Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has a habit of creating headlines that are not all that flattering, to himself or to the people that he’s commenting on, which is why it wasn’t much of a surprise that a quote he gave to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard has been making the rounds this week.
The quote in question?
“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of his former star and now three-time Olympic champion Carmelo Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”
That sounds bad, doesn’t it?
But … I mean, he’s right, isn’t he?
Melo is 32 years old and title-less. He’s been to the conference finals once and gotten out of the first round of the playoffs just twice, and now he’s on the downside of his career. Athletes don’t get better as they exit their early 30s unless they’re taking whatever it was that turned Barry Bonds into a cyborg. Adding the remnants of Derrick Rose and a 31 year old Joakim Noah is helpful, but unless those contracts can teleport the Knicks back to 2011, Rose will be the only person calling this group a Super Team.
So yeah, Boeheim is right. You probably think so, too. Melo is probably never going to win an NBA title unless he finds a way to get to the Cavs.
But here’s the thing: focusing on that one line totally ignores the point that Boeheim was making in the interview. As always, context is critical, and if you read the story that Waters wrote, it’s pretty obvious the message that Boeheim was trying to get across. Melo is not going to leave a legacy in the NBA beyond being a guy that got a lot of buckets. It just didn’t work out for him that way. Ask Karl Malone how that feels.
But by going to Rio for the 2016 Olympics, by becoming the first men’s basketball player to win three Olympic gold medals, Melo did solidify himself a legacy.
He’s the most accomplished and, arguably, the best player that Team USA has ever had. That’s not going to make up for the rings that are missing on his fingers, but it does cement his place in the history of the game.
That was Boeheim’s point, and it was a salient, intelligent point, one that complimented Melo for the success that he had in international play.
But if you scroll through your favorite blogs and see that headline, it looks like he was taking a shot at the player that brought him his only national title.
And given how twisted that quote has gotten, is it any wonder why athletes and coaches hate the media?
UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): Boeheim has weighed in: