73° Good Evening
73° Good Evening
SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Madison Square Garden crowd is falling hard for Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony reacts after scoring a basket during

Carmelo Anthony reacts after scoring a basket during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. (Dec. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Carmelo Anthony has had many big nights as a Knick. But he had a significant New York moment Thursday night after his hard drive led to a hard foul and even harder fall.

The Garden first made a collective "oh, no" sound of concern. Then a hush came over the crowd. There might even have been some hands clasped together and prayers said. Finally, the fans tried lifting Anthony from the floor with a loud "M-V-P" chant.

Anthony is the most irreplaceable player on this team that has big goals and has its fans dreaming of a parade. He basically has been since his arrival. But a little less than a year ago, Anthony was booed in the same building in which he was revered the other night.

Last season, it was predetermined that Anthony's return from injury would spoil the good thing the Knicks had going with Jeremy Lin. Anthony was cast as the villain for putting an end to Linsanity. In fact, Anthony, for the most part, was blamed for all the Knicks' failings and shortcomings from the time he put on the uniform.

Another now-beloved Knick who happened to be there Thursday carried that burden for many years -- Patrick Ewing. He was shown on the big screen and received a standing ovation.

You win in the NBA with stars, and right now, Anthony is one of the brightest. And now he's being appreciated as such by Knicks fans.

Lin, who will make his Garden return tomorrow, was a tremendous story. It was the kind to tell your kids about following their dreams and never giving up.

Lin deserved all the attention he got. Here's hoping he continues being a beacon of hope for people. But the Knicks made the right move for them by not matching Houston's three-year, $25.1-million offer.

The Knicks were committed to trying to make it work with Lin, but it might not have. This win-now team and win-now coach needed more established point guards. Having Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd run the team has been a huge factor in the Knicks' and Anthony's success.

And believe this: If it didn't work with Lin, there would have been fingers pointed -- some at Anthony. There would have been tension. It would have been like last season.

Now Anthony is being anointed the MVP. It's very early, but it's better to be in that conversation than not. It means you're playing at a ridiculous level and so is your team.

Anthony has forged his way to that point by doing more than score. He's leading by hustling, defending, giving up shots to his teammates and trusting them more.

George Karl, his former coach with the Nuggets, always said Anthony needed to get to this point, and he is happy that he has.

"Absolutely," Karl said. "I've said I feel Melo is going to win a championship someday. He's going to figure out scoreboard numbers aren't important. It's the team scoreboard and intangibles in a game that make winners champions."

There's a long way to go, but Anthony seems to have gotten it. Some more significant New York moments could be on the way for the Knicks and their star.


He's a good Kidd

Kidd looks like the best acquisition the Knicks or any team made in the offseason.

His drive, leadership and basketball smarts have impacted the Knicks, as has the newest addition to his game.

Kidd was called "Ason'' early in his career because he didn't have a J. But he has developed a jump shot, and before last night's game, he was 39-for-74 from three-point range this season (52.7 percent). Kidd hit the game-winning three-pointer Tuesday in Brooklyn.

"I believe I can play at a high level and I can compete and help my teammates," Kidd said. "It doesn't always have to be about scoring. I have a lot to give to the game."

Tyson Chandler saw it firsthand with the 2010-11 Mavericks as he and Kidd won the NBA championship. Chandler was in Kidd's ear over the summer.

"I told him we got a good cast here," Chandler said. "This organization is willing to make moves, willing to chase the ring, willing to put the players in the right place.

"I talked to him a couple of times in the offseason and just told him, 'Look, I'm going to give you your space and let you make your own decision. But you're needed over here and we could have another opportunity for you to get your second one before you retire.' "


Rasheed Wallace feels love from fans

Rasheed Wallace hears loud "Sheeeeeds" in every building when he gets off the bench. He said he's a little surprised by it, especially after taking two years off.

"I'm glad to see that I still have a lot of fans left in this basketball world," Wallace said. "There's been a lot of people on the street, when I'm out in restaurants, or just off the basketball court, a lot of people say they're glad to see me back, I guess to see real basketball and you know, post play and this and that."

Wallace added, "When I was playing in my heyday, of course, I had those who hated me. You're supposed to hate the opposition. But it's good, though. It feels good."


NBA trade talks could heat up

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 21, but a key date just passed.

Most players signed in the offseason can be dealt as of Dec. 15. For some it's Jan. 15. Those are players who were Bird or Early Bird free agents who re-signed with their team and received a raise greater than 20 percent in the first season of the contract, such as the Knicks' Steve Novak and the Nets' Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

The Lakers, with their struggles, are a team that could be busy.

New York Sports