While much of America suffered through an ultra-dull Oscar ceremony, NBA Nation was riveted by a contest between the loaded Miami Heat and the Carmelo Anthony-Chauncey Billups supplemented New York Knicks. In the end, the Knicks triumphed 91-86, with Anthony dropping 29 on LeBron and company. So why did ESPN Radio's Jason Smith spend a chunk of his AllNight broadcast knocking Melo?
In a word: effort. Smith believes, correctly, that Anthony is talented enough to become an NBA legend, but he doesn't always demonstrate the type of commitment necessary to achieve this goal. In Smith's view, Melo and plenty of other gifted ballers -- he mentioned Lamar Odom, John Wall and Baron Davis -- seem satisfied with putting up big points and collecting enormous paychecks rather than putting in the work during practice and on the defensive end of the floor to become complete players.
Without expending the energy necessary to reach the next level, Anthony is still a very good performer, Smith acknowledges. But he doubts that Melo or the other athletes he called out will reach the next level unless they ramp up their dedication in a significant way.
Hard to argue with that logic. After all, the Knicks lost to the lowly Cleveland Cavs two days before dialing down the Heat. And against Miami, a key three late in the game by quiet MVP Chauncey Billups and a swat by Amare Stoudemire had every bit as much to do with the Knicks' victory as did Anthony's predictably robust point total.
Meanwhile, the new-look Nuggets face off against the Atlanta Hawks tonight -- and the team-first brand of ball they've played to date has been bracing. The want-to they've displayed thus far should be a lesson to Melo. But will he learn from it?
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