New York Knicks’ superstar Carmelo Anthony deserves better than the recent comments Phil Jackson spewed in his direction.
Essentially, the criticism boils down to the fact that Phil thinks Melo holds the ball too long and, thus, hurts the offense. Obviously, star players don’t take kindly to that, so Melo promptly responded with a number of cryptic social media posts surrounding ego, insults, and how to deal with them.
Meanwhile, every New York Knicks fan in the world was left wondering if they will ever see a day where the face of the organization won’t openly get in fights with the most prominent executive in the front office.
To be clear, from a basketball perspective, Phil definitely has a point. Carmelo is a known ball stopper who has been criticized repeatedly for his overuse of isolation sets throughout his career. The fact that he doesn’t move the ball quickly on certain possessions is not only unsurprising, it’s become part of Melo’s game.
However, with that being said, Anthony remains one of the best one-on-one scorers in the entire NBA. Even at 31, with his talents diminishing, Melo’s arsenal of dribble moves and body feints, coupled with a deadly mid range jump shot, make him virtually unguardable from anywhere inside the three point arc.
There are only a handful of players in the entire league capable of some of the game-winners Carmelo has hit for the Knicks this season, and none of them have faced criticism from a prominent executive in their front office.
Quite frankly, he deserves better treatment than Phil.
This is a man who ranks 10th all-time on the Knicks’ leading scorer list, and should find his way into the top five if he finishes career in New York. Additionally, Melo is a man who has committed seven solid years to the Knicks, turning down numerous competitive offers to build something special in New York.
While that is frequently used as a black mark against Anthony’s legacy, Knicks fans should view it as a loyalty that appears virtually nonexistent in today’s NBA.
Realistically, the only season Melo spent on a legitimately competitive roster in New York was the 2012-13 season, when the Knicks won 54 games and made the Eastern Conference semifinals. Other than that, he has carried teams of misfits to near playoff berths, only to have media and fans alike come down on him for not being good enough to win on his own.
That is not how to treat a player who could end up with a banner in the rafters before it is all is said and done.
Furthermore, Phil Jackson is still not the head coach of the Knicks. If Phil wants to talk to the media about roster makeup, player acquisition strategy, or any number of the direly important jobs the Knicks have hired him to do, that would be awesome.
However, it is not his place in the slightest to openly discuss the way the team plays on the court with the media. It undermines head coach Jeff Hornacek, it undermines the players, and it undermines the team as a whole.
If Phil wants to have these discussions in private, and impart his basketball knowledge in a more intimate setting, that would be great. In fact, it’s part of the reason the Knicks hired him. However, using his media availability as a vehicle for airing is dirty laundry is not exactly befitting of Phil, and reflects very poorly on an organization not renowned for its sterling reputation.
As the Knicks reach a crossroads of Melo’s impending free agency, as well as Kristaps Porzingis’ development, they need to align their organizational vision. Whether fans like it or not, Anthony has been the face of this franchise for the better part of a decade, and his legacy in New York will likely reflect the future of the franchise.
If the Knicks want hope of assembling a championship roster with Phil at the helm, he needs to start by reconciling his differences with Melo and treating his star player with more respect.