“Mama there goes that meme!”: It’s all Melo’s fault

“Mama there goes that Meme!” is a weekly HoopSpeak feature in which Beckley Mason and Ethan Sherwood Strauss, like curious extraterrestrials, probe, abuse, and ultimately learn from a popular media meme.”

Beckley: Hey Ethan, let’s blow the dust off the ol’ meme machine and investigate the mystery of New York’s flip-flopping fan base, who have been flambeing Carmelo Anthony since the team decided to make a run at Anthony Davis in the 2012 draft.

I can’t say as I blame them. Expectations frame perception, and time was a man could trade for a superstar and know he got the best bargain, almost no matter what the cost. But just about everyone has come around to the fact that Carmelo Anthony, pedigree and talent notwithstanding, is not The King (as in James), though the ransom paid for his services suggests otherwise. Heck, the New York Times even called on our TrueHoop Network cousin Jeremy Wagner to explain that Melo’s game is more seductive than productive.

The Knicks stink. But I can’t help wondering if this is Carmelo’s fault at all. Like the rest of the ‘bockers, his offseason shooting training with Reggie Evans appears to be backfiring, but his assist % is at a career high and he’s clearly trying (at least on offense). And after all, he didn’t trade for himself.  There are other, more serious problems here.

You secretly love the Knicks almost as much as you overtly hate Carmelo-hype. Where do you stand on this, and is Melo the symptom or the disease?

Ethan: Hold up! Stop the presses! Knicks just clubbed Charlotte, EVERYTHING IS SOLVED! Quick, throw D’Antoni’s 1,000 degree seat into the liquid nitrogen tank, cool that sucker down!

Sorry, just doing my best to mimic a hyperbolic fanbase, media. As the presses restart, I think your 2012 draft comment just prompted a, “KNICKS TO GET ANTHONY DAVIS DUE TO HISTORIC BASKETBALL MAGNA CARTA WEDDING TOAST BLOOD PACT” headline at a few NYC ink mills.

But wait, did you say you can’t blame the New York fans? The same ones who once chanted, “We Want Me-lo” to the degree that D’Antoni begged against it? Much as no fanbase deserves a Dolan dose, Knicks supporters seem to have taken on the character of the owner. They’re reactive, impatient, and in constant pursuit of the flashy fix that isn’t one.

Expectations frame perception, frame happiness. Then I ask to Knicks fans: What’s wrong with you people? Why did you expect a one-dimensional scorer to be the franchise savior that makes you coo like rubbed quails? This team was plunged into expensive despair for much of the 2000’s precisely because Isaiah Thomas kept adding scorers. There are other elements of basketball, you thin-pizza-munching lovers of the contrived nature that is a city park.

The Melo affair brought out the worst Big Apple elements. First, there was the self-regarding entitlement, the idea that New York would get a grand superstar because New York wants that. Then, there was that famous New Yorker cartoon myopia–the one where the world outside Manhattan looks like far off rubble. The Knicks fan mob payed little attention to distant Denver, preferring their sepia, locally-sourced Syracuse memories of Saint Anthony. Had you people focused, you would have noticed a ball-stopper so stagnating that the very earth might stop rotating during his jab step sequence. Speaking of rotations…defensively, Melo is so continually late on those that he might as well be nicknamed, “Leap Year.”

This view of the solar system reveals why the Knicks' rotations are so slow (by Anthony Bain)

Beckley, I’m keeping my powder dry for your next bout of Carmelo apologism. I want to hear why Marbur–whoops, Freudian slip, there. I want to hear why Anthony is still a top player, how he can maintain respectability while existing as some blameless “symptom.” In the meantime, I’m staring at Knicks fans and yelling, “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES!”

(Cleveland beats New York, scientists put out a conclusive study on how D’Antoni’s seat is the number one cause of global climate change)

Beckley: I’ll answer your question with one of my own: what is Carmelo’s role in New York? Three point specialist? Pick-and-roll creator? Low-post threat? Isolation savant? He doesn’t know, and I sure can’t tell myself. (picture of Melo with Nash’s body?)

In Denver, his role was to get down court quickly and establish position or else receive a cross screen to get the ball in his favorite spots. He was asked to score and hit the offensive glass and little else. I know you’ve been secretly impressed by his passing ability, but for whom on the Knicks is he supposed to create? Even when operating a pick-and-roll, credible shooting threats are necessary to spread the floor.

My point, if it isn’t crystalline already, is that the Knicks are a grotesque, Frankenstein construction of a would-be contender. Who’s the brains behind this operation, on the court and off? That has never been Carmelo’s role, nor Stoudemire’s. The Knicks lack an organizing presence, a definable spirit.

Don’t try to trap me in a Camel-apologist dungeon of long two bricks. His talented was exaggerated by fans, but Melo isn’t responsible for the roster that now surrounds him. Why make him the villain when the owner and management are the ones who thought it would be smart to let Toney Douglas play 25 minutes a night.

People who focus on Melo over Dolan et al gasp at the symptom–on court play–rather than the festering, chronic disease of overly impetuous and impatient management.

Ethan:

I like how you’re trying to strong arm me into being “secretly impressed” by Melo’s passing ability, a tendency that seems more like a passing ability than any grand skill. Per your brick dungeon analogy, I almost feel like this pertains more to Dolan. Exterior media forces fanned his delirious thirst for Cask of ACarmelo, led him astray, and now they’re torching the tomb.

Image by Anthony Bain

Actually, that doesn’t work, Melo has agency here, he’s not a wine cask. This is more scorpion and the frog. Melo didn’t think he’d sting Dolan/fans, though they were foolish to jump on a scorpion’s back. While Anthony is more the symptom than the disease, his inherent flaws are causing NYC to sink towards lake bottom. Wait, or is Dolan the scorpion and Melo’s the frog?

In a way, isn’t everyone at fault here? Wasn’t everyone overly optimistic to the point of self destructive delusion?

Beckley: Yes! Blame everyone! For the last few seasons, Carmelo has gone from prodigy to a garish symbol of overvalued scoring. He embraces the type, but are we sure he’ll never change, evolve, progress?

I guess that’s besides the point. Carmelo will lead the headlines because that’s what he came to New York for in the first place: to be the star of stars, even if he’s sometimes a black hole with the ball. Hope has been unceremoniously replaced with bitterness and disillusionment. It’s a sticky and perhaps intractable situation that reminds too much of real life disappointment. We have a down economy, the world is quite literally running out of the stuff of life and now Carmelo Anthony can’t bring the Knicks a home series in the first round of the playoffs. The short cut was a dead end. I blame Obama.

It’s time to take the long view. Anthony isn’t going anywhere, he’s not up election. So let’s all quit with the whining, and embrace the threadbare future: 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

Ethan: This got weird.


Related posts:

  1. “Mama there goes that meme!” Ep. 1: Carmelo Anthony wants to be traded
  2. “Mama There Goes That Meme!” Ep. 3: B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
  3. “Mama There Goes That Meme!” Ep. 2: Beat those Heat!
  4. Mama There Goes That Meme!” Ep. 10: Thorns in Rose’s Crown
  5. “Mama There Goes That Meme!” Ep. 7: Contraction Traction, What’s Your Action?

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