The Knicks don't need Carmelo Anthony because they had a terrible game after a tough West Coast trip, because Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert swatted away enough of Amar'e Stoudemire's shots that Stoudemire lost his head long before the Knicks lost the game.
No. As fun and entertaining as the Knicks have been for most of this season, for all of the life they have put back into the Garden, the Knicks need Carmelo Anthony - who seems to want them as much as they want him - if they are going to build a team that can do what the Knicks of the '90s did, and that's beat Pat Riley's Miami Heat.
That doesn't mean the Heat are going to win the NBA championship this season, even though they might. If the Celtics are intact at the end of the season, if Kevin Garnett is operating at full speed and Shaq is still standing, I believe the Celtics still have a better team - and a team better built for the playoffs - than Miami.
But after that 9-8 start, you can see how quickly LeBron and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh figured things out, saw how almost nobody could stay with them for two months. If they are intact by the end of the regular season - which means Mike Miller has his shooting touch and Udonis Haslem (who still says he can play by April 1) is actually giving them a presence on the boards - they can play with the Celtics or the Lakers or Dwight Howard or anybody.
Here is all you have to know about Lebron and Wade and Bosh: They aren't going anywhere. They are all under 30. They are going to be together a long time. You think they won't be better next year, or the year after?
Come on. Maybe they aren't going to win all the titles LeBron talked about. But do you really believe they aren't going to win a couple?
And as long as LeBron is healthy, the Heat are built around the best basketball player in the world. You always have to start there, whether or not you think he'll ever come close to winning the way Michael Jordan did or the way Kobe Bryant has.
"Look at the Cavaliers," my friend Paul Westphal said on Friday afternoon before his team gave the Knicks a bad beating at the Garden. "They went into the playoffs last season looking like they might be the best team in the league. Now look at the record they have this season. One guy left. But it was THAT guy."
Then he was talking about the Heat.
"They have two guys, LeBron and Wade, as hard to cover as any two guys in our league," Westphal said. "And every night those two guys are on the court together."
If the Knicks are ever going to win a championship, they are going to have to go through those two guys. And go through Bosh, a much better and more unselfish player for the Heat this season than I thought he would be. Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, all of the sidemen for Amar'e? They are nice players. They aren't close to being the player, and scorer, and talent, that Carmelo Anthony is.
It doesn't mean that a deal like this, if it happens, is without risk. There is always risk when you put two stars together, at the Garden or anywhere else. There is always a chance it will be a combustible mix, and not always in a good way. It worked with Clyde Frazier and Earl (The Pearl) Monroe in the glory days. And then, not too long after the glory days, it didn't work out at all with Spencer Haywood and Bob McAdoo. You never know.
But Amar'e Stoudemire alone, even with all the MVP nights he's had this season and the MVP chants he's heard, can't do this alone. He knows it, Donnie Walsh knows it, Mike D'Antoni knows it. So do the fans at the Garden who saw what the Heat did to the Knicks the first time they came in this season. Who saw how helpless the Knicks were - and not just because of a dreadful shooting night - when Stoudemire got himself good and sideways on Friday night. Stoudemire should have been called for a flagrant foul against Sacramento's Carl Landry and was lucky not to get another technical, on his way to what might be a Rasheed Wallace-like number this season.
This is a star league. The Celtics have four. The Spurs have three, plus Richard Jefferson. The Heat have three. The Lakers have Kobe and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. The Bulls have Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer. The Magic have one, truly, in Howard unless you're willing to count Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu.
The Knicks need Carmelo Anthony, sooner rather than later. The object of the game isn't to be a good ticket again, that's just a start. The object of the game is to win the title. You need more than Amar'e to do that.