In sports, we often rank the elite by the number of championships they have won, and, as such, NBA star Carmelo Anthony is the subject of these debates. Is Carmelo a top-5 active player? Is he the best pure scorer we have ever seen? These questions asked by many are valid and deserve answers. But the most important question is does Melo’ need to win a title to validate his legacy as one of the NBA’s elites? Many say yes, but I would say that he does not. While it would enhance his legacy, he is still a great individual talent. You may omit him from your top 10 NBA players like Lebron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and others. But Melo’ is an all time elite talent nonetheless.
This begs an even larger question that we debate in sports today: is it fair to only judge athletes by how many titles they have won? NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who never won a super bowl, is still widely considered to be a top 5 all time quarterback. Why? Because he performed at an elite level year after year, and although he didn't have a title to show for it, there is something to be said for weekly, regular season dominance over your opponents. Why should players who’ve never won anything be penalized for playing on a lesser team than other greats? While it seems unjust to harp on the negatives of a great player who never won, that is what we sports aficionados often do. We are all guilty of trying to place players in a category based on titles achieved. We do this because society at large is results driven. We don’t care how someone does it, we just want results. There is even debate today as to whether Eli or Peyton Manning has had the better career, noting that Eli has two rings while Peyton has one. The problem with these arguments is that they are absolute, neglecting the whole picture. If we review both Eli and Peyton’s entire body of work, as great as Eli has performed, the better resume belongs to Peyton.
Now, back to Carmelo Anthony, who happens to play in Gotham City. New Yorkers want to win, and anything short of a title is unacceptable. Carmelo is judged solely off of his wins and losses, rather than his whole body of work. He has scored over 20,000 points in his career, and has averaged nearly 25 points per game over his career spanning 13 seasons. Title or no title, these numbers put up by Melo’ place him in a rarified class. Carmelo Anthony is an example of someone who we need to start judging by what he has contributed to the game of basketball, and not just by how many rings he has on his finger. We need to understand that winning is very hard, and very few have won actual championships. Winning is a large part of the equation, but it is not everything. Carmelo Anthony is a once in a generation scorer, and to question his entire legacy because, to date, he has not won the brass ring, would not do justice to a remarkable basketball player.