Carmelo Anthony made his debut with the New York Knicks on Wednesday, and a stunning debut it was. Madison Square Garden was rocking and rolling and shaking and baking once again. But with that game, Anthony instantly became the greatest Knick ever to wear jersey No. 7. His beloved No. 15 is hanging from the rafters, with Earl Monroe and Dick McGuire having the number retired in their honor. The new Knick superstar doesn't even have much competition in the greatest-to-wear-No.-7 sweepstakes. The runner-up would have to be Dean Meminger, who was Monroe and Walt Frazier's backup for four seasons (with a couple of years playing for Atlanta in between). Meminger was one of the fastest players during his time in the NBA and won a ring with the 1973 Knicks, but he was no Anthony. Kenny Walker and Gerald Henderson also sported No. 7. Al Harrington and Channing Frye were the most recent to wear the number. Stan Stutz, who was an original Knick, was the first to don a No. 7 jersey. And Gene Shue, Slater Martin, Whitey Martin, Doug Christie and J.R. Reid were others who slipped on a No. 7 shirt. So Anthony is already the king of No. 7. And oh yeah, there were some other games played this week, and not all of them by the Knicks. But the Player of the Week has to be:
Carmelo Anthony: Maybe he wasn't the best player performance-wise this week, but he had the biggest impact on New York sports, so he's the grand winner. Just his presence changes the landscape of the New York sports scene and, of course, the present and future of the Knicks. Anthony's debut on Wednesday was like the Oscars, Super Bowl and a Jay-Z concert all rolled into one. Sure, he shot a less-than-impressive 10 for 25 from the floor, but he made some key buckets down the stretch and led his new team to a victory. Game two on Friday was one big hangover, though, as the Knicks somehow lost to the historically bad Cleveland Cavaliers. With all the NBA superstars swapping teams and heading to the bright lights of bigger cities, maybe the city of Cleveland was owed a win like this, karma-wise. The Knicks struggled big-time defensively, and gelling together as a unit will take time. On top of that Anthony's been complaining of a sore elbow. But the huge, hype-filled win in Miami made up for the loss in Cleveland. Anthony led the way offensively with 29 points, as the Knicks' new Big Three outplayed Miami's version. Let's not forget about throw-in Chauncey Billups, who had a big impact in the two wins, including a huge three-pointer down the homestretch of Sunday night's victory. He is Mr. Big Shot, after all. And old Knick Amar'e Stoudemire (it seems like he's been here forever now) came up with the block of the year on LeBron James' shot in the waning seconds of the game. The swat was more than just a block, though, it was a statement that said, "Here come the Knicks--we're big, we're bad, we're bold and we're beautiful, baby, so watch out."
Runners Up & Other Notables
Deron Williams: The New Jersey Nets shocked the NBA by acquiring arguably the best point guard in the league. Williams' debut wasn't as spectacular and star-studded as Anthony's, but he was on the road, of course, and his team lost as well. He scored 14 points and dished out 12 assists. Like the Knicks, the Nets are suffering from chemistry issues and defensive problems fueled by communication breakdowns. And like Anthony, Williams comes to town with a lingering injury, but that didn't stop him from doling out a season-high 17 assists in Saturday's loss, to go along with 15 points. The Nets will now have a pair of Mr. Double/Doubles, as Williams will most likely join Kris Humphries in that achievement on most nights. Williams' stock in trade is making everyone around him better, and, let's face it, the Nets could use all the help they can get in that category. Will he stick around after next season? Who knows, but let's enjoy him while he's here.
Erik Christensen: On Friday night in Washington, the New York Rangers played their most complete game in ages, with an impressive 6-0 whitewashing of the Capitals. The offense, defense, goaltending and special teams were all just about perfect. No Marc Staal against Alex Ovechkin? No problem. Christensen was the man of the hour for the Blueshirts, scoring two goals and adding two assists for his first career four-point game. They were his first goals since December 15, and the pair gives him eight for the season. Henrik Lundqvist recorded his eighth shutout of the season, and it wasn't as easy as the final score indicated, as he had to make 35 saves. Brian Boyle notched his team-leading 20th goal of the season in the game. Wojtek Wolski was the star of the team's previous win, on Monday vs. the Hurricanes, when he tied the game in the third period and scored the winner in the shootout. Unfortunately, the Rangers couldn't keep the momentum from those two victories going, as they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a hard-fought 2-1 loss, which marked the Madison Square Garden debut of new Ranger Bryan McCabe. The defenseman doesn't come with the hoopla of Anthony, Billups or Williams, but he should help the Rangers with his veteran presence and power-play experience.
Matt Moulson: The New York Islanders only went 1-2-1 this week, putting a damper on their long-shot playoff hopes. But for the first two games, a win over Florida and a loss to Toronto, Moulson went on a mini Michael Grabner-type binge. The left wing notched a hat trick against the Panthers and scored another vs. the Maple Leafs. The scoring explosion gives Moulson 27 goals for the season, just three shy of his career-high of 30 last year, and the last goal puts him at 100 career points. With Grabner's 25 goals and John Tavares' 23, the Isles are the only NHL team to have three players with 23 or more goals. Other standouts: Matt Martin came up with a huge game, scoring two goals, in the rousing almost-win over the Flyers, Travis Hamonic had a goal and three assists this week, Andy MacDonald keeps racking up the assists and Al Montoya is giving the team a solid effort in the nets.
Martin Brodeur: He's back. Brodeur played his first game since February 6 in Montreal, and the New Jersey Devils won yet again. The future Hall of Fame goalie made 25 saves and only let one puck get by him. And everything came up roses with his knee. But let's not bury Johan Hedberg, who was Brodeur-like in the month of February, and recorded another shutout this week, beating Dallas 1-0. The Devils did lose, though, to Tampa Bay, which may be the only loss they're allowed the rest of the season if they want to make the playoffs. And they're back to playing good old Jacques Lemaire-style hockey, by scoring a total of four goals in three games but winning two of them.