After another disheartening loss in another disheartening season, Carmelo Anthony stood in front of his locker Wednesday night and answered questions about another odd and seemingly negative statement about him courtesy of Knicks team president Phil Jackson.
Jackson’s method of delivery this time was a tweet in which he wrote that a Bleacher Report article criticizing Anthony “almost rings the bell” and compared Anthony to NBA flameout Michael Graham. “I learned you don’t change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze,” Jackson wrote.
It’s at least the third time this season Jackson has taken a shot at Anthony. It’s unclear what Jackson’s motives are, but one thought is he is trying to goad Anthony into agreeing to waive his no-trade clause before the Feb. 23 deadline. Or it could be to motivate Anthony.
“I told you I’m done asking why,” Anthony said. Later, he added, “I’m self-motivated. I can get myself motivated.”
As much as he is tired of losing, Anthony is tired of having to talk about why Jackson keeps taking shots at him.
“I think anybody would get tired,” Anthony said. “If you went to work every day and had these spats about you eventually you would get tired. Unless you’re as strong as I am and can deal with it and move on from it. I think anybody — any human being — at some point in time would start feeling that way about it. But you can’t cry over spoiled milk.”
As proof of his lack of concern over the substance of Jackson’s latest salvo, Anthony said of Michael Graham: “I definitely wasn’t looking at it and Googling who Michael Graham was. No disrespect to Michael Graham. I didn’t look at it that deeply.”
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek facetiously opened his pregame news conference with a “No comment” — trying to bring levity to an unhealthy situation. But even occasional quips delivered in that easygoing Midwestern drawl couldn’t hide the fact that the increasingly tense relationship between Jackson and Anthony is threatening to unravel a team that doesn’t need extra help in that department.
“It’s a distraction,” Hornacek said. “Everything that gets out there — OK, whatever. Hopefully, it’s not a distraction for our guys. Stuff that comes out with Phil and Carmelo, Carmelo handles it great. He’s handled it great the whole year. . . . He’s got the no-trade. He can do whatever he wants. We would love to have him here. I think he’s a great player.”
Hornacek was asked about the level of dysfunction surrounding the team and if it was “worse” than he expected.
“I was warned,” he said. “But it was expected that there was going to be something all the time. It’s lived up to the billing.”
Of Jackson, he said: “Whatever he wrote, you might want to ask him. I can’t interpret what he says. I didn’t understand what he was trying to get at.”
At various points this season, Jackson has implied that Anthony is a selfish player who holds the ball too long and clogs up the Knicks’ attempts at a triangle offense. The most consistent knock is that Anthony is not a winner.
Jackson has not spoken to the Knicks media since Sept. 23. He did make an appearance Wednesday night — as a peacemaker after the Charles Oakley incident in which the former Knicks star was ejected from the Garden during the first quarter following a courtside altercation and later was arrested. Jackson was seen trying to calm Oakley.