They are the five words any athlete most dreads to hear.
Can’t win the big one.
It’s a label that sticks to you like Darrelle Revis or bubble gum.
Carmelo Anthony has been saddled with that dubious tag. Even worse for him, he’s in the media capital of the world. It’s a lot easier to not win the big one with the Denver Nuggets than with the New York Knicks.
And if he thought the talk is bad now, by the end of New York’s first-round NBA playoff series with the archrival Celtics, it could be loud enough to burst eardrums from Brooklyn to Buffalo.
The Knicks are the No. 2 seed in the East with a 54-28 record and Boston is No. 7 with a pedestrian 41-40 mark.
All 10 ESPN analysts predicted the New Yorkers to win the series and only three had it going seven games.
So if Melo, the NBA scoring king, can’t lead his club past Boston?
That’s too painful to think of if you are Anthony.
He has a career 17-37 playoff record and take away a run to the 2009 Western Conference finals and it’s a pitiful 7-31 while losing all eight playoff series.
He denied he’s feeling any extra pressure, which, of course, is laughable. But if New York loses, I assure you, Melo won’t be laughing.
The reality is that the loser tag can be reversed quickly. Heard anybody call LeBron James a loser lately? John Elway could never win the big one until the Broncos acquired Terrell Davis. Believe it or not, the great Magic Johnson once was openly criticized in Sports Illustrated for not being able to win the big one.
Closer to home, Kevin Garnett seemed destined to be one of the greatest players to never win the big one.