Spike Lee and his fellow Knick fans will have to pick someone else to yell at in Madison Square Garden for the remaining 29 games this year, as the Knicks have shut down star forward Carmelo Anthony for the season. Anthony will undergo surgery to repair the patellar tendon in his knee, which generally requires an eight week recovery. However, some physicians speculate that Anthony, who came to the Mecca of basketball in 2011, is more injured than the team is letting on. Phil Jackson, the president of basketball operations for the Knicks, has said he expects Anthony’s recuperation to take four to six months.
Knicks fans, and sports fans in general, are divided on this issue. The season-long shutdown comes less than a week after Anthony played more than 30 minutes in the NBA All-Star Game hosted in MSG. While he looked uninterested, he didn’t necessarily look injured. Basketball fans are wondering, after a pedestrian season by Anthony, how hurt he is and why he’s been playing this long. If he is this hurt, there is no logical reason for him to have been on the court for this long. The Knicks are an abysmal 10-43, with virtually no chance of making the NBA playoffs. And if Anthony isn’t as hurt as he is leading on, then the Knicks may be shutting him down in order to tank the season and get a better draft pick in the summer.
This is a dividing issue in sports — whether teams should be allowed to purposefully lose in order to pick higher in the draft and theoretically draft a better player. Anthony’s fall from some Knicks fans’ grace has been well-chronicled, but a lot of Knicks fans, like Tisch senior Kahlil Maskati, think that it was the right decision for Anthony to cut his season short.
“I think it’s the right thing to do for his knee,” Maskati said. “We’re not in playoff contention, so the young players can gain more experience and we can ensure a higher draft pick.”
Maskati, who has been a Knicks fan for the better part of his life, wasn’t bothered by the All-Star game appearance either, implying the hometown star made the right decision by giving his fans a showing, even if it was one in which Anthony scored just 14 points on 20 shots.
“As for playing in the All-Star game, he knew he was going to shut it down anyway, so it’s not like he was choosing that over helping us with a playoff push,” Maskati said. “And, the game was in New York.”
The dismal Knicks don’t have a lot to look forward to, especially now that Anthony won’t be on the court every night. Either way, it seems that Anthony can’t win. If he was hurt all season, many fans will say it was the wrong decision to play at all and jeopardize the rest of his mammoth five year, $124 million contract. If he isn’t hurt, then it’s hard to not call Anthony selfish for distancing himself from his teammates for the rest of the season just because they’re one of the NBA’s worst teams. This exact type of behavior can alienate fan bases and season ticket holders.
Whether Anthony and the Knicks made the right decision is a question that will probably be answered by his play upon return. Either way, the Knickerbockers and their fans are desperate for some good news, and it may be a while before they finally hear it.
Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]