Saturday 30th May 2020,

Former Knick Charles Oakley Questions Whether Melo Is a Superstar

oakleyDoesn’t Charles Oakley know that, contrary to his playing days, the NBA is like one big band of loving brothers exchanging hugs and fist bumps and laudatory pleasantries?

Sure doesn’t seem like it.

The former New York Knicks bruiser is now on record as questioning Carmelo Anthony’s superstar status. Seriously. From the New York Post‘s Zach Braziller:

Charles Oakley isn’t sure the Knicks can build as championship team around Carmelo Anthony.

The rugged former fan favorite said the Knicks need a complete overhaul, and isn’t sure what the team has in the $125 million man Anthony now that he is 30 years old and coming off left knee surgery.

“Is he still a superstar or is he going to be a complimentary player?” the 51-year-old Oakley said Tuesday during BTIG Charity Day on the East Side. “You win [17] games, I don’t know. He made the All-Star game. He played on the All-Star team, but he didn’t play during the season.”

When told Anthony makes superstar money, Oakley scoffed.

“I didn’t give him the contract,” Oakley said. “He won a championship at Syracuse. What’s the potential? They give a lot of people $100 million.”

Let’s make one thing clear. Carmelo Anthony is a superstar. To say he isn’t a superstar is to demand change for how we define superstars.

Most of us can admit the designation is handed out in cavalier fashion, often without regard for what it actually means, beyond a player in question being really good. So if we want to change how we use the term, by all means, let’s do it, and then see whether Melo’s play style and reputation stands the test of that change.

But superstars aren’t defined solely by their ability to headline title contenders. Not anymore at least. These debates go beyond rings and the potential to win rings. Play style matters. Winning matters. But so too do statistics and reputation and persona and individual confidence and how a player is portrayed in general. Melo has marketed himself well, despite receiving flack for forcing his way to New York, and then staying there.

More than that, he has generated results. This year’s craptastic team basically ran the equivalent of a top-10 offense when he was on the floor, per Basketball-Reference. That’s pretty incredible, considering the talent jalopy Phil Jackson placed around him.

If we’ve learned anything about Melo, it’s that no, he cannot headline a championship team on his own. But no one player can anymore. It takes a village of talent, often multiple superstars. And those superstars aren’t any less of a superstar because they cannot win titles on their own.

The NBA has changed. This is what it’s become. And while Melo is certainly flawed—more so than most superstars, in fact—he’s still a superstar in today’s sense, championship or not.


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