Tuesday, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson did something he rarely does: he tweeted. In this case, he tweeted his agreement (sort of) with a story written by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding that, among many things, questions Carmelo Anthony’s will to win.
Bleacher's Ding almost rings the bell, but I learned you don't change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 7, 2017
Jackson’s tweet publicly drew a parallel to Michael Graham, a stud at Georgetown who earned a reputation as an aggressive, physical big man helping propel the Hoyas to a 1984 NCAA Championship victory as a freshman.
Graham never panned out as the NBA talent many pictured, though, and went on to play 11 games in the Continental Basketball Association for the Zen Master’s Albany Patroons. After a mid-game altercation on New Year’s Eve in 1986, Jackson cut him from the team.
Jackson detailed his thoughts of Graham in his memoir, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.
“Nothing I said made any difference,” he wrote. “Whenever I tried to talk to him, his eyes would glaze over and he’d retreat to some dark inner corner nobody could penetrate.
“Here was a kid who was born to play basketball, someone who had enough talent to be a star in the NBA, and yet despite all my sophisticated psychology, I couldn’t reach him.”
The Zen Master’s Tuesday comment is the latest of a ramped up effort to push Anthony to waive his no-trade clause before the Feb. 23 deadline. It’s also the second story tied to Jackson in the new year to suggest Anthony is doing more harm than good in New York.
Earlier this season, Jackson said in an interview with CBS Sports that Anthony had a tendency to hold the ball too long. The two later met to talk things through.
In a January column for FanRagSports, Jackson’s ex-assistant coach and close friend Charley Rosen blasted the Knicks star for his ball-stopping tendencies and lack of effort on the defensive end.
“The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York,” Rosen wrote.
Shortly after, Anthony and Jackson met, with New York’s seventh all-time leading scorer reiterating his desire to remain and win with the Knicks. But he later provided a caveat, according to Newsday’s Al Iannazone, conceding that if the franchise entered a full rebuild, he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause.
Since then, Jackson has reached out to the Los Angeles Clippers regarding a deal that does not involve their core group of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. He reached out to the Celtics to no avail and, most recently, tried to convince the Cleveland Cavaliers to part ways with Kevin Love — yet another rejected trade.
All of Jackson’s efforts have come up empty, and it is unclear how much value the Knicks can get in return for Anthony, who missed the All-Star game for the first time since 2010.
The only thing that is certain is that Anthony controls his destiny in New York, whether Jackson likes it or not.