Carmelo Anthony Has Chance to Be Jordan, Kobe for Knicks, Says Phil Jackson

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2015

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2015 file photo, New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony smiles during the second half of the NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, in New York. The NBA star announced Thursday, June 11, 2015, that he is bringing a professional soccer team to Puerto Rico for the first time in three years. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony has become a lightning rod of criticism for the New York Knicks, but team president Phil Jackson believes big things are in store for the 31-year-old. 

Speaking after a disastrous 17-65 season about the entire Knicks roster to Charley Rosen of ESPN.com, Jackson said he believes that Anthony can play the role that Michael Jordan did for the Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant did for the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Melo is a leader by example," Jackson said, "not by exhorting his teammates. He's also very into the triangle, and with a better supporting cast he has every chance to be the MJ and Kobe of our offense."

Anthony has a lot to prove next season after playing just 40 games in 2014-15 due to a knee injury that required surgery. There's never an opportune time for a star player to miss time, but this instance was particularly damaging because he was in the first year of a five-year, $124 million contract (via Spotrac). 

The relationship between Jackson and Anthony has been a hot topic, with Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reporting in July that Anthony was "skeptical" of the Knicks' slow rebuilding plan. 

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported during an appearance on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio show (via NBC Sports' Dan Feldman) after the draft that Anthony was "livid" and felt "hoodwinked and betrayed" by Jackson. 

Anthony downplayed any drama on Instagram, per CBS Sports' Matt Moore, calling New York's top pick, Kristaps Porzingis, "a steal."

By virtue of being the highest-paid player on the team and face of a franchise that has struggled to win the previous two years, Anthony has to carry the Knicks' burden whether it's fair or not. 

Jackson's comments, while not likely to help because Jordan and Bryant are two of the best players in NBA history, could be used as extra motivation for Anthony to prove last year was a fluke and there is plenty of gas left in the tank.  

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