Carmelo Anthony is now the only one of the famous 2003 Draft Class, at least from its premier members, without a ring. All the others in the top 5 of that draft, (LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) have a championship ring. If the pressure for Anthony in New York wasn’t enough, now there’s this.

To be fair to Anthony, he shouldn’t be shouldering expectancy like LeBron James has over the years. He’s just not that good of a player, like LeBron that is. An All-Star? Sure. All-NBA first team? Probably not. Not with James and Kevin Durant in this world. Hall of fame? Maybe, maybe not. Wade is also probably the better player. He’s somewhere along the lines with Bosh. An All-Star, but not a big enough player to actually lead a team on his back, taking them all the way.

Let me put it in another way – A team with Anthony as its best player probably won’t get a shot at the NBA title. The New York Knicks are working on upgrading this squad, and with a fully healthy Jeremy Lin next year, there are hopes for much more than another first round disappointment. There’s also a lot of players running out of contracts – Baron Davis, Mike Bibby Jared Jeffries, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith. Maybe Novak and Jeffries are the only players who return from this list.

The Knicks aren’t that flexible under the cap, already owing Carmelo, Chandler and Stoudemire $50 million. There some exceptions to play with but still, no big free agency redemption will come. It’s mostly about carrying a lot of the good energy from last season into 2012-2013, with Mike Woodson fully in charge, and hoping things click. It’s about improving from the inside.

For Anthony, it was another year of taking shots while taking praise on other nights, like in that late season game against the Chicago Bulls, nailing the buzzer beating three pointer.But there was a lot of talk about how the Knicks work better without him, and how Jeremy Lin is a better player and leader for this team without ‘Melo. How he’s overweight, and hogs the ball too much. Some true, some just cliches.

But Anthony has been working hard at improving this summer. Mike Woodson himself suggested that along with some other teammates of his, Anthony needs to get in better shape. So Anthony went to LA, and has already dropped 12 pounds. He’s been working out with Chandler and Jeremy Lin as well. Everything and anything to get better, to get further in the playoffs. That seems to be the new mantra. Seeing LeBron James capture his first NBA title just proves to be more motivation.

The motivation is fun at this point in time just to see those guys and see how excited they were to win that championship and see LeBron overcome everything that he’s been going through and that’s been said about him. And for him to finally get it, I couldn’t be more excited for him to get that. But for me, it’s motivation and it’s exciting.

I believe that my time is coming. I’m a big believer in that, whether it’s this year or next year. I truly believe that my time is coming and we’re going to keep playing for that.

New York isn’t Denver. If Anthony doesn’t show he’s making progress towards taking the Knicks a lot further than they have for over a decade, Knicks fans aren’t really going to care about his beliefs and weight trimmings. Just like him, they want a title ring.

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