“Carmelo, I think, wanted to be a leader, but I don’t think he completely knew how to be a leader as a player.” That’s how Phil Jackson explained one of the reasons for his failed tenure as the President of Basketball Operations with the New York Knicks. Iman Shumpert disagrees.
It’s not like Shumpert thought Carmelo was doing a great job. By his own admission, Iman called Carmelo out several times about his leadership. The catch is, Shumpert thought Melo was too selfless, taking the blame for everything that was going on.
“Melo was one of those guys that I’ve never felt so safe [with]. As the games went on, I started realizing this dude will really take the blame for everything.”Iman Shumpert, The Jump
Shumpert said there were times when Melo would take the blame for situations other people were responsible for. He would go after Melo and challenge him not to do it. Not only because it wasn’t fair, but the truth could get people to make amends by playing harder.
“There were times where I was like, ‘Why don’t you just say what happened? Why are you taking the bullets? Maybe they’ll play harder, what are you talking about bro? You just gave me everything you got tonight.‘ He knows imma be fair; I got a lot of mouth. Imma’ say what I gotta say.”Iman Shumpert, The Jump
A lot of the challenges Carmelo went through in his career were self-inflicted, particularly the trades he requested and the contracts he signed. While LeBron pulled one great move after the other, understanding the GM/cap game, Melo did the opposite. But you can never take away Melo’s respect for the game and his teammates. His answer to Shumpert proves that.
He would just [say] ‘That’s not on me to do that to that man.‘ He always thought about ‘Am I taking food out of somebody’s mouth by saying that? I know I can take everything, harbor it, and I can make stuff happen.‘Iman Shumpert, The Jump
The way he came to New York, asking the trade from Denver that significantly depleted the Knicks‘ ability to put a team around him, made Melo carry that extra weight on his shoulders. Anthony wanted New York, he got it, and it was against his DNA to then complain about the organization.
Shumpert admitted he would constantly tell Melo he needs to win a ring to be appreciated, and Anthony would always shoot that kind of thinking down. All Melo was focused on was working on his game, doing his best, and protecting his teammates. Did he want a ring? Of course. But Anthony realized he couldn’t live his life thinking about himself as a “ring/no ring” player.
There’s a lot more to basketball and life than that. Sounds like smart leadership to me.