Things couldn’t possibly get worse for the 4-19 New York Knicks, right? Think again. Less than 48 hours after Phil Jackson said New York has “a loser’s mentality” comes a report of widespread dysfunction throughout the Knicks’ locker room, highlighted by Carmelo Anthony threatening to “beat up” Tim Hardaway.
The sprawling story is courtesy of ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
After Hardaway yelled at his teammates for failing to secure a rebound in last Tuesday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Anthony reportedly took exception. On the way down the floor, New York’s superstar threatened his sophomore underling with physical harm:
The New York Knicks were en route to their fifth straight loss last week against Brooklyn when a frustrated Tim Hardaway Jr. screamed angrily, “Get the rebound!”
Certain his second-year teammate was speaking to him, Carmelo Anthony approached Hardaway on the way down the court and used an expletive to ask Hardaway who in the world he thought he was talking to.
Anthony, according to sources, used another expletive in telling Hardaway he was going to beat him up when they got into the locker room after the game.
The two never came to blows, and Broussard quotes an anonymous source insisting that strife among players has never been anything more than verbal. A clash between Anthony and Hardaway has apparently been imminent for some time, however. The two have been at odds since the Michigan product joined the team last season, with each believing that the other plays selfish offense and ill-attentive defense.
Of greater concern for New York long-term is that problems with Anthony don’t end with Hardaway. According to the report, a group of teammates recently spoke with the seven-time All-Star and accused him of putting himself before the team:
Several Knicks, in addition to Hardaway, are at odds with Anthony and believe he is not playing team basketball. Sources said players voiced their displeasure with Anthony over the weekend, telling him he shoots too much, doesn’t move or pass the ball, and plays defense only when he feels like it.
But this wouldn’t be the Knicks if the triangle offense wasn’t an issue, either. First-year coach Derek Fisher and Jackson have been insistently optimistic regarding implementation and eventual in-game comfort with the scheme. Apparently the players, though, are growing increasingly weary of struggles they believe are associated with the triangle:
One thing Anthony and his teammates do agree on is their disdain for the triangle offense, sources said. For weeks, if not longer, the players have been ready to ditch the triangle and move on to another system. They feel like other teams know what they are going to run and where they are going to go on the court, which makes it easier to stop them.
After New York’s latest loss, Fisher penned the following scripture on the locker room white board: “The pain you’ve been feeling cant compare to the joy that is coming.” Instead of pumping sunshine during such dark times, however, Fisher’s players would reportedly prefer a more contentious approach to the team’s woes. The ever mild-mannered Fisher has been exceedingly stoic on the sidelines despite New York’s historic futility:
“They almost want to see Fisher get upset during a game,” one source said. “They want to know that their coach will go to battle with them, that he’ll fight for them. They’re not seeing any emotion out of him.”
Anyone believing the Knicks could be playoff contenders this season was fooling themselves. They not only lack the talent befitting a solid team, but the experience and nuance, too. Those intangible aspects are rearing their ugly heads now.
Is this doomsday for the ‘Bockers? Not quite. But the slim hopes of luring an impact player like Marc Gasol to Manhattan decrease with every loss, and certainly with reports of widespread of dysfunction like this, too. Anthony is a Knick for the long-haul, so it’s not time to panic…
Yet. If Carmelo grows progressively disillusioned and Fisher doesn’t get more comfortable grasping the pulse of his team, though, there’s reason to believe New York’s nadir could last more than one season.
What do you think?
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