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Sunday, July 6, 2014
What will you think of Melo if he leaves NY?

By Ian Begley

As Carmelo Anthony continues to weigh his options, the idea that he ends up back in New York is seeming like less and less of a sure thing.

If you’re a Knicks fan who wants to see Carmelo re-sign, you can thank Kobe Bryant for making things a little more difficult.

Let’s say, for a second, that Carmelo ends up in L.A. with Kobe. Or in Chicago with Derrick Rose.

What will his legacy as a Knick be?

On the court, it won’t be great, right?

The Knicks dealt away four rotation players and two first-round draft picks for Anthony.

During his tenure in New York, the Knicks reached the playoffs in three out of four seasons but never made it passed the second round, due in part to some circumstances that had little to do with his performance. Anthony’s last year in New York, through no fault of his own, ended in a 37-win season.

So it’s fair to expect some segment of the Knicks fan base to treat Carmelo as Public Enemy No. 1 in New York if he spurns the Knicks.

But don’t expect Vanessa Bernard to trash Melo.

Bernard was one of hundreds of Red Hook residents lined up on Columbia Street on a cold November evening in 2012 in need of a hand from Anthony.

That night, Anthony and his charity, in conjunction with Feed the Children, delivered 500 boxes filled with food and cleaning supplies to housing projects in Red Hook that had been impacted hardest by Hurricane Sandy.

Some of the residents had been without electricity or heat for more than a week.

"Sometimes it feels like we're the forgotten borough, the forgotten neighborhood," Bernard said that night in the neighborhood where Anthony was raised. "This is uplifting. Some families don't have much at all, and it's really difficult. Anything helps, and to do this is uplifting."

"We just wanted to provide a temporary relief," Justice Anthony, Carmelo's brother, said that chilly night in Brooklyn.

Thing is, Anthony, through his charity, has provided relief to scores of underserved New Yorkers. And that, along with everything that transpired on the hardwood at Madison Square Garden, should be a part of his New York legacy.

This isn’t to say that Anthony doesn't deserve criticism if he leaves the Knicks. That’s how things work in New York. You fail to deliver, you get critiqued. It’s a part of the game.

But sometimes we forget that athletes are multi-dimensional, that they have causes that are important to them and they want to find ways to help those in need, just like most of the rest of us.

Danasia Farrow met Carmelo Anthony on Dec. 20 at a movie theater in Times Square. Anthony hosted 250 middle school students for a screening of the movie “Big," handing out gift bags and autographs before and after the show.

Farrow, 10, is part of the Children of Promise program, which serves to aid children of incarcerated parents.

“[Anthony] told me to be a good girl and stay in school, and don’t curse,” Farrow said by phone earlier this week. “He signed my basketball. It was exciting.”

Farrow earned the chance to meet Anthony by writing an essay about improving her behavior.

Farrow and Children of Promise officials say her behavior improved markedly in the weeks leading up to the meeting with Anthony -- and it's been stellar since she met with Melo.

“Now I got an award for listening to teachers and staff,” Danasia says. ”It was great to meet him.”

So if Anthony leaves New York, you have every right to criticize his decision and critique his time with the Knicks. But don’t forget about Danasia Farrow when you’re talking about his legacy.

Question: What do you think Carmelo's New York legacy will be if he leaves the Knicks?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.