Throughout Alex Rodriguez's career with the Yankees, there has been a running theme of the biggest moments finding A-Rod's spot in the lineup.
He's succeeded and he's failed in those moments, but the failures linger much longer because their have been some pretty big ones and because that's just the way it seems to work for Rodriguez. Carmelo Anthony hasn't risen (dropped?) to the level of A-Rod in the city just yet, but it feels like his third year in a Knicks uniform is going to determine whether he ever gets there.
This should be the year when everything was set up to work at an optimal level. No midseason trades, no lockouts and a full offseason to work together on all of the things that have stymied the Knicks in the last couple of years.
It hasn't worked out that way. Injuries have kept various members of the lineup on the sideline during the preseason and Amar'e Stoudemire is going to miss an undetermined amount of time with a knee injury that's going to make it even harder for the duo to find the rhythm that's eluded them to this point.
Honestly, though, it doesn't really matter. The stakes are the same for Anthony whether or not Stoudemire is in the lineup.
There are clear offensive advantages to playing power forward for a player so skilled in driving the lane, but Anthony is still going to have to be more skilled at keeping the offense from getting bogged down in isolation as he was when Stoudemire was healthy. There are nights when Anthony will carry the entire load, but there are going to be other nights as well.
The lineup is pretty well suited to work around Anthony in that role offensively. Ray Felton and Jason Kidd can both spot up with Steve Novak bombing away when Anthony kicks the ball out against a converging defense.
Fewer mid-range shots from Anthony and more shots close to the rim are both good things, but Anthony's effort will have to be strong at both ends for this approach to work out. Playing small gives the Knicks an offensive edge that comes with defensive liabilities that Anthony has to work hard to overcome if he's playing as a power forward.
Anthony has talked about doing all of these things this offseason. He's talked about them before without results.
Excuses could be made in each of the last two years as the Knicks remade themselves over and over again. This team is set pretty much in stone (literally in the case of some of the veteran additions) and Anthony is going to have to be more than just a remarkable scorer for it to be a winner.
Pull it off and the legend rewrites itself. If not, the team won't be the only thing set in stone.