Carmelo Anthony again took the high road in his feud with Phil Jackson, dismissing the team president’s latest slight while trying to inject humor into the chaos.
The Knicks star also pushed back at the idea that Jackson’s critiques are somehow a motivational tactic.
“I’m self-motivated,” he said after scoring 28 points in a 119-115 loss to the Clippers. “I can get myself motivated. I don’t need that.”
With a cryptic tweet Tuesday, Jackson insinuated that Anthony lacks the desire to win and make his teammates better. The point of the tweet was that Jackson can’t change Anthony, but of course Jackson missed the point and put his star player on blast.
“I learned you can’t change the spot on a leopard,” Jackson wrote.
Anthony, who, according to Yahoo!, is only more compelled to stay with the Knicks because of the Jackson feud, responded with humor.
“He got the animal wrong,” said Anthony, adding that Jackson has not attempted to change him as a player. “My favorite animal is the black jaguar. He got the animal wrong.”
Still, Anthony has clearly had enough of the public shots from Jackson.
“I think anybody would get tired of it if you went to work every day and you had these spats about you, eventually you’ll get tired,” he said, “unless you’re as strong as I am, know how to deal with it and move on from it. But I think anybody, any human being, at some point in time, will start feeling a way about it. Can’t cry over spoiled milk.”
Asked if he still believes in the mantra he repeated multiple times last season – “Trust in Phil” – Anthony smiled and said, “I did say that huh. You got me. You got me. …I trust the process.”
There’s the star player and the team president feuding. Then there’s the man caught in the middle, Jeff Hornacek, who said Wednesday he expected dysfunction surrounding this franchise and, “It’s living up to the billing.”
Since Jackson doesn’t speak to the media or answer follow-up questions to his tweets, Hornacek was again left to explain his boss’ latest jab. For the most part, Hornacek steered clear of taking sides, except to applaud Anthony’s winning desire and declare “we” don’t want him to be traded.
The “We” probably doesn’t include Jackson.
“Carmelo’s got the voice to that. He’s got the no-trade (clause). So he can do whatever he wants,” Hornacek said. We would love to have him here. I think he’s a great player. He’s performed well for us. He’s been great with the coaching staff and everything. So that’s the way we look at it.”
Hornacek did call Jackson’s tweet a “distraction.”
“If anything, it’s a distraction,” he said. “Just like anything else, I think you guys might write or talk about, we talk with our guys. We can’t worry about that stuff. You just got to go out there and play. And sometimes things bother guys more than others. Usually it’s Carmelo that’s getting most of the stuff. But like I said, he’s handled it well and I expect him to come out tonight and be really focused, like he was this morning.”
Predictably, Jim Boeheim backed his former Syracuse player but also believes Anthony should – and would – leave to a better franchise, specifically the Cavaliers and the Clippers.
“I think they (the Knicks) have to make a move (to trade Anthony). It’s just not going anywhere,” he said. “I think he’s playing as well as he can play but they can’t go anywhere. And I’d love to see him get an opportunity to play with somebody that could win. I mean, that would be great. He’s got a couple, two, three really good years left.
“I’d love to see him, he loves New York, he’s tried everything he can to help New York win. They just haven’t been able to put a good team together. Obviously he gets the blame for it, that’s what happens when you get paid the most money, but there’s a lot of blame to go around in New York, I think, based on what I watch. But I’d love to see him get to a team where he could get an opportunity to play and have a chance to win. I would love to see that for him.”