Carmelo Anthony takes too many shots. Not the kind you’re thinking, but the shots fired at him by people who were or are close to him.
In the last few weeks, Anthony has been the recipient of a couple of unexpected blasts. First Knicks president Phil Jackson essentially called Anthony a ball-stopper. Then, George Karl, Anthony’s former coach, hammered the player and the person in his new book, “Furious George.”
It was a rip job that gave Anthony every right to fire back at Karl. But Anthony handled it well, something for which he doesn’t get enough credit.
Anthony has, in his word, embraced the fact that people will always criticize him as a player, and it never seems to affect him.
Playing in New York, he is under so much scrutiny and has fans wishing he would defer more to Kristaps Porzingis.
Anthony hears and sees it all. His attitude, mood and approach to each game rarely changes.
“I think Carmelo’s great at handling all this stuff,” coach Jeff Horancek said. “His focus has really been on this team, with the new players that we have, trying to be a leader for our team. I think he ignores a lot of stuff, which is hard to do, but very commendable that he’s doing that.”
After the Knicks beat the Magic Thursday, hours after Karl’s book had made the news, Anthony was heard singing “I believe I can fly,” very loud. He was in great spirits, and then came into the locker room and answered the questions about Karl.
If Anthony was the selfish person and player Karl made him out to be, he might have gone off. Instead, he took the high road, even saying he hopes that Karl “finds happiness in what he’s doing. His book hopefully will bring him happiness.”
Anthony joked he may tell his side when he writes his book. What’s the title?
“Stay Melo,” Anthony said. “Not Furious.”
People change, mature and evolve. Anthony has done that with the Knicks. He’s more of a team player than he ever was with the Nuggets, understands he can’t do it alone.
No, he’s not the defender anyone wants him to be, still slows down the offense at times and still takes some shots that make you cringe. But accept Anthony for what he is and what he does for the Knicks and Porzingis.
The young star on the rise will be the first to tell you that all the attention Anthony helps make the game easier for Porzingis and opens shots for him. That’s something Anthony doesn’t get enough credit for either.
Karl also blasted J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin in his memoir. The book’s tone was set in the Introduction, which led with a quote from Martin that said, “George needs to keep his mouth shut, first and foremost.”
DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t been in the holiday spirit, and his antics take away from what he is: arguably the NBA’s best center.
Cousins went off on Portland for 55 points to lead the Kings to the win. He also went off — verbally — on Meyers Leonard. the Portland backup center who, Cousins said, hurled vulgarities at him and was “over the top” and “disrespectful.”
After scoring inside and getting fouled, Cousins screamed at Leonard, who was out of the game, and appeared to spit his mouthpiece at the bench. The referees ejected Cousins, but then conferred and reversed it. Cousins said he was in the locker room looking for something “to tear up” before being told he could return.
His behavior was all everyone was talking about afterward, not his unreal performance.
Cousins made it personal against Leonard. Just as it was personal for Cousins when he screamed and cursed at a Sacramento Bee reporter, resulting in a $50,000 fine from the organization.
There will probably come a time when the Kings decide to move this immense talent. Cousins dominates, they don’t win, and his sometimes boorish conduct steals the headlines. A team with a strong locker room or coach or culture could bring out the best in Cousins.
The Kings don’t have that. Matt Barnes and Cousins were involved in an altercation in a New York nightclub two weeks ago. Rudy Gay said he won’t re-sign, so the Kings are trying to move him. Onetime Knick Arron Afflalo reportedly refused to go in a game recently. Afflalo denied that, but it’s evident the Kings need a major shake-up.
PICK STARS, NOT PALS
For the first time, players will vote for the NBA All-Star Game starters. They can vote for their teammates and themselves. But if Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and James Harden aren’t on every player’s ballot this new system needs to be changed.
Fan votes account for 50 percent while players and media 25 percent each. Balloting begins on Christmas.
TIS THE SEASON
The Knicks will play their 51st Christmas Day game, the most in NBA history, when they face they host Boston Sunday. They’re 22-28 overall. Anthony is averaging 34.3 points in four Christmas games, the second highest-average behind onetime Knick Tracy McGrady, who scored 43.3 in three games.
Anthony said his favorite Christmas gift was a car that his wife LaLa bought him a couple of years ago. But before he was reach and famous he chose a Jerry Rice jersey he got as a kid.
“It was a replica,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t authentic but it was the thought that counts. I’ll take it.”
Derrick Rose, who came from very humble beginnings and grew up in a dangerous neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, recalled his favorite gift.
“My mom gave me a used a TV,” Rose said. “It was my brother’s TV so that was the one that stuck out to me right there. I had to be grateful for that.”
BIG NUMBER: 50
DeMarcus Cousins is the fifth player to score at least 50 points already this season, joining Klay Thompson, John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis. Eight is the NBA record for most players with 50-point games in a season, set in 1989-90.