If anyone can relate to being a Knicks forward who must carry a heavy load on offense, it is Carmelo Anthony’s favorite player, Bernard King.
And King went a step beyond that on Wednesday, saying of Anthony, “I feel for him every time I watch him.”
King, a Knick from 1982-87, spoke after a panel discussion at Madison Square Garden that celebrated the 1983-84 team that took the Celtics to a Game 7 before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
At least that team still is remembered fondly a third of a century later. It is unlikely any of Anthony’s will be. Now he faces an uncertain offseason that could find him headed elsewhere.
“I know that Carmelo loves it here in New York,” said King, who grew up in Brooklyn. “I can imagine what it must be like for him, having to think about potentially leaving New York, going somewhere else and pursuing that (championship) goal. Not that he wants to leave New York. He wants it to happen here.”
King said he and Anthony are in regular contact but that they do not discuss basketball. How does he think Melo has handled his situation as the losses pile up and the team heads toward the draft lottery?
“I think how he deals with it is seen every night,” King said. “He comes to play and delivers every single night. That’s how you deal with it, by being the best player you can possibly be each night you take the floor.
“I know the difficulties of trying to carry a ballclub. It’s tough. When you’re not winning it’s really, really difficult.”
King was joined by teammates Rory Sparrow, Darrell Walker and Bill Cartwright, and coach Hubie Brown. After leaving the Knicks, Cartwright played for then-Bulls coach and current Knicks president Phil Jackson.
Cartwright dismissed the notion Jackson’s triangle offense is to blame for the Knicks’ woes.
“You’re giving up 108 (points per game),” he said. “Is your problem really offensive? Is it really? It’s so preposterous . . . You have to guard better. Having All-Stars is always good. So maybe we can talk about that. But first let’s stop somebody. That might help.”
Brown and his players displayed during the panel discussion the easy camaraderie of that ’83-84 team as they recounted defeating the Pistons in a decisive fifth game in Detroit, then putting a scare into the eventual champion Celtics.
Often, Brown spoke of what a coaching pleasure it was to have King. “The bigger the game, the bigger this guy played,” Brown said. “He always rose to the occasion.”
King said he hopes the Knicks are going through a transition of the sort that is common in the NBA. Whether or not Anthony will be a part of it remains to be seen.
“He’s handled the pressure well — very well, in fact,” King said. “I’m just disappointed that he hasn’t had the cast around him that really would take him to the next level and meet that desire of winning a championship.”