George Karl respects Carmelo Anthony, and his teammates, too

Carmelo Anthony brings the ball up court in

Carmelo Anthony brings the ball up court in the first half against the Denver Nuggets. (Dec. 9, 2012) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Carmelo Anthony may be having an MVP-caliber season, but his former coach, George Karl, was in no mood to give him the lion's share of credit for the Knicks' outstanding start.

"I don't think it's him by himself," the Nuggets' coach said before Sunday night's game. "I think it's a combination of Tyson Chandler's leadership, Jason Kidd's veteran-ness and Raymond Felton coming here with a mission. There's a lot of psychological toughness out there that the team hasn't had in the past."

Karl coached Anthony with the Nuggets from 2003-11 before the Knicks traded for him in February 2011. The two often butted heads as Anthony put up big numbers but the team got out of the first round of the playoffs only once. It's been almost two years since Anthony was traded from Denver, and it's finally starting to look as though the Knicks got the better of that deal.

"I've always said that Melo is going to win a championship someday,'' Karl said. "He's going to figure out that numbers and stat sheets aren't important, it's the team scoreboard and the intangibles in the end that make the winners champions."

Karl did not say if this is that season for Anthony. But it was clear that he thinks the Knicks and their star are headed in the right direction. "I think they got what they wanted," Karl said. "They wanted to get back to the top of the mountain. They took a chance on going out and getting one of the top 10 players in basketball, and it didn't work for a while. But it's working now."

Felton was traded to Denver in the Anthony deal, dealt to Portland and traded back to the Knicks, so Karl coached him for only half a season. "He's a winner,'' Karl said. "He's a good player that wants to prove that he's a really good player."

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