NEW YORK—During All-Star Weekend, all eyes have been on Carmelo Anthony. The game is being played at his building, in his city, and he’s the ambassador for the Knicks. Unfortunately for Anthony, the Knicks team that he’s representing this year is the worst in the NBA at 10-43.
Anthony is keenly aware that the Knicks’ general awfulness isn’t ideal for the NBA.
“The league needs New York to be that powerhouse again,” Anthony said on Saturday after All-Star practice at Madison Square Garden. “The league needs the Lakers and Boston to be those powerhouses again.”
Last season was the first time in NBA history that the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics all missed the postseason, and unless the Celtics sneak into the eighth seed (not impossible, but certainly unlikely), that’s going to be the case again.
Anthony is right. New York and Los Angeles are the league’s two biggest markets. The Knicks and the Lakers get a lot of national exposure and games on television. That’s not great when neither team is worth watching, and ESPN has flexed several Knicks games out of their broadcast schedules for this season.
The NBA is in the midst of one of its best stretches in recent memory. The league is loaded with talent and highly likable superstars, and they just inked a massive new television agreement that will pay them almost $3 billion annually starting in 2016. But there is no doubt that there is more fan interest when those three franchises are relevant. The Celtics and Lakers have the most championships and most storied histories, and the Knicks play in the league’s most iconic arena in its biggest market.
It’s going to be years before the Knicks are back to being the powerhouse Anthony wants them to be. They haven’t been since they went to the Finals in 1999, and the next couple of years don’t look particularly promising.