Author: Matt Moore

Anthony of the U.S. smiles from the bench during his game against Nigeria at their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games

Melo says that he’s called selfish because of Linsanity


Carmelo Anthony apparently thinks that the whole idea of him being “selfish” started with Linsanity. Yeah. From USA Today:

But he pinpoints exactly when the “Anthony is selfish” meme began.

“Let’s be frank about it,” he said. “When it comes to the Knicks, we’re talking about one particular point in time. We’re talking about the whole ‘Linsanity’ thing. That’s when it started. That’s when it started to escalate as far as people saying I was selfish.”

“Lin came and we started winning games and then we started losing games, and they could only point to one thing, which is me, the leader of the team,” Anthony said. “They’re not going to point to Amar’e. They’re not going to point to (guard) Iman Shumpert. They’re going to point to me. I accept that. It doesn’t bother me.”

via Carmelo Anthony shows a different side with Team USA –

OK, well, that’s nice that he’s got a persecution complex about Jeremy Lin, but that’s not entirely accurate. Anthony was described not as selfish but as having too high of a usage rate dating back for years. It was part of the complexion of the discussion surrounding his potential and eventual trade to the Knicks that he is a high-usage player with a limited capacity for playmaking outside of scoring who isn’t an elite defender and in short, loves the ball and shooting the ball and all the things with the ball.

This was not a new development, nor was it something that was born out of Jeremy Lin. Lin simply served as an example of what can happen when you don’t settle for an isolation-centric offense, which is what Anthony is most comfortable with. Anthony’s not selfish. He wants to win. But if you’re comfortable doing something, and you’re good at it, you’re going to think that’s the best way to succeed. But Lin showed that there’s another way, a way where more people are involved and Anthony doesn’t have the ball. But Anthony couldn’t find a way to mesh with that. Whether that had something to do with Lin being gone is irrelevant to this discussion, it’s just a fact. He’s not there anymore, and the Knicks will almost entirely be built around ISOMelo.

But let’s not pretend like the topic of whether Anthony’s game is too self-focused started in February. This has been going on for years.


Paul Pierce says he’ll consider playing beyond 2014, and maybe not in Boston

Boston Celtics' Pierce is defended by Miami Heat's Wade and James in Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoff series in Miami

Paul Pierce was drafted a Celtic. He has been a Celtic in good times and bad. From Ricky Davis to Antoine Walker, to Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, Pierce has been a Boston Celtic and has defined the franchise since the turn of the century.

But the end is in sight for Pierce, and he’s accomplished as much as he needs to to cement his legacy in Boston. He’ll never be Bird, but he’s going to be up there with McHale, Parrish, Havlicek. Pierce has talked in the past about playing overseas when he retires. But before that happens, he’s talking about playing more than two more seasons, and then… seeing what his offers are to play elsewhere. From the Boston Globe:

About his contract, which has a team option for 2013-14: “I think I am going to play this one out. I want to see what it feels like to be a free agent for once in my life. I think I am going to play this one out. A lot can change in two years. My body (may not) be where I want it to be, I could retire, a lot of things could happen. It’s not about the money at this point. I love the game. I made as much money as I possibly can. It’s about winning a championship and if I feel like it’s the right thing to do, maybe so (come back) but I really don’t know the specifics on the KG deal or Jason Terry’s deal. If i solidify my third year, maybe they opt out, so it’s about keeping your options open.”

via Pierce continues talking about contract, Celtics future -Celtics blog – Boston Globe basketball news.

Seeing Pierce in anything but green would be bizarre, but if the Celtics finally, finally actually commit to a youth movement, it may be for the best to move on. He could finish out in California where he’s from and give people seizures by playing in Lakers gold. He could head to another team bent on playing veterans. But either way, he’ll get to experience free agency, provided his body can keep up.

But the best odds? Pierce was drafted a Celtic, Pierce was always a Celtic, Pierce retires as a Celtic.

The Inbounds: Saint Anthony and America’s war on isolation

Anthony of the U.S. smiles from the bench during his game against Nigeria at their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games

Welcome to The Inbounds, touching on a big idea of the day. It could be news, it could be history, it could be a tangent, it could be love. OK, it’s probably not love. Enjoy. Today, a bonus segment.

So Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points in an Olympic basketball game Thursday, and based on probability, you reacted in one of four ways ways as a God-fearing NBA fan.

1. You were excited and thrilled that Anthony put on such an amazing performance for your country and in awe of his ability to put the ball in the basketball with that kind of frequency.

