Written by: Daniel Ruiz – Staff Writing Intern (@danielruizpoet)
Phil Jackson’s ghostwriter has uncovered a striking truth. Carmelo Anthony, the face of the New York Knicks since 2011, would only be willing to waive his contract’s “no-trade” clause for two teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers. All of this the same week that saw former MVP point guard Derek Rose disappear and a last-second loss to the “re-tooling” Sixers, which sent Melo into a post-game locker room tirade against his teammates.
But the frustrations in the Big Apple are not new.
Last season, after an abysmal loss-heavy start, Phil Jackson fired his protégé head coach, Derek Fisher, beginning an incomplete rebuild of a plagued Knicks franchise. Then, during the offseason, Jackson—an 11-time NBA champion head coach—further exhibited his ineptitude for his new role as Knicks’ President and General Manager.
As Jackson busied himself overpaying players whose primes have passed, rumors circulated about the potential reunion of the 2004 NBA draft class’s future Hall-of-Famers—LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony—for a potential title run. Then, the four friends were seen vacationing together. Then, more importantly, all four appeared onstage at the ESPYs together, calling for social and political change.
Off the court, Carmelo Anthony has utilized his platform in society’s fight against injustice. He has demonstrated his courage, and his commitment to social change is one of the most poignant displays of activism in the sports world today.
On the court, he is a freak-level offensive talent who, when motivated, punishes opponents and surprises critics who see him as little more than a selfish, one-way player.
In his current situation, however, Melo has been subjected to Jackson’s nostalgic clinginess with his past successes. Some of what Jackson says may be valid, and credit must be given where credit is due—especially when it’s due to the winningest coach in NBA history—but Anthony deserves better. Instead of keeping up with the league’s current pace, Jackson has indoctrinated the Knicks with an antiquated system, the triangle offense, which, by all accounts, has not and is not working for them. Jackson’s adherence to this system—hiring coaches who will coach the way he wants, refusing to yield to basketball’s evolution—has overpowered his desire to win. He wants to win his way.
But so does Anthony. He returned to New York for much the same reason LeBron James returned to Cleveland: to bring a championship somewhere he once called home. The Knicks, however, have failed to make it to the NBA finals since he arrived. Moreover, Jackson ignores his voice and publicly criticizes him. Plus, he refuses to interview Carmelo-approved coaching candidates or take any of his suggestions into consideration.
Carmelo Anthony’s reputation as one of his generation’s greats has been cemented. The writing is already on the wall. Whether the allegations that he would waive his “no-trade” clause are true or false, Carmelo Anthony should take a page out of Kevin Durant’s book this time and go to a competitive franchise—like the Clippers or the Cavs—where his skills, his experience, and, most importantly, his voice, are appreciated.