The world may be turning against Carmelo Anthony, but his teammates are not.
In a very, very bad week in a season full of them, the Knicks star has endured what appeared to be jabs from a former teammate, engaged in a verbal spat with a heckling fan, issued a public apology and answered endless questions about the mounting frustration of a season in tailspin.
But while Melo is embroiled in what appears to be a tailspin of his own, Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez not only are supporting Anthony, but insisting that Melo is doing everything he can to keep the Knicks afloat.
They’re the ones letting him down, Porzingis said.
“I feel bad for Melo,” Porzingis said Wednesday at the 17th annual Knicks Bowl at Chelsea Piers, which benefits the Garden of Dreams Foundation. Anthony, who was expected to attend, missed the event for what the team called personal reasons.
“It’s difficult” to see, Porzingis said. “You feel bad for your leader, for Melo. He’s been doing everything for us. He’s been scoring, he’s been rebounding, he’s been playing really good. We want to step up. We’ve got to play at his level and we want to help him win games.”
Earlier in the day, Anthony released a statement saying he regretted an outburst during Tuesday’s 104-85 loss to the Trail Blazers, the Knicks’ 15th defeat in 18 games. During that game, Melo barked back at a fan who had been heckling him for an extended period. The fan was escorted out by Garden security, but the incident made headlines and newscasts.
“We are all frustrated by the team’s recent results — everyone, including me, my teammates, coaches and the fans,” Anthony said in a statement posted on the Knicks’ public relations Twitter account. “Last night, a fan and I let those frustrations get the best of us. I should not have responded the way I did.”
That incident came only two days after former Knick Amar’e Stoudemire appeared to obliquely criticize Anthony’s leadership, implying that some on the team may have been jealous of Jeremy Lin and the rise of Linsanity in 2012. It appeared Stoudemire was referring to Anthony, and the two posted messages on social media before resolving the issue Tuesday, with Stoudemire saying his original comments were misconstrued.
All of this, and more, led to Anthony saying this year is tougher than their 65-loss season last year. “At least last year we were in a situation where we had to start from the bottom,” he said after Tuesday’s loss, which put their record at 25-37. “This year, we got off to a good start. Everything just shifted all of a sudden for us.”
On Wednesday, Lopez said that although the entire team is frustrated, Anthony has to operate in another stratosphere. The pressure and Anthony’s increasingly public displeasure even has some wondering if he’ll decide to waive his no-trade clause this offseason — something that seemed so improbable earlier this year.
“He’s going through something very different from us,” Lopez said. “There are times on the floor when we’re putting a lot of pressure on him . . . He’s in the spotlight.”
Like Porzingis, he understands Anthony’s reaction.
“We’re with him 100 percent of the way.”
With Al Iannazzone