw the ball to Melo and he’ll have to create a shot,” what do you expect? Every opponent went into every Knicks game saying, “As long as we don’t let Carmelo kill us, we’re winning tonight.” And he still threw up 28 a night and played the most efficient basketball of his career. 

As I am prone to doing when reaching near the end of a Bill Simmons column, I have to ask, what was the point of this column? It's shockingly rambling, even for a Bill Simmons column, it doesn't appear to prove anything other than Carmelo Anthony is better than "we" think, and the basic premise (that Carmelo's potential will never be achieved because he chose to go back to New York rather than take a pay cut and go to Chicago) is only mentioned and never actually stated explicitly by Bill. So this column is rather indicative of Bill's worst rambling qualities.

If you think of him like a Hall of Fame wide receiver — say, Larry Fitzgerald — Carmelo’s career makes more sense. 

No, it doesn't. It makes more sense to simply state Carmelo never reached his potential because he never played on a team that allowed him to achieve his potential, rather than start using an overcomplicated analogy that says this same thing, only with more work involved to reach the conclusion.

Fitz tossed up monster stats with Kurt Warner throwing to him. Once the likes of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb started passing through his life, he wasn’t throwing up monster stats anymore. But nobody ever stopped believing Fitz was great.

Fitzgerald had 954 yards with Carson Palmer throwing him the football last year. Does Fitzgerald require a Hall of Fame quarterback to reach his potential or something?

We made excuses for him that weren’t even excuses.

"We" didn't make any excuses for Fitzgerald. Stop using "we" to indicate what "you" believe.

Why didn’t we ever feel sorry for Carmelo? It’s simple — he placed himself in this situation.

Oh, so that's why "we" didn't feel bad for Carmelo. I was wondering why "we" didn't feel bad for him. In this case, I didn't feel bad for Carmelo because he could have left this summer and chose not to. That's a lot of money to give up though and Phil Jackson isn't a tough guy to put some faith in.

There’s a good chance he will play his entire career, then retire, without ever finding the right team. Unless the Knicks miraculously strike oil next summer, his own version of the 2011 Mavericks can’t happen.

Another reference to that 2011 Mavericks team led by Dirk, the same reference and comparison that Bill dislikes so much and has made so often.

There was an alternate universe here — Chicago, for less money, for a chance to become Olympic Melo for nine months per year. He would have been flanked by Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, Kirk Hinrich and a top-five coach (Tom Thibodeau). He would have found his 2011 Mavs.

The comparison to Dirk again...by the way, that Bulls team is better than the 2011 Mavericks. This is especially true if Derrick Rose comes back healthy.

Thirty years from now, long after he has retired and hopefully spent his more than $300 million nest egg wisely, Carmelo will be sitting on the porch of one of his nine houses, nursing a drink, staring out at an ocean and thinking about the unknown. Should he have picked Chicago? How much money is enough money? What’s the price of peace? What would it have been worth to know — to really, truly know? Was he good enough? Could he have gotten there? Did he have it in him?

Or he will be sitting there thinking about all of the money he made playing basketball professionally and that's nice to have? He can also look at his Olympic Gold medals and know he won an NCAA Championship for Jim Boeheim as well. There are some things he can hang his hat on outside of deep thoughts about the price of peace.

Instead, he’ll have to settle for people like me: the ones maintaining that he WAS good enough, only it’s an opinion and not a fact.

Right. Much of this column was based on an opinion (like how many superstars are in the NBA) that Bill masquerades as facts.

In A Bronx Tale, Sonny famously tells Calogero that “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Well, what happens if you didn’t waste your talent, but it kind of got wasted anyway?

But Anthony did waste his talent according to Bill. Twice Anthony had the chance to join a contending team with a stronger roster and both times he set it up to where he didn't up choosing this path. So Anthony did waste his talent in a way, and Bill even states that in this column. Anyway, speaking of wasted talent, this is the end of another Bill Simmons rambling column. 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a rather minor nitpick in the never-ending maze that is a Bill Simmons column but Bill clearly didn't pay attention to After Earth. Will Smith shared top billing with his son, although his name usually was first in the posters, and that movie didn't exactly light up the box so clearly Will Smith can't open a movie by himself.

Although admittedly, one could make the argument that the movie failed because no one wants to see an M. Night Shyamalan movie anymore

Slag-King said...

I like Anon's point about Bill's columns are a never-ending maze. I nominate that Bengoodfella starts all of Bill Simmons' blog critique with the word "Mazerunner".

Example: "Mazerunner: Bill's friend Doesn't Want Carmelo Anthony on the Lakers Team, So Obviously Most Lakers Fans Felt That Way"

Like you, my brain exploded reading Bill's rationale.


HH said...

Fun fact: there is no Superstar or Almost-Superstar on the team that just won the NBA title.

Snarf said...

HH, I feel like you pointing this out put something into the universe that will inspire Bill to write an opus about how the 2014 Spurs are the most secretly overrated underrated team that we didn't consider legitimate contenders prior to the season, or even after (using his rankings as proof, of course).

rich said...

Only one problem: Dirk was better than Carmelo is.

