Calling Carmelo Anthony selfish and greedy for taking a max contract from the New York Knicks instead of settling for less and helping them and their cap situation doesn’t make too much sense when you consider the big picture.

Not every superstar needs to take a pay cut in order to make his team better. Dirk Nowitzki isn’t in the same situation. The decision made by the big three four years ago isn’t how the majority of NBA players think. Yes, some of them would love to win an NBA title, but knowing their window of opportunity to make this kind of money isn’t timeless, often taking the max money available to them is the practical choice.

No one is promising Anthony that if he is taking a pay cut then Phil Jackson will bring superstars with the money saved, certainly not this season when their way above the salary cap limit. Anthony has shown his faith in the Knicks, but most of all wanted to make sure he has a maximum contract for the rest of his prime, because he won’t get another opportunity to sign for this kind of money. When the difference is around $30 million, it’s not being selfish. It’s being practical.

The move made by the Miami Heat four years ago changed the way fans look at the game. Suddenly, anyone not taking a pay cut to open up more cap space for his team is selfish and greedy. But there’s also the other side to this: With NBA owners selling their franchises for billions and signing TV deals worth hundreds of millions, players who make it all possible don’t feel they should be the ones giving up on their pay.

Kobe Bryant took a lot of criticism for signing that huge deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, knowing very well that it’s not going to help the Los Angeles Lakers win anything. But the reason the Buss family were able to sign such a huge deal with local television was the presence of Bryant, or part of it. Maybe the brand of the franchise is bigger than any player, but right now Bryant is a major selling point. Anthony is the same in New York at the moment, and has been for the last few seasons.

Dirk Nowitzki took a pay cut compared to what he made in the past, but it’s not like players who are in the twilight of their careers make max money anyway. It’s not a fair example. Anthony wants an NBA title, but he also wants to be paid the kind of money he’s worth. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just means that he’s not willing to do everything in order to end up with a ring. Still, no one is promising him glory and championships if he takes less money. Maybe he did the math in his head, and realized that it’s better to take the money and hope for the best.