While the New York Knicks got to the second round of the playoffs last year (for the first time in 13 years), there was still a bitter taste of disappointment once the season ended. The Knicks were expected to at least battle the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. But alas, it was never meant to be, as the Indiana Pacers disposed of the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in six games. Nevertheless, Carmelo Anthony is not short on optimism and is pegging this year’s squad as being better than last year’s team.
Remember, this a Knicks squad that won 54 games last year, second most in the Eastern Conference. So what does Anthony expect for an encore?
“We were the top two seed last year,’’ Anthony said. “I think nobody expected that. This year we expect to do the same thing. I actually see this team be better than last year’s team. I won’t get into all the details [why]. But we feel that. We feel we have improved as a unit.”
Anthony does have a point.
On paper, the Knicks do appear to have a more talented roster this year with the additions of Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, and Beno Udrih along with the addition of first-round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr. and young free-agent signings C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler. But can they mesh together and be a better team than last year’s squad? Well, that remains to be seen.
The only thing hurting the Knicks from at least repeating as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference is the fact that Chicago, Indiana and Brooklyn all made major improvements and are primed to challenge the Heat.
Brooklyn, in particular, is a team that has stirred up a lot of emotion among Knicks’ players and Anthony is no different.
From Berman in regards to the growing rivalry with the Nets:
“I love it,” Anthony said. “I think it’s a great for sports. I think it’s great for us as a Knicks organization. To have somebody we can compete with on a consistent basis four times a year, I think it’s going to be the best rivalry in basketball for a long, long time.’’
With training camp set to start in a few weeks, Anthony knows his chance for capturing a title is closing. A fact he has already stated before. Anthony is all in for winning that elusive title.
“For me now, the only thing I need is a championship,’’ Anthony said. “I think I proved to everybody the type of basketball player I am. Everyone in the world knows I can score the basketball — to separate myself is a championship. I can count on one hand the amount of people that won a national championship in college, a gold medal and an NBA title. If I can do that, that kind of separates me from some others.’’
If Anthony can deliver on a title, his legacy will forever, indeed, change. And Knicks’ fans will be forever grateful if he can deliver said title to New York.
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