By John Schmeelk
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We heard from the great and mighty Phil Jackson on Tuesday for the first time since late December. When the missive arrived from the mountain top it was greeted with some confusion.
Behold the words from the great Zen Master:
Met with confusion, the words were quickly deciphered by leading experts. Kevin Ding, you see, is a writer for Bleacher Report who had recently penned an article about Jackson and Carmelo Anthony. The basics premise of the piece is that Anthony does not care about winning a title, and that Jackson thought he could motivate him to become a true champion.
In short, Anthony is not a winning player. When Jackson signed him and gave him the no-trade clause he thought he could turn him into a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant to help bring the Knicks to the promised land. In retrospect, the article states that Jackson was wrong and he wanted Anthony to be a winner more than Anthony wanted to be a winner, himself.
This whole thing is rather insulting to Anthony. Instead of maintaining his silence, Jackson decided to endorse the story and take another public shot at his superstar. Jackson also denied the one barb thrown his way in the article, saying he thought he could change Anthony. Of course, he never explains why he decided to give Anthony a new contract and a no-trade clause if he thought that he was a losing player and wouldn’t change. If all those things are in fact as Jackson describes them, he is a worse general manager than any of us thought.
The second part of his tweet is even more disparaging. Michael Graham was a player Jackson coached when he was in the CBA. He was someone Jackson could never reach, despite his talent, and had to release him. To compare Anthony to a journeyman headcase CBA player is not only factually specious, but is also a huge slap in the face to a player that has had a good level of success in the NBA.
It’s absurd and one of the most unprofessional displays by a sitting GM that anyone has ever seen. This is the third time this season that Jackson has taken shots at his best player through the media. It’s unprofessional, mean-spirited, and uncalled for.
Everyone that has read this column before knows my issues with Anthony. His defense is atrocious due to a lack of focus and effort. He does tend to stop the ball on offense. He does not lead effectively. In short, Anthony is not a perfect player.
However, he has a lot of value. His strengths and weaknesses are not a surprise to anyone in the business of basketball. We’ve known about them for a long time.
None of those flaws makes it a good idea for Jackson to go out and destroy his star player publicly.
Despite the constant barbs, Anthony has acted like a pro. He has handled all the questions from the media and has resisted lashing out at his boss in response. He has stayed loyal to the Knicks and the city despite the fact that his boss is treating him like the second coming of Eddy Curry.
Jackson is turning Anthony into a martyr.
Besides being unprofessional, Jackson statements are something else: stupid. Jackson is basically devaluing the same player he is trying to get opposing teams to give him assets for. Imagine this phone call:
“Hey Danny Ainge, Phil Jackson here.”
(Deep sigh) “Hey Phil.”
“Let’s talk about Carmelo Anthony. I think he can lift your team to a championship level. You know, Danny, there are few people that understand what it takes to win a title than me. Did you know I won 13 rings with the Knicks, Bulls and Lakers?”
“Yeah Phil, I remember.” Ainge’s voice has no lack of sarcasm.
“How about Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and a lottery protected first-round pick?” Phil asks.
“Wait Phil, you just wrote this guy doesn’t care about winning. I’m trying to catch the Cavs here and beat LeBron James. If this guy isn’t a winning player why would I give you all that for him?”
“I’ll give you Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller and a second-round pick. That sounds about right for a ball-stopping, no-defense playing loser. At least that’s how I see him after hearing you describe him after being around him up close for three years. Deal?”
What the hell is Jackson supposed to say that? He has publicly destroyed the player he is trying to move for no reason at all. It’s insanity. He is working against the interests of his own player and franchise. It is one of the dumbest things I have ever seen a GM do, and I lived through Isiah Thomas for six years.
When does Anthony say enough is enough, and either demand a trade or even outright refuse to play? That will make it impossible to get fair value for him in a trade. It will also make it impossible to wait until the summer to move him when a better deal might become available.
At some point, James Dolan has to say enough is enough. Jackson has to go. He’s a train wreck. Other than the 2015 draft, nearly every move he has made has been a bad one. He is more than 80 games under .500 over three seasons, despite the fact he has put together three distinct and different rosters along the way.
Jackson is bad at his job. He has turned into the crazy man in the corner house that sits on his porch and chases kids off his lawn. Anthony, apparently, has removed himself.
Thanks to Phil’s utter insanity.
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