Finally! After what seemed to be the longest-running trade drama in NBA history, the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony (oh, I mean the Denver Nuggets) agreed on a trade to send the Syracuse basketball alum back to New York state. The "is this a good or bad" trade for the Knicks is currently being debated, but for Syracuse basketball fans it's a day to celebrate.
Finally, SU has a home-grown star playing around or near their own NBA television market (Knicks games are mainly shown on MSG, a network that's in most Upstate New York homes). SU faithful are used to watching their stars leave home and travel far, far away to find themselves in the NBA: Last season, first-round pick Wes Johnson was taken fourth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2009, first-round pick Jonny Flynn was also chosen by Minnesota at No. 6. In 2008, one-and-done freshman, Donte' Greene, was the Memphis Grizzels' late first-round pick (28th overall) -- Greene was then traded twice before landing with the Sacramento Kings, where he has played the last two seasons). In 2005, forward Hakim Warrick went in the first round (19th overall) to Memphis. Warrick is currently playing with the Phoenix Suns.
In 2003, just months after Anthony helped lead the Orangemen to their first ever NCAA National Championship, No. 15 (now, No. 7) was picked third overall by Denver. Anthony spent seven seasons playing about 1,700 miles from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Only the real diehard 'Melo-NBA fans probably shelled out the cash to get the DirectTV NBA League Pass to watch their star on a night-to-night basis. Now, the basic Time Warner or Dish package will do!
(Note: I didn't forget about former guard Andy Rautins, who last season was the leader of a talented SU squad; and was drafted in the second-round (38th overall) by the Knicks last June. However, Rautins, who was an outstanding player at SU, wasn't a big-name draft pick. Also, Rautins has only played in four games for New York this season. It would be outstanding if Rautins morphs into a decent contributor for the Knicks, but its just not happening right now.)
For me, I am not a big NBA guy. I lost my interest in the league after Michael Jordan retired -- I had a minor relationship with Reggie Miller's Indiana Pacers, but that faded after the Ron Artest brawl. I get my basketball fix from watching college basketball, mainly living and breathing Syracuse hoops and following the rest of the Big East Conference. The history of former Syracuse players beginning their NBA careers so far from where I learned to root for them probably hampered my current interest in professional basketball.
This trade might help reboot my interest. The Knicks are a contending playoff team, Amar'e Stoudemire is easy to root for, so is head coach Mike D'Antoni and, well, now there's Carmelo -- a player my fandom can relate to. All-in-all, I think it's the perfect formula for me, and other non-NBA fans that like SU, to enjoy the NBA and the Knicks.
Welcome back to New York, 'Melo, the Syracuse faithful missed you.