Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony Will Prove Their On-Court Rivalry Is Very Real
And it's going to show.
Though all opposing players arguably "hate" one another during the course of a game, the rivalry between Melo and Garnett is more potent because it's personal.
That whole night, Melo and Garnett jostled for position in the post. They threw elbows, checked shoulders and even went nose-to-nose a time or two. Ultimately, Garnett's Boston Celtics got the best of Anthony and the New York Knicks on their own turf, something Melo won't take too kindly to. And that's in addition to how he feels about Garnett crossing a line with his wife.
So yeah, Melo's animosity isn't going anywhere. And neither is Garnett's.
Are we again to believe that one of the most emotional players in basketball is ready to forget Anthony got in his face on the court? Or that he followed him toward the locker room? Or the team bus?
Both players are adults (or so they claim), but beefs of this magnitude don't get squashed overnight.
That is why I refuse to buy into Anthony's notion (via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com) of there being no "bad blood" existing between him and Garnett:
On the eve of the New York Knicks' rematch with the Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony says he has no problem with Boston big man Kevin Garnett.
"It's no bad blood, no grudges between us (or) anything like that," Anthony said after practice on Wednesday. "I don't hold no grudges or have any bad blood towards the guy."
Anthony doesn't anticipate any carryover from his confrontation with Garnett.
"On my end, there's nothing left over," he said on Tuesday.
You know, I'd totally believe Melo—if I were an idiot.
Bad blood exists between the Celtics and Knicks to begin with. These are two division rivals with a long history of despising the other, a disgust that shined through in only their first meeting, not even including the Anthony and Garnett debacle.
When the foundation for "bad blood" is already there, it's not going anywhere. Not when these two factions have disliked each other for seemingly forever. Not when the Knicks are where the Celtics are supposed to be now (at the top). And most certainly not when Anthony and Garnett's conflicts went beyond the court.
Doc Rivers only added fuel to the fire (Melo's fire) when he accused (via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News) the star forward of fabricating the entire incident:
There are unconfirmed reports that what set Anthony off was Garnett insulting Anthony’s wife, TV personality, La La Vasquez. "That did not happen," Rivers added.
In defending Garnett, Rivers claims that the story of Anthony defending his wife’s honor was an attempt to rationalize Anthony’s behavior.
"Guys, you know how this works," Rivers told the radio station. "A guy does something crazy like Carmelo did, and the way to get out of trouble is to say, 'Well, he said this.' It happens all the time, and what bugs me about this whole thing is this is not a Kevin Garnett issue. And it was made into one, and it shouldn't have been made into one."
Is Anthony going to take kindly to such a recount? Of course not, he's going to take exception to Boston's assertion that he was essentially an irrational psychopath.
Will this matchup once again come close to blows? Perhaps not, but those same elbows are going to be thrown, those same shoulders are going to be checked and trash (a lot of trash) is going to be talked.
Garnett now knows that he can get under Anthony's skin. With Garnett whispering (or yelling) in his ear, Melo's frustrations culminated in a 6-of-26 showing from the field. Are we to actually conclude he's not going to attempt to do the same again?
Maybe Garnett will avoid any General Mills-related comments, but that's about as filtered as he'll be. He wants to win and is willing to do whatever (or say whatever) it takes to make that happen.
Then you have Anthony who, whether he admits it or not, is desperate to avenge the loss to the Celtics, a game the Knicks arguably lost because he couldn't find the basket. He's going to want to redeem himself, to drain jumpers in the face of Garnett.
Sure, we're weeks removed from the emotional and physical dispute these two engaged in, but the footprints of its existence remain.
Anthony is still attempting to regain the $176,000 in wages he lost from his suspension, the Knicks as a convocation aren't past the fact Melo missed a winnable game in Indiana, and all parties involved continue to face a battery of questions on the matter.
Oh, and there are also some newly-designed t-shirts that Boston fans will certainly be donning in mockery of Anthony and in support of Garnett.
Have the players said the right things? Have they devalued the essence of a strife they consider solved? Have they attempted to diminish the importance of the brawl that nearly was?
Three times over, yes.
But that means nothing here. If we're to honestly believe that the "heat of the moment" mantra applies here, then we must understand that "moment" wasn't fleeting. This rivalry between the Celtics and Knicks—and Anthony and Garnett—still very much exists. Accepting otherwise is futile and, well, definitively incorrect.
Melo isn't about to forget (completely) what he believes Garnett said. It's not in his nature. That very passion he displayed less than a month ago tells us that much.
Have Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett completely buried the hatchet?
And Garnett isn't going to change; that scathing mouth of his isn't going anywhere. Just ask Tim Duncan. Or Charlie Villanueva. Or even Joakim.
"We want to win,'' Anthony said (via Begley) on facing the Celtics again. "Do we owe them? Yes, they came here and beat us. We want to go there and return the favor on their court."
Garnett came in and rode Melo into the ground, and that's yet another "favor" he'll look to "return" as well. And it's one Garnett will look to combat by using any means he considers necessary.
So yeah, this rivalry hasn't gone anywhere.
As we will come to find when Anthony and Garnett take the court for the second time this season, it's only just begun.
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