By Michael T. Lyle, Jr.
In the spring of 1985, the New York Knicks made one of the biggest acquisitions in franchise history when they selected Patrick Ewing out of Georgetown with the top overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Ewing had just completed a memorable time with the Hoyas, including an NCAA National Championship a year earlier. Once he arrived in New York, Ewing quickly established himself as one of the best centers in the league. He put up some impressive offensive numbers during his first full season in 1986, good enough to earn him “Rookie of the Year” honors.
Fourteen years later, and Patrick Ewing is considered one of the greatest to don the Orange and Blue. Not only did he revitalize the franchise through his all-around play, he also led New York to a pair of Eastern Conference titles in 1994 and 1999. Additionally, he was voted an NBA All-Star eleven times, was a member of the original “Dream Team” at the 1992 Olympic Games, and was also bestowed the honor of being named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
Fast forward to this season, and the Knicks seem to have found a modern-age Ewing in the form of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.
Like Patrick, Anthony entered the professional ranks fresh off of leading Syracuse to an NCAA title. He flourished as a prolific scorer while playing for seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets, who drafted him with the third overall pick in 2003.
After a blockbuster trade brought ‘Melo to the Big Apple in 2011, he relished the opportunity to lead the Knicks back to contention in the NBA. Since his arrival, the Knicks have qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons, and this season have placed themselves in the category of “championship contender” thanks to his all-around play. Despite sitting out for five games due to injury, the five-time All-Star and two-time Olympic Gold medalist currently leads the team in scoring (28.9 PPG) and is second in the entire league, behind only Kobe Bryant.
Anthony is the catalyst for the Knicks’ surprising start that has them in the thick of the Eastern Conference race and in sole possession of first-place in the Atlantic Division standings. New York is also near the top of the league with a 14-5 home record. Even his college coach, Hall-of-Famer Jim Boeheim, marveled at his former pupil’s play during a recent radio appearance.
Just as Ewing did in the 90′s, Anthony is proving to be the glue that will hold this Knicks team together as they continue their push to prominence. With a strong supporting cast consiting of Amar’e Stoudemire and shortly, Iman Shumpert, the possibilities are endless.
Of course, as it did with Ewing, the Knicks success will ultimately start and ends with ‘Melo leading the way.