Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are considered two of the best players in the NBA. To call Kobe Bryant a great player is an understatement actually, as he may be the best player of the last 10-15 years. As a player like LeBron James dominates the NBA of today, Kobe Bryant was the dominant force of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Carmelo Anthony came up alongside LeBron James, but took a bit of a different route to the NBA. Unlike LeBron, who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of high school, Carmelo Anthony took a one year sabbatical from his future NBA career to win a National Championship with Syracuse. Due to this one year run, both were in the same 2003 NBA Draft class. Imagine what the Detroit Pistons could have been had they selected Melo instead of Darko Milicic… but I digress. But before I continue with Melo and Kobe, that 2003 NBA Draft Class, the first, fourth and fifth players selected are currently teammates and dominating the league.
Kobe Bryant has played this season like he’s stepped out of a time machine from six or seven years, driving to the basket and taking it to the hole. It seemed like that Kobe was long gone, but some of the moves he’s made this season leads me to believe he can finish his career strong. After a stumble on the outstretched leg of Dahntay Jones, Kobe Bryant suffered a sprained ankle that will hobble him for days. It was clear that he should sit out with that ankle and let it heel, but the warrior Kobe is, he laced up his kicks and gave it a go in the next game. After a scoreless first half, he called it a game… a game his team won!
Carmelo Anthony is clearly the best player on the New York Knick, and some intimate that he’s the puppet master pulling the string behind the scenes within the organization (you know who you are). Complaining of a bad knee, Melo has pulled himself out of two games recently to the surprise of teammates and his coach. The Knicks were unable to pull off a victory in his last surprising exit in Denver, but one thing is clear when Melo isn’t on the floor… the ball moves. Some say Melo’s style, and Coach Mike Woodson’s limited offensive play calling, hinders the team that seems to play a different style of ball when Melo isn’t the number one option. Melo did end up getting his knee drained, and will sit out games to rest it up. Some will say that he didn’t show the toughness Kobe did trying to gut it out on a bum ankle. The way Melo exited, just walking off, will give detractors some ammo against him. He knows his body, and if he couldn’t go, then he couldn’t go.
I can’t tell you which was smarter or which was tougher, but if Melo prevented himself from further damaging his knee because he knew he couldn’t go, then it was the smart thing. If Kobe did further damage to his ankle by going out there and trying to push it when he knew he was hurt, then how smart is that? What if Kobe injures another part of his body because he’s compensating for that injury? Was Kobe gutsy or selfish? Some wouldn’t have tried what Kobe did because of how it damages a player’s stats per game. Don’t fool yourself, players do think about that. Who was tougher, Melo for pulling himself out or Kobe for trying to play… how they play when they return will answer that question.
-Joseph Haas Editor, HCoftheNYJ.com