Wow. Just...wow. One week into the season and we have an early announcement from the mountaintops of the Basketball Realm: Carmelo Anthony has arrived. Some may be thinking, "He's already been an all-star and is respected as one of the Elite players in the Association." That's true; but you know how I do it here at FU. My definition is a little different. It shall be explained after the random picture...
Before I get to Melo, my explanation must begin with Lebron. Prior to Lebron becoming the best player in the world, he was facing the same barrier two years ago. Then, in that epic seven-game series against the Celtics, he rose and threw one down over KG--the Defensive Player of the Year. Ever since, Lebron has been a different, meaner animal on the court; and it has taken a lot for teams to beat him, especially in the postseason. Yes, Lebron has already reached an NBA Finals and never faced a first-round exit. But that dunk on KG symbolized something more than just two points—more than just momentum in that game. It was a personal truth that he will forever hold self-evident.
Last season, Dwyane Wade was forced to reannounce his might. Coming off two injury-plagued seasons after Flash-ing his superpowers against the Mavs in the '06 Finals, people in South Beach and all around the NBA began to lose faith in their hero. But then, straight out of Marvel Comics, he harnessed his inner strength and emerged a new, better Flash. Last March, against his hometown team, Wade makes a steal and hits a running buzzer-beater three. The play in itself would have been enough, but the resulting leap onto the scorers' table and emphatic proclamation of "This is my house!" makes it that much more impactful. It was as if Wade was sick of all the doubt, the rumors of his demise—of his flaws. He needed to reassert himself as pillar of Awesome, and that table was his platform to do so.
So what can Melo attribute to this breakthrough and discovery of an even greater source of his abilities? Like most things in life, it's a combination of ingredients. Part of it is from watching Kobe's shinobi-like work ethic in Beijing. Part of it is due to losing the team war to the Mamba's Lakers in the Western Conf. Finals, despite winning the individual battle ('Melo bullied Kobe all over the court). The question that is begged is: Why did he proclaim "I'm back?" Few, if anyone, have doubted his offensive abilities. So why did he decide to yell that? I don't know him personally, but this is my assessment: "I'm back," wasn't the whole statement. He hasn't returned from anywhere other than the offseason. It was more like he was saying, "I'm back, meaner than ever." Anthony, to me, was letting the rest of the Basketball Realm know that his nickname will no longer be linked to his game. He will be a force on the grandest of magnitudes from this point forward. The scream wasn't a taunt meant to embarrass Paul Millsap, or a showboating gesture. Melo was simply saying that there's a new fire that burns inside of him; and it will take a hell of a lot for him to be defeated. Beware, NBA.