Anthony’s city, and after all the playoff futility he has endured, if this isn’t Carmelo Anthony’s time, it never will be.
He’s the one on the billboards, he’s the one who dreamed of playing Broadway, he’s the one who must now be Reggie Jackson in October and Eli Manning in February and Mark Messier in June.
So here comes Anthony roaring into the playoffs tomorrow at the Garden playing the best basketball of his life, except the proud, old Celtics won’t care much that he led the league in scoring. If it won’t be Doc Rivers doing everything in his power to take Melo out of the game and make others beat him, it will be Kevin Garnett doing everything in his power to get in Anthony’s head and make it snap, crackle, pop once again.
Kenyon Martin says Melo need not worry.
“I got it,” Martin told The Post yesterday.
In what way?
“It won’t happen, man, ’cause he ain’t gotta do all that bangin’ and all that with KG no more,” K-Mart said.
“Cause I’m here,” he said.
Martin was not a Knick when Garnett said whatever cereal trash-talkers say that got Anthony crazy.
“A lot of the stuff he’s sayin’, he does, is to motivate himself,” K-Mart said. “I don’t believe in it. It’s all fluff to me.”
But if he starts flapping his gums at Melo?
“I’ll intervene,” Martin said. “Bottom line.”
This is the best possible news for Anthony, who needs to have all his energies focused on carrying his team and his city to heights neither has reached in what feels like an eternity. He has managed one playoff win as a Knick, in nine games, the only Knicks playoff win in 12 years, and there are no more excuses for him.
He is in his prime, he is in championship shape. He has players around him he trusts now, he has a coach he likes and respects now, he has a championship-starved fan base that longs for him to be Clyde Frazier in Game 7 against Wilt’s Lakers every take-no-prisoners night, for him to wear Bernard King’s game face every refuse-to-lose night, for him to mimic Patrick Ewing’s commitment to excellence every warrior night.
“I feel great,” Anthony said. “My body feels great. We feel great.
“We’re ready to rock.”
“We have a shot to do something special.”
Martin played with Anthony in Denver from 2004-11
“He’s always had that scorer’s mentality,” K-Mart said, “but he has that assassin mentality now, where he’s going after everybody, and for all the right reasons. He’s trying to win it. He’s got a scoring title under his belt. ... He wants to win a championship, you can tell. I see the focus in him every day. He’s taking the challenge defensively each and every night no matter who he’s guarding.”
Mike Woodson has repeatedly reminded the Knicks that whining to the referees is counterproductive.
“The refs, we know that we can’t think about them,” Anthony said.
Patrick Ewing never could get past Michael Jordan without a sidekick, and it may very well be asking too much of Melo to get past LeBron James and that crew without one. It isn’t asking too much of Anthony to at least get to LeBron and the Heat, to make this a long, hot spring that would sear his legacy forever in the hearts of orange-and-blue New York and leave the banners up in the rafters nodding their approval.
“He’s taken on the pressure of the city itself, he’s taken on the leadership role, he’s taken on the scoring role,” Bernard King said yesterday on ESPN Radio, “and he’s ready for these playoffs.”
Anthony has failed to get out of the first round eight times in nine years, is 17-37 in the playoffs. Does it bother him?
“No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. Each year is a new year. I get to start all over each year,” he said.
He starts all over with a Garden that wants so much to embrace him, to forgive him for not being LeBron.
“The good thing about that is we’re here on our home court and we have a chance to protect it,” Anthony said.
Much easier to protect your home court when you know that K-Mart’s got your back.