Superstar Carmelo Anthony Joins N.Y. Knicks

The New York Knicks start the second half of the NBA season with a burst of excitement. The team finally got its man. Superstar Carmelo Anthony is joining the Knicks after being traded from the Denver Nuggets.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

What a difference a trade makes. Tonight, the New York Knicks start the second half of the NBA season with a burst of excitement. The team finally got its man. Superstar Carmelo Anthony is joining the Knicks after being traded from the Denver Nuggets.

NPR's Tom Goldman is with us to talk about that.

Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Lots of talk about this trade for weeks. It's been called the Melo-drama.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: I guess the melodrama of Carmelo Anthony. Now that it is done, where does it leave the Knicks and the Nuggets?

GOLDMAN: Well, the Knicks now have two very potent offensive players. Carmelo Anthony joins All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire, who came to New York at the beginning of this season. Plus, Denver also sent Chauncey Billups as part of the trade. He's a great point guard. He's the guy who'll be responsible for getting the ball to Anthony and Stoudemire, keeping both of them happy. So on paper, it makes New York relevant in the Eastern Conference.

Now, Denver, many are predicting a drop-off and no playoffs for the Nuggets this year. But sometimes one guy who's a scoring machine isn't always a good thing. He can inhibit the rest of the team. And sure enough, Renee, last night, Denver won its first game without Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets beat Memphis. With a team effort, they spread the scoring around. And their coach, George Karl, said: I think there was an enjoyment to the game that we haven't had in a while.

MONTAGNE: Well, Tom, let's take the most popular NBA teams: L.A., of course Boston, Miami, now New York. Each has its big-name players. But is that actually good for the NBA?

GOLDMAN: Some say no. I mean, the game now, as you say, is about collecting megastars. And teams doing that - there's six to eight of those teams - they should be battling it out in some great matchups in the latter stages of the playoffs. But that's potentially shutting a lot of teams and cities out of the party.

Since 2000, there've been five different teams that have won an NBA title. In Major League Baseball and the NFL, there've been nine different champions. So those leagues tout their parity and the excitement that any team can win a championship, not so much with the NBA.

MONTAGNE: And all this back-and-forth about this trade and, of course, no one can forget LeBron James' move to Miami...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: ...the endless drama of that. Is it getting to be about that, though, about the story at the NBA, as much as the basketball?

GOLDMAN: About the melodrama, as you say. Yeah, it certainly seems that way. LeBron's decision, as you mentioned, was a fiasco. Carmelo's saga was a little bit better, because he gave his team fair warning. He wanted out, and they knew that. But it did drag on for so long, the story was covered exhaustively by the sports media, that it took attention away from basketball. And, you know, it left many Denver fans with ambivalent and even hostile feelings toward this player, who was playing hard for their team, but they knew he didn't want to be there.

MONTAGNE: Mm. But this soap opera, does it bother the NBA? Say, the owners, as well?

GOLDMAN: Well, it bothers NBA Commissioner David Stern. That's for sure. And, you know, how Stern goes, goes the NBA. So he was asked about this at the All-Star Game last weekend, and he said it had become a negative for the NBA. And he's already worried about: Who's the next star who's going to become the object of interest? Where will he go, and how long will that last?

Stern said he had some great ideas about how to maybe change these kinds of situations, but he wouldn't reveal what those ideas were. And for sure, any kind of move to curtail free agency by the NBA, by the owners - perhaps in collective bargaining talks - that won't be met kindly by the union.

MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

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