Basketball

I just wanted to post this little bit here so A) I don't have to search for it when I want to find it, and B) because it makes me happy.

For those of you who don't know, Carmelo Anthony was a freshman at Syracuse U when I was a senior. He was there for one year and led the school to its first NCAA Championship ever. Obviously, at the time I was biased and I thought he actually could be better than LeBron, who was nothing more to me than a high school kid that hadn't proven anything to anyone. It was pretty clear early in Melo and LeBron's rookie year in the NBA that LeBron was without a doubt the better athlete and player. What I've posted below is the description of Carmelo from Bill Simmons' Page 2 article on the NBA MVP race. The fact that Carmelo is the best clutch shooter over the last 3 years is a big surprise to me, that's something you don't get from a boxscore. And I love the sentiment at the end about LeBron, Melo, and Wade. By the way, Melo was listed as #6 in Simmons' top 8 MVP candidates, Wade was #4, and LeBron was #2.

Carmelo Anthony
The best clutch scorer alive -- seven game-winners and a game-tying shot just since Jan. 1, as well as the best clutch numbers of anyone in basketball over the past three seasons (according to 82games.com) -- to the point that we should be using his full name like we do with every other famous assassin. If your life depended on somebody making a game-winning shot in the last 10 seconds, would you pick anyone BUT Melo? I sure wouldn't.

So there's that. He also carried a division-winning Nuggets team that dealt with numerous injuries and numbers problems, a significant trade in mid-February, a glaring lack of outside shooters, and Kenyon Martin gimping around like Ken Reeves on the Bulls. And it's not like he's in his prime; actually, he's only seven months older than LeBron. Maybe there have been some minor flaws here and there -- he takes some quarters off, doesn't rebound enough, acts out sometimes -- but nothing that can't be fixed down the road.

Here's the thing: I'm starting to wonder if LeBron-Wade-Carmelo could become the most important sports rivalry of this generation. Each is great in his own way, each brings something different and unique to the table, and each seems to feed off what's happening with the other two guys. For instance, the Wade-LeBron duel two Saturdays ago (LeBron finished with 47-12-10, Wade with a 44-8-9) wasn't just the most thrilling game of the season, it was a significant experience for anyone who truly gives a crap about this league. Here were two fantastic young players absolutely KILLING it, doing everything they could to win the game, bringing out the absolute best of one another, raising everyone to a higher place.

This was like Pacino and De Niro sharing a scene in "Heat," only if they made the movie together in 1974. This was like Pearl Jam and Nirvana saying in 1992, "Screw it, let's go play at the same tiny club in Seattle and see who the crowd enjoys more." This was like nothing that's ever happened before. I haven't stopped thinking about it for three straight weeks. Could this be where we're headed -- magical game after magical game, like those Celtics-Lakers games in the mid-'80s, only for 12-15 years? What's the ceiling here? Do we even have a ceiling? Ali had Frazier, Bird had Magic, Russell had Chamberlain. Is it possible that LeBron, Wade and Carmelo all have each other? And do you realize that these guys are a combined 66 years old?

Maybe I'm biased as an unabashed NBA junkie, but I truly believe that the collective emergence of LeBron, Wade and Melo could eventually become the most significant thing that ever happened to this league -- bigger than MJ, bigger than Bird and Magic, bigger than everything. I guess we'll see.