Carmelo Anthony 'Refused to Run' Phil Jackson's Triangle, Says Charley Rosen

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2017, file photo, New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony looks on during a break in an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia. Phil Jackson may be trying to trade Anthony because he's given up trying to change him. That seemed to be the conclusion when the Knicks president of basketball operations broke his Twitter silence with a tweet that was another dig at the star forward.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

According to longtime Phil Jackson confidante Charley Rosen, Carmelo Anthony could have been Michael Jordan.

If only he'd have listened to Jackson and run the triangle offense. 

"Carmelo undercut him, telling [Kristaps] Porzingis not to say anything in public about how good the triangle was," Rosen told Marc Berman of the New York Post. "Carmelo refused to run the triangle—which is why Phil re-signed him: There was a lot of pressure from [owner James] Dolan. But if Carmelo would've run the triangle, he'd be open on the weak side.

"He'd have to pass and do this and run around, but he'd ultimately have a whole side wide open—16-17 feet away from the basket. The defense would be too far away to double. He'd have open jump shots and was one or two dribbles from the basket. He'd be a killer. He'd be Michael Jordan. He'd be unstoppable. But Melo was catch-and-shoot and didn't want to do other things."

While Rosen may have a fine overarching point that Melo's career would have achieved greater heights with more structure, the comparison here is wildly unfair. The Knicks never provided Anthony with a teammate even close to the stratosphere of Scottie Pippen (or Shaquille O'Neal or Pau Gasol, if we want to include Kobe Bryant's best teammates from Phil's Lakers days).

Carmelo is also just not in Jordan's league from a talent perspective. An offensive structure is not nearly enough to turn a top-50-to-75 player into the greatest of all time. The supporting cast around Melo was never close to adequate enough for a deep playoff run. 

Then there is the argument against the triangle itself, an antiquated, highly structured system that does not lend itself to the free-flowing modern game. Jackson also tried to force the Knicks to run the triangle despite not having the talent to do so properly.

It's highly revisionist to suggest running the triangle would have made any difference in Jackson's tenure as Knicks president, which is widely considered a colossal failure.