When Carmelo Anthony signed a five-year, $124 million contract back in 2014, New York was thrilled to combine the future Hall of Famer with the brilliant basketball mind of Phil Jackson. The man with 11 championship rings who coached Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had the chance to mold one of the best offensive players in basketball history.
The project hasn’t turned out quite like originally intended. In fact, it’s been an absolute disaster as of late, taking a harsh turn on Tuesday following an article by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding. The piece questioned Carmelo Anthony’s priorities, his adjustments to coach Jeff Hornacek’s system and a lack of winning mentality. To make matters worse, Phil Jackson alluded to and seemingly agreed with Ding’s article in a tweet sent out shortly after its publication:
Michael Graham, the player Jackson was referring to, played on a team coached by Phil during his time in the CBA. Graham and Jackson got into a heated exchange in the middle of a game, leading to Graham eventually being released by the team. The subtle dig comparing the controversial Graham to his star player Carmelo Anthony is not unlike Phil, but as the leader and face of the organization, it comes as a bit of a shock that Jackson would make a comment like this over social media.
Although Carmelo has grown accustomed to the criticism throughout his career, it has to sting a bit more coming from within his own organization.
Make no mistake – Carmelo Anthony isn’t perfect. He’s averaging 22.9 points per game this season, but his defense has been nonexistent for years and he still struggles conforming to a winning style of basketball. The Knicks haven’t exactly put the best pieces around him during his tenure, but Melo has done himself no favors by staying stagnant in his evolution as a player.
After a solid 12-9 start to the season, the Knicks have struggled over the past two months. Right now, the team is 22-31 and near the bottom of a mediocre Eastern Conference. The emergence of Kristaps Porzingis is seemingly the only bright spot in what has become a black hole in Midtown, New York.
However, one thing Carmelo hasn’t done is betray his team. He doesn’t want to leave – he has made it clear he wants to stay with the Knicks. He loves New York, and the fans love him back. The 13-year veteran wants to make it work in this city.
But with the utter chaos ensuing within the Knicks organization, it is tough to make out who has become a bigger problem: Carmelo Anthony or Phil Jackson.