Should Knicks retire Carmelo Anthony's jersey?
Carmelo Anthony announced his retirement from basketball Monday morning, an official send-off to a storied career.
Upon the news, many Knicks fans lobbied online for the franchise to eventually retire the homegrown favorite’s jersey. This comes as no surprise given he’s the best individual talent this team has seen since Patrick Ewing, but does that entitle him to that honor?
Currently hanging from the rafters at Madison Square Garden are Walt Frazier, Dirk Barnett, Earl Monroe, Dick McGuire, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and Ewing. Noticeably missing are Bernard King, Allan Houston, Richie Guerin, Harry Gallatin and Michael Ray Richardson, among others.
Which group does Anthony fall in? His accomplishments and tenure seem to mimic King’s and Houston’s, but his status among the franchise faithful feels closer to Reed's.
Anthony played 6.5 years in New York, making the All-Star team each time and an All-NBA second and third team once each, averaging at least 20 points and six rebounds a night yearly, bringing home Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016, finishing third in MVP voting and winning the scoring title in 2013. He’s the seventh highest all-time Knicks scorer and third-highest in points per game and three-point makes, but only made the playoffs three times with only one series win.
That 2012-13 season was Anthony’s best, averaging 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists on 47.6 percent shooting on twos and 37.9 percent on threes. He emerged as a lethal off-ball shooter at the four position, similar to the role he played on Team USA, to great success and a second-seed finish.
Regardless of what the Knicks decide from here, that is an impressive tenure that makes up a fraction of a legendary career. Whether or not Anthony is deserving is entirely subjective, but we can try to compare his resume to those of the retired jerseys and snubs.
New York has set the standard pretty high. Five of the seven retirees were part of both championship-winning teams, and another one is Ewing.
Anthony played fewer years than all but one name on the list, with arguably half his Knicks career lost to injuries and Phil Jackson circa 2015-2017. On the flip side, he was the chief driver of the only stretch of winning basketball the team saw between 2001 and 2021.
On his lack of postseason success, the fault largely lies on the team-building processes out of his control. When he did make the playoffs, he was an outstanding performer, averaging
28 points, second highest in franchise history, with two 40-point performances.
Despite only two winning seasons in blue and orange, Melo’s individual accolades in that period surpass most waiting for their jersey retirement and some whose jerseys hang from the rafters if you ignore the chip. Some of his iconic moments included recording the highest-scoring game at MSG (62), scoring 50 points on all jumpers and the Easter Day miracle against the Bulls.
Not to mention, fan reverence is a wholly respectable benchmark in this exercise. If the majority think his jersey deserves hanging, who’s to say it doesn’t?
How much does being born and raised in New York, then supporting the franchise after his playing days take into account? Anthony is certainly an ambassador to a degree, though that hasn’t aided other cases.
Ultimately, if the fans want it, the Knicks should comply. Anthony gave a small glimpse of what greatness was possible to a new generation of fans who were unlucky to grow up on Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas running their team.
Anthony may have spent much of his career elsewhere, but his NBA prime and the place he wanted to be more than anywhere else was in New York. And the Knicks should be honored to have had him.