Who could have predicted that meditation was one of the many ways to show the decline of the relationship between Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony?
Neither Jackson nor Anthony are part of the New York Knicks anymore, but the unique disintegration of their relationship is still a major story for the team despite their departures. And one story hidden in a story from ESPN’s Ian Begley says that Anthony would fall asleep during meditation sessions Jackson had with the team.
Going the extra mile to get a competitive advantage over others is nothing new in sports, and Jackson clearly thought meditation is the answer. But if you don’t take it seriously, you can end up, well, snoozing. And that’s apparently exactly what happened.
Keep in mind the level of involvement Jackson had in his last season in New York — even to the point that he was personally running practices to refine his triangle offense, and it makes a bit more sense as to why some Knicks players like Anthony had enough.
During his final season with the Knicks, Jackson presided over mindfulness meditation training with the players, as he had done with the Lakers and Bulls. The intention was to instill a measure of mental discipline, arming the players with exercises to calm themselves in high-pressure and volatile situations.
During the sessions, Jackson instructed the Knicks to sit on the edge of their chairs, eyes closed, and count to 10. Breathing in and out, the objective was to clear the mind. They repeated the process several times. Some players were dutiful in the exercise, some indifferent and some downright mocking of its worth, team members said. As Jackson’s relationship with Anthony deteriorated, so did Melo’s commitment to mindfulness training. In the final sessions, witnesses said, it became common for Jackson to tell the players to open their eyes at the end of the exercise, only to find Anthony’s head tilted back, eyes still shut, seemingly snoozing.
There are no winners in this story, and in the end it’s Knicks fans lost out the most. But it is so fascinating to see all the reasons why it didn’t work in New York. Anthony and Jackson were so divided near the end that stories like this seem silly, but it shows just how far checked out he was, and the impact it had on the Knicks was clear.