Dirk is one of the 20 best basketball players of all time by any calculation.


Bill, you opened your fucking article calling Carmelo, "one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history".

So could Carmelo morph into 2011 Dirk if you gave him the right situation?

I'm not going to argue Dirk isn't a great player, but when he was 30, he had been to the conference finals twice, with one trip to the finals.

He had three years of losing in the first round and three years where his team missed the playoffs.

When he was 31, the Mavericks lost in the first round... and then, this is important, won a fucking title the following year.

Since winning the title? First round loss, missed playoffs, first round loss.

To argue that Carmelo isn't as good as Dirk because Dirk has more playoff success is one of the most astoundingly stupid fucking things I've ever heard.

When Carmelo joined the Knicks, they had missed the playoffs 8 of the last 9 years, the year they made the playoffs? They lost in the first round.

The year before the Knicks got Carmelo, they won 29 games. The year they got Carmelo, they won 42. Since then, they've won 37, 54 and 36 games.

The Knicks wasted a ton of cap on their version of Andrew Bynum (Amare), had some baffling head coaching choices (D'Antoni).

Bill Simmons is a fucking child.

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

Great post - this was a terrible column. I would add that Bill was full of horseshit when comparing carmelo's coaches to dirk. His premise is that Carmelo never played for a good coach and Dirk played for a bunch of amazing wizard coaches. I will not argue that michael cooper, jeff bzdelik or mike woodson are great nba coaches, but Melo spent the majority of his career with George Karl.

George Karl (coached 1,887 games, only won two Finals games)

First of all, the idea that this alone makes him a bad coach is pure lunacy. It's a lazy and disingenuous argument, and I would guess that pretty much every single person working in an NBA front office would consider George Karl an excellent coach. But in the context of the rest of the paragraph, his criticism of Karl becomes even more laughably specious.

Meanwhile, Dirk had three coaches in 15 years: Don Nelson (Hall of Famer)

1) George Karl is a future Hall of Famer
2) Don Nelson coached 2398 games and won a grand total of ZERO finals games because unlike Karl, Nelson never even made the finals.

So by Bill's own (conveniently cherry-picked) criteria, George Karl (with whom Melo spent about 6 seasons) is indisputably superior to Don Nelson (with whom Dirk spent his first 6.5) seasons

Avery Johnson (made a Finals and also won 67 games in a season)

George Karl has had teams that won 61, 63, and 64 games and has also made a finals. Avery Johnson has just as many finals wins (2) as Karl, which according to simmons is an inexcusably low number. Also, Simmons references Avery Johnson's accomplishments to show that Dirk has played for such an amazing coach, ignoring that Avery Johnson won 67 games and made the finals primarily because of Dirk.

Bill hand-picked super specific criteria designed to paint an unfavorable picture of George Karl and a favorable picture of Nelson/Johnson, but even by his conveniently picked criteria it turns out that Nelson/Johnson (for whom Dirk played for 10 seasons) are objectively worse than George Karl (under whom Carmelo spent 6 seasons).

Anonymous said...

Following up on the previous comment, it's also worth noting that George Karl's two Finals wins came against one of the greatest teams in NBA history, the '96 Bulls. Winning two games against them was nothing to scoff at.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I didn't see that movie b/c of your last sentence and Will Smith sort of annoys me. I wish I had made the point that the movie was clearly a vehicle for his son Jaden anyway. It's true and I do believe it was a disappointment.

Slag, I may do that. It is like a maze though. It's sort of like a South Park episode in that about 80% of the way through I'm thinking, "How the hell did we get to this point? Wasn't this supposed to be about something else?"

Snarf, my God...Bill will do that. I can feel it's happening and he will have a theory that he creates which will prove the point he wants to make is correct.

HH, so does that mean a team doesn't need those guys? And what about Kawhi Leonard? Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that Bill was telling us Kawhi Leonard was comparable to Scottie Pippen? Sounds like a Superstar or Almost Superstar to me...or maybe Bill is projecting...or maybe the Scottie Pippen comparison is premature.

Rich, those are good points. Bill's ideas about Anthony and Dirk are not as strong when confronted with Dirk's record before/after his championship and how well the Knicks did prior to coming to the Knicks. Anthony did chase the money by going by to New York. That's true, but I'm even entirely sure what's Bill's point was.

Arjun, thanks for telling me to read this column. Very good points. Part of the fun in writing Simmons columns is there are other avenues I could nitpick him if I had thought/chosen to do so. I didn't think of taking criticism directed towards the comparison of Don Nelson and George Karl. I wish I had thought of that because it's a good point. There is a good argument that can be made that even though Don Nelson won a ton of games that George Karl is the better coach. The point about how Karl took two games from the Bulls in the Finals is very impressive. I have to admit that Bill's own comparison proves Karl is the better coach. Karl is a very good coach and I think (now that you pointed it out) Bill really missed on this comparison.

Very good points and it shows that sometimes Bill works so hard to prove a point he misses that his point doesn't always makes sense or contradicts in some way. Sort of how I got so focused on criticizing Bill in other ways and missed that point.

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