Carmelo Anthony just got traded to the Knicks. They give up four of their best five players to get him, and get Anthony and Chauncey Billups to add to Amar’e Stoudemire.
At the start of the season I was super-excited to watch the Heat play after they got LeBron, but the results haven’t been that pleasing to the eye: the Heat are fun to watch on the break because LeBron and Wade are both so athletic and supremely confident, but in the half-court they don’t look different from any other team. LeBron and Wade just take turns going one-on-one. When one has the ball the other guy becomes just another guy.
There’ve been plenty of superstar combos in the NBA. Just to name a few: Chamberlain-West, Magic-Kareem, Bird-McHale. Granted, a lot of those have been a post-up player and a perimeter guy, but there’ve been perimeter combos too: Jordan-Pippen, Thomas-Dumars, Worthy-Magic, Cousy-Havlicek.
This is probably irrational, but I’m gonna blame Michael Jordan for making a combination as mouth-watering as Wade-LeBron boring to watch. Jordan is the model for what Bill Simmons calls the Alpha-dog player. They demand the ball, everything goes through them, and the simple fact that they are the best player on the court causes their team to win. The model for winning before Jordan were the ’60s Celtics, whose best player, Bill Russell, only averaged like 15 points a game. But ever since Jordan I think we take it as a given that the team with the best guy is gonna win, because he will take over the game in the final minutes.
That kind of role is kind of forced upon players like LeBron or Wade. They’re so good I don’t think they’ve ever even briefly played like they were the complementary piece. A lot of people thought LeBron might change his game and let Wade be the primary initiator, but that hasn’t been the case. Like I said before, they just take turns.
But it’s still a huge advantage to have two super-duper-stars. When Wade’s off they don’t have to find another way to score–they can just give the ball to LeBron. The Heat still have a shot to win it. I think they’ll lose to the Celtics in the Conference Finals, but I don’t count them out entirely.
Anthony and Stoudemire–I’m not sure how that’s gonna work out. Neither of them does much of anything besides score in bucketfuls. But I hope it’ll be fun to watch.