Carmelo Anthony turns 29 next Wednesday, in case you want to send a card.
So he still is a young man by any definition and is not old even by the skewed standards of pro sports. That explains this answer when he was asked near midnight Saturday about not getting a much-coveted crack at the Heat in the NBA Eastern conference finals:
“It’s a disappointment, but my career is far from over, so I’m not really too concerned about that. I still have a lot more time in this league.”
Well, yes and no.
As Melo should know, and Knicks management surely does, windows of opportunity tend to close quickly for star athletes approaching the wrong side of 30, especially stars with planetary systems as dim as the Knicks’.
Quick, who is their second-best player? J.R. Smith?
Even under the best of circumstances, Smith is not at the level of most championship-level sidekicks, and as we observed this spring, he remains an unpredictable fellow both on and off the court.
Plus, he is likely to opt of out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. (He said Saturday he would prefer to remain and retire as a Knick, though.)
Anthony was correct when he said after Game 6 the Knicks “had a hell of a season,” and let’s give him a pass for adding “we’ll take that” regarding a season that did not even reach the third round.
Adding to the complicated narrative was the fact that after three brilliant quarters in Game 6, he was awful in the final one, missing his first five shots and committing three devastating turnovers.
Anthony emphasized during his postgame remarks, promising the Knicks “will be back better and stronger next season for sure.”
We shall see about that. Regardless, sometime during next year’s conference finals Anthony will turn 30, with 11 seasons of NBA mileage on him.
That does not mean he has to win it all by next spring. But it does mean he has to win it all soon — perhaps sooner than he can imagine in his final full week as a 28-year-old.
Happy Birthday, Melo. At least he will have the day free to celebrate. His trip to Miami that afternoon for Game 5 has been cancelled.