It has been over a month since Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter retired. After 20 years, the pinstripe-shortstop leaves behind not just an incredible legacy, but an opening for the title of the face of New York sports.
It is an interesting discussion given the state of the local teams and stars.
At the moment, the Bronx Bombers have no one that jumps out at you, at least not with significant service time under his belt (e.g. Masahiro Tanaka). In Queens, the Mets have a captain of their own in David Wright and an ace in Matt Harvey, but let’s face it; New York will always belong to the Yanks.
So what about football?
Eli Manning has two Super-Bowl rings to his name, but the Giants have struggled recently, going 3-4 this year and failing to reach the playoffs the previous two seasons. As for the Jets, Rex Ryan and other members of Gang Green are certainly the ugly faces of New York, but not who comes to mind when you think of Big Apple sports.
There is Henrik Lundqvist, the Ranger’s star goalie who nearly led the team to a Stanley Cup championship last season. Still, as exciting as that playoff run was, New York is not about hockey either.
Instead, it is another man who, like Lundqvist, spends his time at Madison Square Garden, that will assume the role of the face of New York sports… Carmelo Anthony.
The Garden, along with the rest of the city, is the mecca of basketball, and the Knicks have dibs on the city’s fan base. The Brooklyn Nets do not hold a candle.
Anthony is the face of that Knicks team. He wanted nothing more than to be in New York City and has done nothing but excel since coming to the Knicks.
Melo brought excitement back to Knicks’ basketball. The ‘Bockers are not the best team by any means, but MSG has a pulse when Anthony is on the floor. He has been an All-Star every year since joining New York and led the team to 54 wins in 2012-13 on his way to a scoring title.
Yes, last year was a disaster for the team, but that doesn’t change the fact that Anthony is the most electrifying athlete the Empire State has to offer right now.
After his whole free agent extravaganza, all eyes are going to be on him; that started with Wednesday night’s opener. He may not be perfect, but Carmelo Anthony is the face of sports in New York now.
The question is, can he live up to it?
Gary Phillips is a sophomore journalism student and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.