Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trash talk

Phil Jackson has his Zen and his triangle and all those rings Kobe and Shaq and MJ won for him, but these days he has something far less glittering: A mean spirit.

Ever since the dubious architect of the New York Knick(ed)s re-signed Carmelo Anthony, he's been bashing Anthony, even as the Knick(ed)s star has pretty much taken the high road. Now Phil's done it again, weighing in on a Bleacher Report column that takes his side in the escalating and mostly one-sided feud.

The column, which frankly reads as if Jackson himself dictated it, casts doubt on  Carmelo's desire to win, a pretty egregious slur. Phil then tweeted his kudos, comparing Carmelo to former Georgetown star Michael Graham, a troubled soul who played for Jackson during his CBA days, argued with him during a game and was cut.

All of this seems grossly unfair to Anthony, who's only averaging 22.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists for the calamity of a team Jackson's built around him. He can hardly be blamed for the Knicks' 22-31 record, although Jackson seems mightily to be trying.

And why is that?

The theory is he didn't want to re-sign Anthony to begin with, that he got forced into it by his owner. So because Jackson caved (and come on, he's Phil Jackson, do you really think he couldn't have talked his owner out of re-signing Anthony if he'd really tried?), he's taking it out on Anthony.

And that, frankly, is profoundly unfair. Not to say gutless.

If the Knicks are a Hazmat site right now, after all, much of the blame falls on Jackson. What of substance, after all, has he done in New York? Outside of signing rising star Kristaps Porzingis, his resume is emptier than Betsy DeVos'.  But it's all Carmelo's fault?

Look. If Jackson doesn't want Anthony, he should man up and say so. Passively-aggressively smearing the guy until he finally gets sick of it and requests a trade (Anthony has a no-trade clause in his deal) exhibits a lack of character, and it's beneath a man of Jackson's stature.

If, that is, he's truly deserving of that stature.

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