Carmelo Anthony has won 23.
Even Chris Paul, who entered the NBA two years later, has won 28.
How does Melo reconcile being the least successful player among the four friends?
“I don’t think envy is kind of the right word,” Anthony said Friday morning. “I do look at my peers and say, ‘Damn, what am I doing wrong? I should be there.’ There was one point in time where they were looking at me like that. Made (the playoffs) 10, 11 years straight.
“Right now it’s kind of a rough patch for me. I’m trying to figure out a way to get out of it.”
This is an impressive amount of introspection from Melo.
There are numerous factors, including Melo’s choosing the security of a longer contract extension with the Nuggets. If he opted for a shorter deal, maybe he – not Chris Bosh – would’ve joined the Heat with LeBron and Wade in 2010. As it stood, Melo wasn’t a free agent that summer.
For too much of his career, Melo has lacked the all-around skills necessary to lead a team deep in the playoffs. He has long been a gifted scorer, and that skill draws the biggest paychecks. But his high salary has made it difficult for his teams to assemble the necessary complementary players around him. And he needs help more than the players considered his peers. Melo just hasn’t been as good individually as LeBron, Wade or Paul. Surrounding Melo with sufficient help wasn’t impossible. His salary just left little margin for error.
As Melo has expanded his game – especially as a passer and, in spurts, a defender – the Knicks have done a woeful job building a team around him. But again, he opted for financial security by staying with a New York team clearly headed nowhere (at least until it drafted Kristaps Porzingis).
Now Melo is 31, in the midst of another lost season, and it might be too late. How many more years can he play at a high level before his athleticism declines too far?
It’s good Melo is asking himself why he’s coming up short. It just would’ve been better if he did it years ago when he had more agency to do something about it.