Carmelo Anthony never met a shot he didn’t take. At Phil Jackson, that is.
This past week alone, Carmelo publicly supported his buddy LeBron James while denouncing Phil’s use of the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business partners.
“I don’t think you would have to be a rocket scientist or an educated person to understand what that means to us,” Anthony said, taking a not-so-subtle dig at Jackson.
Carmelo upped the ante on Sunday following the Knicks’ impressive 104-94 matinee win over the Atlanta Hawks. The victory comes three days after an ugly loss to the Washington Wizards that resulted in Saturday’s hour-long team meeting.
Yes, Phil was present and according to Melo, the controversial Knicks’ president was on his best behavior. Phil didn’t speak at the meeting. He just listened.
“Which is good,” Melo added.
Needless to say, this relationship is on the rocks. Has been for a while. And yet in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter. Even though Phil still thinks of himself as a coach, he isn’t coaching this team. And Carmelo has a no-trade clause, gifted to him by Jackson, which in essence makes Anthony the most powerful basketball man in the organization. More powerful than Jackson, his boss.
Carmelo Anthony reacts after sinking a three-pointer on Sunday.
The great divide began with Phil’s arrival in New York and his insistence on running an offense — the triangle — that the players never embraced. The one player still here from Phil’s first day is Anthony. The great divide accelerated last spring when Carmelo privately campaigned for Tom Thibodeau to become head coach only to have Jackson hire Jeff Hornacek.
And now it’s all out in the open. Phil’s had his moments as well, going back to Carmelo’s free agency when he suggested that the Knicks would be fine with or without Anthony. That one backfired to the point where Carmelo demanded the no-trade clause.
Phil even took an indirect shot at Carmelo in the same ESPN interview when Phil mentioned LeBron’s posse. Jackson made sure to point out that the Knicks, unlike the Cavs, don’t have a “Rolls Royce.” File that one under: Things a top executive should not say about his All Star forward.
These little internal squabbles are frowned upon in every organization. And that includes MSG, where Garden Chairman James Dolan can’t be happy that the biggest diva and highest-maintenance star on the team isn’t a player but rather the Knicks president.
Carmelo is not entirely blameless here, either. His defense, never a strong suit to be sure, has been troubling. But then there are moments like Sunday when Anthony reminds you of why the Knicks pay him the big bucks.
Against a talented Hawks team, Anthony scored 31 points by making 12 of 22 shots, including four 3-pointers. Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 50 points, outscoring Atlanta’s starting front line of Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore by one point.
The Knicks had a different starting center on Sunday with Joakim Noah home ill. Kyle O’Quinn responded with eight points and eight rebounds while the rookie backup, Willy Hernangomez, added seven points and eight rebounds. Both O’Quinn and Hernangomez were physical and tough against Howard.
With Noah out, the Knicks could again use their best lineup — Anthony at power forward and Porzingis at center. Bazemore raved about Porzingis afterwards, calling him an “awkward creature” who “can do everything.”
Noah has had a few good moments this season. He was terrific two weeks ago in a road win against the Bulls. But Noah has yet to justify the four-year, $72 million contract Jackson gave him.
The Knicks’ record is 6-7 and they’ve been too inconsistent to think this result is the start of something positive. They were more precise and energetic than the Hawks, who may have been struggling with the noon start.
Their German point guard, Dennis Schroder, had a miserable day. It began on the court where he was 0-for-8 and carried over into the locker room when Schroder accidentally dropped his diamond studded earring into a crack between his stall and the wall.
“I’m not leaving until I get it,” Schroder said during the frantic recovery mission.
Carmelo’s game and exit were seamless. He was sharp. And that includes his tongue.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News