I KNEW LEBRON’S TROPHY BELONGED TO MELO

8/25/22

Jay C. Brandriet

Today, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are teammates.

One is in the discussion as the best to ever play. The other will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

AS THEY CAME INTO THE NBA

James entered the league, the most highly anticipated rookie of my lifetime.

Anthony had just led his school to an NCAA title as a freshman.

WHEN THEIR ROOKIE SEASONS WERE COMPLETE

It was early May 2004. I was doing a sports radio show with Spencer Checketts.

We were going over our choices for NBA regular season awards.

The only disagreement came over the Rookie of the Year.

Spence thought it should go to LeBron James.

I was leaning on some tie breakers that had me riding with Carmelo Anthony.

Dwyane Wade’s name was worth mention.

Though we both agreed it was a close race, our debate went on for an hour plus.

Checketts knows his pro basketball. Dude literally grew up in the NBA. I always saw him as closer to a scout than a broadcaster.

Spence made a strong case for King James.

A week later, they announced that LeBron had won.

The part that surprised me was, he kind of ran away with it.

WHY?

It had to be that all that hype now had some reality attached to it.

He was only the third rookie to ever average 20/5/5 (Robertson, Jordan).

We weren’t yet aware he was a better defender than Anthony.

In this hoop’s argument, I took the loss.

I still walked away with my gut saying, “Melo deserved it 4 percent more.” (Yes, my gut said that)

A LOOK AT THEIR BASIC BOX SCORES

C. ANTHONY

82 games, 21.0 PPG, (42.6% FG, 77.7% FT, 32.2% 3 PT)

6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 3.0 TO

L. JAMES

79 games, 20.9 PPG, (41.7% FG, 75.4% FT, 29.0% 3 PT)

5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 3.5 TO

It’s pretty even.

THE WINNING DIFFERENCE

The season before they both arrived, the Cavaliers and the Nuggets had identical records.

17-65.

In their first seasons, Carmelo’s Nuggets made the playoffs and won 8 more games than LeBron’s Cavs. Anthony was on a slightly better team, in a much tougher western conference,

Melo showed off the promise of his clutch skills.

Micro detail? Carmelo came out the more efficient winner in their two matchups.

THE AWARD ITSELF

I’m not trying to overrate the honor.

It goes to the best, first year performer.

It’s like a noteworthy, side award.

I’m trying to be lighthearted towards this entire topic.

EXAMPLES

As a Jordan guy, I rarely bring up his legendary rookie efforts.

Being a Mitch Richmond fan, it sucks his Rookie of the Year award comes up so quickly on his resume.

I love Pau Gasol and forgot he’d won the thing.

Larry Bird supporters only bring up the trophy, because he kept it from Magic.

WHY THIS EVEN CAME UP?

My buddy Tony Abbott will occasionally send me clips I’ll find informative or entertaining. This particular video brought back this memory, and something I didn’t catch a couple decades back.

2003-04 ROOKIE OF THE MONTH

November: Carmelo Anthony

December: Carmelo Anthony

January: Carmelo Anthony

February: Carmelo Anthony

March: Carmelo Anthony

April: Carmelo Anthony

The “Rookie of the Month” isn’t overly relevant.

UNLESS YOU ARE USING IT TO HELP DETERMINE THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.

If it was Carmelo winning four of the six months?

I wouldn’t bring it up.

Anthony is the only player to sweep the monthly award to NOT take the main prize.

I knew LeBron’s trophy belonged to Melo.

Jay C. Brandriet

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