Reminiscing on the former New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony era is bittersweet. There were plenty of highs but also plenty, plenty of lows. The Knicks only made one playoff appearance during the Melo Era, but he did bring great joy and excitement to the Garden that went missing after the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Anthony brought excitement with his two biggest shots in the same game 6 years ago.
Easter. 2012. Knicks vs. Bulls at the sold-out Garden. Not so much a rivalry like it was during the Ewing, Jordan era, but the players, and especially the fans, still got up for these games. The Bulls were atop of the Eastern Conference being led by reigning MVP Derrick Rose. The Knicks were fighting for the 8th spot in the playoffs and slipping. Not ideal. Since the Knicks were unsure of their playoffs hopes, unlike the Bulls, this game was treated as if it was Game 7 of the Eastern Finals.
The Knicks playing for a playoff spot, played the Bulls tight the entire game. Anthony and Rose would be exchange baskets pretty much all game until the 4th quarter came. It was Melo’s time to takeover. The crowd was locked into this game along with the nationally televised audience.
The Bulls had a 3 point lead, 91-88, with Derrick Rose at the free throw line. Rose misses the backend of his 2 free throws and J.R. Smith pulls down the board, quickly looking for, who else, Melo. Melo gets the ball with 17.5 seconds left in the 4th quarter and begins up the floor. The Garden is already on their feet. Everyone in the county knows the ball is going up. However, we didn’t think it be that quick. With Taj Gibson trying to check Melo, he takes two dribbles past mid court and launches a 3 from the right side of the court, a little farther from the foul line extended.
First, when Melo chucks 3’s like he did in this situation, it just looks awkward and doesn’t look like it should drop. However, this had a differrent feel to it. With the ball being launched into the air every fan who wasn’t already on their feet stood up. With Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen calling the game brought extra excitement to the shot as Melo crossed halfcourt…
Mike Breen – “Should the Bulls foul?”
Jeff Van Gundy – “No.”
Mike Breen – “Anthony for three…BANG!”
What a call! Hilarious commentary and fantastic shot, right in the grill of Gibson. Melo and Garden went wild. It truly felt like a playoff game. Melo forces overtime, capping off a 10-0 Knicks run to end the game. Fast forward. The Bulls control the overtime, again take the lead and the Knicks are again playing from behind. Seventeen seconds left, Knicks with the ball and Coach Mike Woodson lets them play. Thank god, because we can’t stand timeouts in big situations, ruins the flow of the game.
Melo with the ball at the top of the key. Now, Luol Deng is trying to check Melo. Melo has his players clear out and takes a slow dribble to basically the same exact spot from where he tied the game in the 4th quarter. Everyone knows it’s going up. This time, with Melo staring down Deng, puts up a much nicer looking shot, as compared to his game-tying 3, and the basket couldn’t have been bigger for Melo that day. Van Gundy and Breen on the call.
Breen – “Mike Woodson not calling timeout.”
Van Gundy – “I like that move.”
Breen – “In the hands of Anthony. Anthony for 3…PUTS IT IN! KNICKS BY 1 WITH 8.2 REMAINING!”
Again the Garden, Melo, literally everyone went nuts. What a time to be alive. I can still remember how exciting that game was. This was during the time when people thought Melo wasn’t clutch. This performance shut up all the haters.
It was Melo’s best performance as a Knick since coming over from Denver. His 43-point outburst helped the Knicks get the W and ultimately make the playoffs as the 7th seed, before getting bounced by the Heat in the first round. However, those two shots from Melo were the biggest and most exciting shots of his Knicks career. Seeing the Garden erupt like they did for those two shots is something that we all wish to see again soon.