SYRACUSE — Fans of all ages occupied the large span of the Carrier Dome, decorated in either blue Knicks jerseys proudly exhibiting Carmelo Anthony’s No. 7 or the bright orange No. 15 he wore during his brief time at Syracuse.
The Knicks were set to take on the Sixers in preseason matchup; marking the third time Anthony had played in Syracuse since winning a national championship back in 2003, and the first since joining the Knicks. However, much to the dismay of the fans in attendance, the Sixers gained the upper hand, beating the Knicks 90-98, and extending an impressive 6-1 preseason win-loss record.
Game notes: Melo finished the night with 23 points, but didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the field — converting just 7-of-32 field goal attempts.
BACK TO THE ORANGE:
During his first and only season at Syracuse University (2002-03), Anthony quickly established himself as top-notch prospect heading into the highly anticipated, star-studded 2003 NBA Draft – averaging a double-double (22 points and 10 rebounds). Anthony led the Orangemen to their first ever NCAA tournament title in 2003 — leading the team in scoring, rebounding, minutes played, field goals made and free throws made and attempted. Anthony’s 33-point outburst against the University of Texas in the Final Four set an NCAA tournament record for most points by a freshman. Extending his already impressive college hoops resume, Anthony continued to shine where it mattered the most: the championship game against the University of Kansas — scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, as well as a national championship. For his efforts during the NCAA tournament, Anthony earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award.
Melo originally planned on staying at Syracuse for two or three seasons, but abandoned his collegiate career after accomplishing everything he set out to do in just his first year. In a postgame interview following the championship game against Kansas, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim described Anthony as: “…by far, the best player in college basketball.” Boeheim added, “It wasn’t even close. Nobody was even close to him last year in college basketball. That’s the bottom line”. Boeheim’s words not only encouraged Melo to make the jump to the big league, but also prompted fans into crediting that Anthony was, perhaps, a big fish in a smaller pond, and set for bigger things.
Check out Melo’s time at Syracuse:
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MELO?
Since his days at Syracuse, Carmelo Anthony has established himself as a household name, as well as an elite scoring talent and clutch-time performer in the NBA. Along with names such as Dwight Howard, Carmelo is now high on the list of star players who are under the most pressure to win an NBA championship — since LeBron finally grabbed his long-awaited ring last season. Perhaps consistent team success – particularly in the playoffs – and helping re-establish the Knicks as a top-contender in the East, would help improve Melo’s chances of winning a ring some time in the future; matching a growing NBA legacy to his unprecedented college accolades. Until then, we can all continue to grumble about his stats on NBA 2K being too high and enjoy the occasional scoring outburst and clutch performance.