New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony Gets Support From Teammate
Feb 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots over the defense of Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson (24) during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks‘ Carmelo Anthony needs all the support he can get right. It must have meant a lot to him when one of his teammates did.

Lance Thomas struggled to stay healthy last season and justify his new $27 million contract with some of his signature effort on defense. When talking to Marc Berman of The New York Post, however, Thomas was able to defend Carmelo Anthony from criticism.

Thomas said Anthony was one of his “best friends” and that the ten-time All-Star was not the problem. Both players from Brooklyn and being so close there’s probably some bias here, but it means something that Anthony has teammates who come to his defense like this. Not every superstar in the NBA does.

“I love him here,’’ Thomas told The Post in his first comments to the media since his season-ending injury in Utah on March 22 after which he disappeared from the locker room. “I love him as a teammate, love him as a competitor, love him as a person. Everything else is out of my control, but his approach has always been great.
He’s an amazing professional. I’m not going to comment on what’s happening with him and the organization and trade rumors. I just know I love him as a teammate. I want it to work out.’’

The duo has been teammates with the New York Knicks for two-plus seasons after Thomas was traded to New York during the tumultuous stretch in 2014-15.

Per Berman, Thomas continued saying that he holds a deep “respect” for Melo. The rest of his teammates feel the same way.

Thomas continues by attempting to dispel the narrative that Melo didn’t care about his teammates or winning.

“Carmelo fights for his teammates,’’ Thomas said. “He loves to win. Every player in this league, when losing happens, frustration builds up and we’re in the biggest market in the world. Everything is under a magnifying glass here. But he has a passion for winning and bringing it under the biggest microscope. He’s embraced New York and has fought for the Knicks for so long. He’s done an amazing job remaining healthy and being a class act when things have been in an uproar for our team. I can only applaud his approach in everything he’s done — all of the white noise around him.

Thomas praises Anthony for staying professional despite all of the reasons that he shouldn’t. Throughout the season, Anthony didn’t respond to a single one of Phil Jackson’s digs.

Now we know how his teammates felt about that.

Thomas also spoke about how much he admires the way Anthony leads.

“He’s done a great job of being a professional and remaining a leader for our team. For me to watch him go through it, for the younger players to see the level of focus, putting all that stuff aside and remaining a veteran leader for the team, I can only hope that when I become a veteran later in my career, my teammates have utmost respect for me the way we have for Carmelo.’’

Anthony is having a terrible couple of weeks. He’s taking crap from his boss, and it looks like he and his wife are headed for divorce.

Some support from a friend is just what he needs. Well, his boss resigning would be pretty sweet too.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.