Carmelo Anthony‘s individual talents are no secret. The NBA’s leading scorer this season has made six All-Star Games and five All-NBA teams, but entering this postseason Anthony has made it out of the first round of the playoffs only once in his 10-year career. The lack of team success has left him open to criticism that one of the game’s great individual players is missing that extra something that turns great players into champions.
Earl Monroe understands Anthony’s position better than anyone. Monroe was known for his individual exploits on the playground, in college and in the NBA before he came to New York from the Baltimore Bullets in 1972. The midseason trade added flair to a workmanlike Knicks squad that had won the title two years earlier, and some observers wondered how Monroe would fit in with Walt Frazier. After falling short in the 1972 Finals, the Knicks came back the next season and won their second — and final, to date — NBA championship.
Monroe, who has watched Anthony closely, sees a different type of player from the one critics love to say will never win the big one.
“You know what type of talent he is, and to be able to see him not only exhibit that type of talent but also accept the fact that, if he’s going to be great, he’s got to also convince the guys around him that they’re great as well,” Monroe said. “I think he’s done a good job of that, because you want people to know that as much as they do for you, you’re doing for them as well.”
Monroe also praised coach Mike Woodson for instilling a new culture around the team, and the Knicks for filling their roster with veterans like Jason Kidd, 39; Kenyon Martin, 35; Kurt Thomas, 40; and the injured Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace, both 38.
“They acquired a lot of ‘young guys,'” joked Monroe, 68. “I figured the next run of old folks had to be me.”
Check out NESN.com’s full conversation with Monroe, which will be posted later on Monday.