Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Walks

The Carmelo Anthony introduction last night in the Garden tells you everything you need to know about what is wrong with the NBA in general and the Knicks in particular.

Did you see it? They dimmed the lights, brought out the smoke machines, and the new saviour, St. Melo of Red Hook appeared, making his way from the tunnel to the court.  From the tunnel?  Hold on now.  Walking from the tunnel-that's what Willis did.  It is the greatest moment in Knick history, and should be untouched by anybody, especially the Knicks.

But let's compare the two walks from the tunnel.  With Melo, it was all about the glorification of self. More choreographed than a Broadway Show. Look at Melo. Celebrate Melo. All hail Melo.

Willis Reed's walk from the tunnel could not be more different, which makes it all the more remarkable that it happened in the same building.

First, there was nothing planned about what Willis did.  No one knew he would come out.  There was no announcement. It wasn't about self-glory.  It was game seven.  For all the marbles.  And moments before, he was injected with a needle that would have knocked out a rhino. And the job he had was an impossible one: to guard the greatest physical specimen in the world: Wilt Chamberlain.

And it resonated then, and even more so now.

Willis put it all on the line, in an act of physical courage and bravery. There was no public address announcer shouting his arrival.  No smoke.  No mirrors.  Just a hobbled man limping his way onto the hardwood.

With St. Melo, what was his walk from the tunnel about?  It was about hero worship.  It was about him and the glorification of fame.

Willis's walk was for the team and the city.  Melo's walk was for Melo.

And that tells you all that is wrong with the NBA.

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