The New York Knicks looked like an actual professional basketball team on Friday night in dispatching the Denver Nuggets, 117-90. Star forward Carmelo Anthony was his usual dominant self, scoring a game-high 31 points despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
But controversy is always in the air at Madison Square Garden—Melo felt the need to clarify a recent meeting with Knicks owner James Dolan, per the Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring:
Yes, a player should be able to meet with his team's owner from time to time. But when that player is free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony and that owner is the notoriously moody and unpredictable James Dolan, people are going to take note.
The meeting was already a hot topic among the New York press, with Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reporting on Thursday that the two had discussed the future of embattled Knicks head coach Mike Woodson:
James Dolan’s visit to the Knicks’ locker room late Wednesday included a high-level meeting with Carmelo Anthony and at least one other player to discuss the state of the club and whether a coaching change is necessary, the Daily News has learned.
According to a team source, Dolan is obviously troubled by the Knicks’ 19-30 record and is contemplating removing head coach Mike Woodson. The Knick hierarchy is divided on whether Woodson has lost the locker room and the chairman of Madison Square Garden was wise to take the temperature of the franchise player. Dolan, though, also runs the risk of alienating Anthony if the public perception is that the All-Star forward, who is extremely sensitive to the notion that he is a “coach killer,” is at all responsible for running Woodson out of town.
Indeed, Anthony caught a great deal of flak from the press in 2012 when they believed Anthony was acting behind the scenes to remove head coach Mike D'Antoni. Writers like ESPN New York's Johnette Howard were particularly scathing in their indictments of Melo:
What Anthony's behavior suggests is that he exquisitely understands a little about Power Dynamics 101: When you know your owner, James Dolan, overruled his front office and head coach before trading for you, and that same coach is now a lame duck, it's obvious who's going to be around for the long haul. And it ain't him.
So Anthony seems to be biding time as much as anything. He's irritated at the criticism he's catching as he waits for Dolan to act, and now he's tossing banana peels in D'Antoni's path when he can as well.
Melo was portrayed at the time as a conniving, Machiavellian fiend, destroying the Knicks from within.
But times have changed since the D'Antoni firing. Anthony had the finest season of his career in the 2012-13 season, winning the NBA's scoring title and leading the Knicks to their first playoff series win in a decade.
This season, Anthony has been the lone bright spot on a dreadful New York team. He has scored more than twice as many total points and grabbed twice as many total rebounds as any other Knick, per Basketball Reference.com. He broke the franchise single-game scoring record with 62 points on Jan. 24.
He is essentially the one and only reason to watch this current Knicks squad.
If Mike Woodson is fired, few Knicks fans will blame Carmelo Anthony. They will be too busy celebrating.
Woodson should have been fired weeks ago. His poor coaching is one of the biggest reasons the Knicks are losing games, despite Melo's brilliance.