Tell me who you loyal to
Is it money? Is it fame? Is it weed? Is it drink?
Is it comin' down with the loud pipes and the rain?
Big chillin', only for the power in your name
Tell me who you loyal to
Is it love for the streets when the lights get dark?
Is it unconditional when the 'Rari don't start?
Tell me when your loyalty is comin' from the heart
Kendrick Lamar, "Loyalty"
If you ever needed a reminder that words like deserve and loyalty are overused and overrated, the life and times of Carmelo Anthony can serve as Exhibit A.
For all the narrative about superstars wanting to leave for greener pastures, let it be forever stated that Carmelo has been dedicated to trying to make it work with the New York Knicks. In fact, the case could be made every young superstar in and out of sports could learn from the case study of Melo. Why? Because while the game of Carmelo has aged gracefully and still has some grapes to ferment on the vine, everything around him has proven to be dysfunctional.
His coaches. His teammates. His general manager. His president of basketball operations. His team owner. All buffoons.
You might call him selfish. I'd hear your argument. How he forced himself to NYC wasn't the best move, and being an all-time great scorer means you might have supreme belief in self. But did you know that Melo has a higher assist rate than great scorers like DeMar Derozan and Dirk Nowitzki? Also, can you think of any compelling reasons as to who should be taking all those shots Melo takes? (I'm looking at you, Brandon Jennings, Lance Thomas and Ron Baker)
More importantly, Carmelo has told us repeatedly that regardless of all of the dysfunction that reins supreme within that organization that HE STILL WANTS TO BE THERE. A quasi-New Yorker who has embedded his entire life to thrive as the face of New York was failed repeatedly by the crumbling pillars of a support system with no calk, spackle or gorilla glue to be found. New Yorkers should be championing this man for standing tall and proud for something that he believes in, even though no one else can understand how he could ever do such a thing.
The lesson here is twofold. One. Always surround yourself with the best people you can afford to. Two. Don't fall in love with someone else's story. Carmelo Anthony fell victim to what we all could imagine would be someone's ultimate dream. To be the Derek Jeter or Joe Namath of basketball in that city? In this time? My lord, what a time to be alive indeed.
Carmelo wears the #7 for the Knicks, and for seven years he's worn proverbial blinders to a reality he willingly ignored. Now, with his basketball mortality and his personal realities staring him in the face, his willingness to be malleable has finally come. Could that mean landing in Houston? Could that mean settling his differences with his wife? Could that mean that no one matters in this equation more than the person looking at himself in the mirror every day.
Carmelo Anthony deserves better, and it's time for #7 to be loyal to himself. Now and forever more.
Related: Carmelo Anthony Takes His Talents To Puerto Rico For Knicks Mini-Camp, La Perla And Hennessy
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”