One to never shy away from sharing his opinion, Shaquille O’Neal spoke about what the New York Knicks have to do in order to do well in the playoffs, specifically, how to beat the NBA champion Miami Heat. The advice – take things personally, especially since New York has high expectations for the Knicks:
“I think when Carmelo plays against LeBron (James) and (Dwyane Wade), he should take it personally, like he’s always talked about last (among the three). When Amare plays against (Chris) Bosh, he should take it personally,” O’Neal said. “That’s what I always used to do. I played against guys, I used to take it personally that you’re not talking about me.
“They need to do that. In order to beat Miami, they’ve got to.”
O’Neal said Anthony and Stoudemire have played “OK” in their season and a half together in New York. The Knicks have a sub-.500 record in games in which Anthony and Stoudemire have started.
“They’ve done OK. But in New York, OK is not good enough,” O’Neal said. “In order to have a legitimate 1-2 punch, OK is not good enough.
Professional athletes motivate themselves in a various number of ways in order to find that fire to compete from game-to-game. What worked for Shaq during his playing days may not work for Anthony or Stoudemire, but if they haven’t taken things personally enough, maybe they should try to psych themselves up because as it is now, it’s just not working.
Despite what either of the two NBA stars may say, there has to be some tension between them because Melo is a straight-up ball-stopper on offense and pretty much works in the same space as STAT, and Stoudemire was in New York first! There has to be some, at the very least, minuscule hate going on for Carmelo Anthony taking his shine. How quickly did STAT City get swept under the rug. Would it be strange if Stoudemire took that personally and perform at a high level? Maybe.
However, Shaq is on to something about taking things personally. It’s a great motivator when you feel disrespected by your peers, especially in sports. Fans and the media can suck it when it comes to what goes down on the hardwood. Essentially, players are trying to show each other up and prove that they’re better than everyone on the court. My reservation in Melo and STAT turning things around is that both have shown to be sensitive in regards to their image. It’s only natural when you consider both are in the media capital of the world where every minute thing explodes to monstrous proportions. They have to play nice.
But, look at recent NBA champions and they either didn’t give an eff about what anyone else said (Boston Celtics), had a killer and finisher in one player (Los Angeles Lakers), were underdogs, but believed so hard, nothing was going to keep them down (Dallas Mavericks), or had an “us against the world” attitude (Miami Heat). They all took it personally with an “Oh yeah? Watch us do this” attitude.
The Knicks have a primadonna in Anthony who won’t or can’t pick up his squad and a Jan Brady-type in Stoudemire, who secretly hates the bigger attention grabber, but will go through the motions for the sake of family. While that’s nice, this is sports. Sports isn’t about being nice, it’s about winning.
Until someone actually gets in Carmelo Anthony’s face, unlike Jeremy Lin who was too humble to, and tells Melo that if he’s the alleged head of the team, he better lead the body past the first round of the NBA playoffs, something he’s only done once in his nine-year career. Is the pressure too much for Anthony? It’s looking like it and there’s only so much pressure a human being can take before exploding. But, maybe that’s what Melo and Stoudemire need – to explode, either against others, but maybe even against each other.