Jan. 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) gestures in front of New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Boston won 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony shows he has a long way to go as a leader

A lot happened in the 48 minutes on the court between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. A lot more happened between Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett after the game.

However in the span of all of that, we learned one thing- the fact that Carmelo Anthony still has a long ways to go in order to mature into a real leader.

Jan. 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett (5) have words on the court during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Boston won 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks’ fans want to believe a lot of things about this team and for the most part, Anthony and his teammates have given fans reason to believe with their play so far.

But most importantly, Knicks’ fans want to believe in ‘Melo.

They want to believe that he has matured from the me-first scorer that he was throughout the first nine years of his career. They want to believe that he has matured enough to lead them to a championship, despite only getting out of the first round of the playoffs once in his career.

So far, ‘Melo has done a lot to earn their trust.

He has put up ridiculous numbers and put himself into the MVP race by playing the unselfish type of basketball that everyone in the world said he was not capable of doing.

But he showed Monday night against the Boston Celtics that he still has a long ways to go in order to fully mature into that leader that Knicks fans don’t only want him to be- they need him to be.

Sure Anthony didn’t have his best night against their Atlantic Division foes. He scored 20 points, but he needed 26 shots to do so. He was in foul trouble for most of the game, but the one thing he did; that leaders do not do was allow Kevin Garnett to get under his skin.

I detailed the altercation that followed after the game in a previous article, but this is a look at Anthony and why he didn’t perform like a leader.

Once Anthony let Garnett affect him, it was back to hero-ball for Anthony as he forced more than one perimeter shot in a close game. Possessions the Knicks needed to get good looks at the basket. By the time he was done, Anthony has almost shot the Knicks out of the game and you can make the case that he did exactly that.

Leaders realize that every possession matters in tight games such as Monday night.

Then there was the fact that Anthony approached the Celtics locker room and waited for Garnett at the team bus.

Sure Anthony was pissed off and got caught up in the moment, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that his immaturity came out at the wrong time.

What he did was put himself ahead of his teammates as a suspension is now more than likely.

That type of behavior simply cannot come from the team’s undisputed leader.

The Knicks are an under .500 team since December 17 (5-6) and they need their leader on the floor, performing like one at both ends of the floor.

Monday night alone, puts some doubt in Anthony as a real leader, which is a shame given the way that he has played so far this year.

But you can’t use caught up in the moment as an excuse as Anthony had plenty of time to cool down before approaching the Celtics bus.

That begs the question of if he can’t handle a tough game against a rival in January, how can he handle the pressure in May and June?

Anthony wilted under the pressure, which leaves some doubt about just how far he has really come. When the chips are on the table, will the old Anthony continue to come back?

Leaders let their play do the talking for them.

They don’t let the opposition get underneath their skin and most of all they don’t put their teammates in a position to fail.

The good news is that this was only one game and really the first time we have seen ‘Melo’s immaturity come out this season.

Maybe this incident will be a wake-up call to ‘Melo and he will realize what he truly has to do to lead this team to a championship. If he doesn’t, those championship thoughts are only dreams.

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