When LeBron James finally captured his first NBA title, he had finally overcame all of the pressure that was heaped on him. If you remember, when the Heat found themselves down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, speculation was running rampant about the changes that would be made if the Big 3 failed to deliver a championship. We all know how it played out though as LeBron delivered one of the greatest performance I’ve ever seen in Game 6 with 45 points on the road in Boston, and ultimately went on to capture that coveted first ring.
So naturally, once LeBron finally won a title immense pressure had to be shifted to another player who had yet to prove himself. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has found himself making a first round exit in the playoffs 8 of his 9 seasons in the NBA. And while his Knicks are up 3-0 on the Boston Celtics, the call for Carmelo to make some real noise in the playoffs is louder than it has ever been in his career. But if you let Carmelo tell it, he isn’t even paying attention to the pressure.
Carmelo Anthony hasn’t shut off his phone or stopped tweeting the way LeBron James does in the playoffs. But Anthony has created his own way to lock in this season: He isn’t reading the papers or listening to sports talk radio at all.
That’s been his policy all season because too much negativity “crept in” the previous two years.
“I felt like I could just focus in on playing basketball and getting better and making my team better,” he said Saturday. “A lot of things throughout the course of a season are always said about this, about that. If you listen to it and you read it, the negativity could easily sink inside you.”
He led the league in scoring and the Knicks to their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years. They are one win from advancing to the second round for the first time in 13 years. It would be the second time Anthony has gotten out of the first round in his 10-year career.
“I told you from day one, I would not let any negativity in our locker room, around me, around as a unit. It’s been working,” he said. “This year was the first year where I really could focus on playing basketball and put everything else to the side.”
Whatever ‘Melo needs to do to help himself is fine by me. The only thing that will shut the critics up is true success in the playoffs. If he ever wants to have the criticism be quieted, now is the time to act like it on the court.