"Carmelo has been fighting with this for a long time," said a Knicks team official. "It's not that he doesn't want to be on the level of guys like Kobe and Lebron. He does. Unfortunately, even though he has a cool, unique name like those guys, he's not nearly as good as them. And it's hard to live and perform under the expectations that he is."
Anthony's arrival in New York via a blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets last season only increased the pressure to perform on a player who won an NCAA title as a freshman and was selected No. 3 overall in 2003 between Lebron James at No. 1 and Dwyane Wade at No. 5.
"Why can't people just think of Carmelo as a good player?" said a close friend of Anthony's. "Like: 'Boy, that Carmelo is pretty good,' instead of 'Carmelo sure isn't living up to expectations' or 'that Carmelo is the shittiest superstar ever.' That stuff hurts."
Despite high expectations in New York, Anthony's Knicks are only 7-11 while his former Nuggets team has greatly improved without him and has the second-best record in the Western Conference.
"I have nothing but positive things to say about Carmelo," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "He would be a great piece here. Just imagine how great he would be to bring off the bench as a scoring threat. He'd be the superstar of sixth men."
Anthony plans to express in his press conference that he is sorry for not being a superstar and hopes that fans can appreciate the impressive basketball ability that he does have. He also will encourage Knicks management to acquire a superstar.
New York big man Amare Stoudemire also reportedly was considering a press conference in which he would admit that he, too, is not a superstar, but that was nixed.
"Everyone already knows that about Amare," said a teammate. "It would be like him announcing that he is tall."