I’ve gone back and forth on Melo more times than I’d even venture to guess. Over his five or six years in New York it’s been hard to fully commit to an opinion on him. I’ve probably hated him more times than loved him, but there’s a sympathetic sap in me that does feel bad for what he’s been given to work with here. And as infuriating as it can be to watch him iso Melo the air out of the ball, I can also understand that when you’re as naturally gifted as he is at scoring the basketball, there’s comes a belief that you are doing what’s best for the team. It’s the Kobe mentality – the belief that “I’m so incredible at scoring that I truly believe me taking 30+ shots, even if they’re bad shots, gives us the best chance to win. Now, I fucking hate Kobe, which means I should hate Melo – but I can see where that frame of mind comes from. And while it was easy and fun to clown Melo for trying to be a CEO and buying office space and all of that ridiculous businessman stuff two years ago, it’s just as easy to commend him on finding his lane as one of, if not the most outspoken athlete on social justice.
And social justice Melo? I can get behind social justice Melo. Because social justice Melo… he knows who he is. He knows he’ll never be fully embraced by every Knicks fan. He knows he’s not capable of being The Guy on a title team. He knows that his best role going forward is as the team father figure/older brother/wily vet. He understands the influence he can have on these younger guys both from a basketball and a real life standpoint. I think he’s finally found a role he’s comfortable in. I think he’s come to terms with who he is as a basketball player.
And in a sense, I think that frees him from so much of the pressure he’s always had to deal with.
This… this is not the move of someone concerned with the petty shit… with the public image… with the pressure.
Melo is comfortable. Literally and figuratively. I mean the motherfucker is walking to a bodega in a goddamn robe. Not in a publicity stunt type of way. Not in a “I’m JR Smith and this is what I do” type of way. It’s just comfort. He’s happy with his gold medals. He’s happy with his role on this Knicks team. He’s happy with his place as the socially conscious athlete. He’s in a good place. And I’m happy watching him become this guy.
This comfort, this happiness, this understanding of what kind of player and person he is… this is what you want from a dude responsible for leading the team. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a delusional idiot Knicks fan trying to justify my irrational optimism (it is)… but everything about Melo these last few months makes me feel really good about where this team is headed.
By the way Melo scoop me an dutch and an Arizona.