2. You noted how despite the amount of criticism Anthony withstands and his relative stature in the NBA superstar tapestry that he’s still truly one of the best players in the world and you cannot understand why people forget that so often.

3. You are left in polite admiration but simultaneous outrage that he doesn’t play that way all the time.

4. Some combination of the two depending on if you’re a Knicks, Celtics, Heat fan or none of the above.

It’s a terrific wormhole to go down. Melo was able to do what he did because he was facing Nigeria. Anthony only put himself in that position because he’s surrounded by that much talent. It takes that kind of talent to put his ego in a place where he can play catch-and-shoot. Melo just had a hot night (that’s an understatement). What he did wasn’t all that different from what he does with the Knicks. You can literally interpret Anthony’s performance in the 156-73 win in group play however you would like. You have to say he played well and that you were impressed. From there, you can go any route you want.

But it’s the structure of how Anthony scored that intrigues. Catch-and-shoot. It makes sense, right? You have one of the world’s best shooters, an elite scorer, with a significant size advantage over his defender. Why on Earth would you not use him as a catch-and-shoot player when you have LeBron James and Chris Paul throwing the ball to him after collapsing the defense each time? On the Knicks, he’ll never have the luxury of anyone else drawing that kind of attention. So comparing his exploits with Team USA to anything he does with the Knicks is futile.

Except, it’s not. Not really.

Part of what has made the Knicks’ approach so confusing is that they’ve essentially gone against the overriding principle in so many superstar teams’ design. Take Boston, for example. Paul Pierce no longer has to run point, dribbling at the timeline, directing traffic before trying to slice past four guys. Ray Allen isn’t jab-stepping defenders back so he can rise and fire over them. Kevin Garnett isn’t running point forward. In Miami, Chris Bosh is an outlet scorer and offensive rebound tip-in machine. That’s his job. In L.A., Pau Gasol’s not having the ball go through him every time (though that one can be argued is a bad thing). The point is that one of the luxuries of having multiple superstars it the ability to put an elite player in a role player’s position and watch him destroy because he’s so much better at that singular talent than the average replacement player.

And for Anthony, his VORP as a spot-up shooter is through the roof.

But of course, the Knicks not only can’t use him that way, but they eliminated any situation where he could be.

When Anthony returned after Linsanity (yep, we’re back to him again), there was a possibility for this all to work out. Anthony needed to adopt the role of a superior, obscenely-rich-man’s Shawn Marion in Mike D’Antoni’s Suns. By being the outlet shooter off the drive and kick on the baseline, by being the weakside off-ball cutter, but being the spot-up guy in transition, Anthony could not only keep but raise his scoring production while not having to run isolation sets every single time. With Amar’e Stoudemire running the pick and roll or Chandler doing the same, there would be lanes and opportunities. Instead, be it Melo’s preference or D’Antoni’s design, Anthony wound up drifting on the perimeter. He wasn’t just a spot-up shooter, he was scenery.

That dream of him working in an offensive set to move, catch, and score, is dead, replaced by the dystopian Woodson Isolation nightmare that awaits Knicks fans next year. But Team USA provides an alternative, not just for Anthony, but for Kobe Bryant, for LeBron James, for Kevin Durant, for Russell Westbrook. The shame is that the quality of the surrounding talent convinces them that the only reason this works is because they’re surrounded by that much talent. They can’t comprehend the same style working for them within the constructs of their teams. Whether that’s overconfidence in their abilities or a lack of confidence in the ability of others is inconsequential. The fact remains that these players will embrace roles where they do role player functions with superstar ability, and dominate the greatest players in the world. And instead of drawing on that experience and trying to replicate it, they will instead abandon it for some sort of 82-game “Quick and the Dead” impression where they duel one on one with everything like this is Teen Wolf.

For a day, for these few weeks, really, Anthony’s a saint. He’s a basketball icon teaching the world about how to play for it. Wait for your open shot, be ready, move without the ball, catch, rise, fire. And Team USA is showing one another and the world that there’s a better way than getting the ball at the perimeter, dribbling for fifteen seconds, and then hoisting up a jumper.

In twelve weeks, they’ll return to doing the same things, but for now, they play, maybe not the right way, but the best way, and they work hard to make things easy for one another. What’s amazing isn’t that someone as talented as Anthony did what he did on Thursday. It’s that Anthony and the rest of Team USA will forget the lesson learned by the star players who played as role players and made things easy for themselves.

You can be all things among your friends, but in the end, you cannot get away from who you are, for better or worse. It’s neither good nor bad. It simply is.