Weird news out of New York today where, apparently, James Dolan has taken to recording all in-game conversations between Carmelo Anthony and opposing players.
Per ESPN New York:
Owner James Dolan ordered Madison Square Garden technicians to place two microphones on opposite ends of the court, a move league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard was put in place in order to protect Anthony.
It is not clear whether the recordings will continue, but sources tell Broussard that any move to paint them as Dolan "spying" on Anthony is "flat-out wrong."
It all sounds a little Orwellian at first, but Dolan's head appears to be in the right place. His team has been burdened by off-court drama throughout his tenure, and Carmelo Anthony's latest snafu—a confrontation with Kevin Garnett that resulted in a one-game suspension—has been bantered about incessantly since taking place. The Knicks are having a remarkable year on the court, and he wants to prevent all possible attention from diverting in other directions.
But even though his motives are noble, Dolan could be doing himself, and his superstar forward, more harm than good with these recordings.
Carmelo Anthony has enjoyed a basketball renaissance this season, but his league-wide reputation is still in flux. His manner and machismo were simultaneously called into question after brawling (ironically) with the Knicks in 2006. Video of the incident, shown below, records Anthony losing his temper and throwing punches that were equal parts unnecessary and emasculating—the worst of both worlds.
Anthony's manhood became a punchline after his "punch and backpedal" routine, something that encourages players like Garnett to goad him in the first place. That his boss is now protecting him by recording all trash talk should only amplify that problem.
When a kid gets teased on a playground, it's natural for his mom to want to intervene. But signing up to be a lunchtime monitor and watching her son like a hawk doesn't keep him safer—it only ensures him an extra-atomic wedgie once recess is over.
I'm not implying that Anthony is in any physical danger—he's not at all. And he's not necessarily being "bullied," either. But at some point, Carmelo needs to be able to take care of Carmelo. He's been famous since he was a teenager, so obviously, his maturity is a little stunted. But the guy is 28 years old now—he doesn't need mommy hovering around to make sure everyone treats her little angel with respect.
Fighting is never the answer; I would never insinuate that he needs to prove he's a man by engaging in fisticuffs. Anthony needs to prove he's a man by tuning out the detractors. Trash talk is part of the game; Carmelo needs to be the bigger man.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but Carmelo needs to take a page from his friend LeBron James' book. He's been on a goodwill tour over the past year or so, working hard to repair his broken image by keeping his nose out of off-court kerfuffles and handling his business like a man on the hardwood.
That James Dolan wants to help his superstar get to that point is admirable. But this bizarre move could hurt more than it helps.