With Phil Jackson Out, Carmelo Anthony Still Undefeated Versus Knicks Rivals
Carmelo Rules Everything Around MSG.
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Phil Jackson has been fired as the President of the New York Knicks, which means it is once again time to acknowledge the fact that Carmelo Anthony remains the undefeated, undisputed champion of Madison Square Garden power struggles.
Melo started winning at MSG even before he was on the team. His desire to come to New York at the trade deadline rather than as a free agent—so he could sign a max deal before the lockout—won out with James Dolan over Donnie Walsh's desire for patience. As a result, the Knicks sent Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton, a first-round pick, two second-round picks, and swap rights to another first-rounder to Denver in order to acquire the right to extend Melo's contract.
That was just the beginning. It wasn't long before Melo won a power struggle with incumbent superstar Amar'e Stoudemire to be "the guy," the one who got the majority of touches and shots and who got to operate from his preferred spots on the floor.
After STAT, Melo clashed with Mike D'Antoni. The Pringles Man wanted the Knicks to play a fast, free-flowing offense based around pick-and-rolls. Melo wanted to catch and hold the ball, survey the floor, jab step, pump fake, jab step again, head fake, jab step some more, and then attack his man one-on-one. D'Antoni wanted to Melo to average triple-doubles and spot up for threes, and didn't even care if he wanted to try on defense. But Melo preferred to go about things his own way, and when he told the Knicks that they had to choose between him and D'Antoni, the coach resigned.
A key figure in the Melo-D'Antoni power struggle was Jeremy Lin. He shocked the world with the outrageous run that became known as Linsanity, and D'Antoni wanted to hand him the keys to the Knicks' offense. Lin found incredible success playing with guys like Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries, and Tyson Chandler while Melo and Amar'e were out with injuries, and was clearly comfortable running D'Antoni's spread pick-and-roll attack. Melo was not happy with the idea of an unknown point guard taking the wheel, and openly called Lin's contract offer from the Rockets "ridiculous." Left to choose between Melo and Lin, the Knicks chose the former.
When Tyson Chandler called out Carmelo for playing selfishly during a playoff series in 2013 and subsequently created friction between the two—friction that started after Melo created drama upon returning to the lineup after the Linsanity stretch—the center was sent packing within a year.
And now, finally, Anthony has defeated the great Phil Jackson. Jackson had his media minions take shots at Carmelo all year. He called Anthony a ball-stopper during an interview with CBS. He antagonized Melo's best friend, LeBron James, who just happens to be the best player in the world, by calling his business partners a "posse." He openly begged for Anthony to waive his no-trade clause and tried to paint Melo as the bad guy in the situation, even though Jackson had given him the no-trade clause in the first place during his first summer on the job.
In the end, it all just hardened Melo's resolve. He was not going anywhere, and he was not going to lose the final Garden power struggle of his Knicks career. Even if Anthony eventually leaves, he leaves having never been beaten. Except on the court, where the Knicks lost a heck of a lot.