The journey has raised his profile over the past 16 months, providing Anthony with the notoriety of playing on basketball’s grandest stage, Madison Square Garden, and the publicity of noted guest appearances on some of his favorite television shows. But the move also made his shortcomings more pronounced, with his inability to elevate the Knicks and his continued postseason failures raising questions about his perceived status as an elite player.
“It’s been up and down, but for the most part, I don’t regret my decision to want to come here,” Anthony said on Saturday, as the Knicks prepare for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat. “It’s been a year and a half and things haven’t gone the way we wanted to go, but we still have time. I’m not worried about that. I love my decision. I stick with my decision.”
Anthony grew up in Baltimore, but came to the city where he was born to be a hero. Thus far, his efforts have been hollow. The Knicks are one loss away from getting swept from the postseason for the second year in a row and extending a 13-game losing streak — dating from April 29, 2001 — that is the longest in playoff history.
Anthony has only been around for seven of those losses, but they have been enough to give him the worst winning percentage of any player to make at least 50 playoff appearances in the past 20 years (16-36, .308).
This series against the Heat — featuring two players he considers his peers in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — has been disastrous for Anthony. He is averaging 21 points, shooting just 34.4 percent (22 for 64), has 12 turnovers to just six assists, and the Knicks have been outscored by a total of 60 points in three defeats.
“Not winning at all. It hurts. I go home at night, I think about that,” said Anthony, who has lost 13 of his past 15 playoff games and is on the verge of being swept for the third time in the past five years. “We still believe we can win a game. If we don’t go out there with confidence [for Sunday’s Game 4], we might as well not go out there at all.”
Anthony has only advanced beyond the first round once in eight previous postseason trips, but in his defense, he also has had the benefit of home-court advantage in just two first-round series, as the best player on some so-so Nuggets teams. In New York, the Knicks have scrapped into the playoffs and Anthony has rarely had the benefit of playing with a full complement of talent.
When the Boston Celtics swept the Knicks last season, Anthony had to finish the series with Amare Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups out with injury. And this season, the team has been struck with several maladies — some fluky, some self-inflicted.
Tyson Chandler came down with the flu before Game 1. Iman Shumpert tore ligaments in his left knee in a 100-67 opening defeat that stands as the franchise’s worst playoff loss in 21 years. Baron Davis has been having back and hamstring problems. One-time sensation Jeremy Lin has been out since late March after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.