Carmelo Anthony explains why Phil Jackson failed with Knicks


JJ Redick may have summed up Carmelo Anthony's journey in New York more appropriately and succinctly than I ever could.

"As your peer and as a fan of basketball... on the outside, I'm like, man, this is like a dream come true," Redick said on the latest episode of "The Old Man & the Three," featuring Melo as a guest and reflecting on when Anthony was first traded to the Knicks. "And it looked like it was for a while. And then it kind of turned into a nightmare."

A dream come true sounded about right. After all, Anthony was finally leaving a Nuggets team that had held on to him for quite some time despite his well-known unhappiness with the situation. He was headed to a big-market organization in his prime to join the newly acquired Amar'e Stoudemire -- who was also seemingly in his prime -- and wreak havoc in the Eastern Conference.

Anthony felt the excitement for the first few years with the team, but the situation he expected to find himself in quickly began to dissolve, especially after a loss to the Heat in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

"The year after that, they plucked a piece away, and they plucked a piece away, and they plucked a piece away," Anthony said. "And before you know it, I'm there. And I'm just there... I'm there in New York and having to figure all of this out."

And a lot of that change occurred due to the Knicks' hire of Phil Jackson in 2014 and the subsequent dismantling and reconstruction of the team he now controlled. Certain pieces -- guys that Anthony liked having as teammates -- just didn't fit in the offense that Jackson wanted to run.

"So he started slowly picking the team apart and fitting in his pieces that he felt would work in that triangle, but also we were in a pivotal time in offense... because the triangle -- it works, but now the game is getting faster, guys are getting quicker, guys are jumping out of the gym. It's like, no, we can't slow it down when we've got a fast break. We can't play in the two-guard front when we've got Derrick Rose and Raymond Felton here. You can't do that."

The Knicks' offensive rating plummeted, from third in the league during the 2012-13 season to 29th in the league in 2014-15. Acquisitions like Joakim Noah, at least to Anthony, seemed like they were all part of an attempt to slow the offense down.

"That's where you see guys (weren't) comfortable in that situation, and I was one of them," Anthony said. "But because I wasn't comfortable, I decided to give it a chance. Let me figure this out. Let me really learn the triangle, let me study the triangle."

It got to the point where Anthony knew the triangle offense extremely well, even discussing the strategy behind the game plan with Kobe Bryant. But it just didn't work, and for many reasons. For one, Jackson's role wasn't direct enough.

"Phil, you (weren't) the coach," Anthony said. "Because you (weren't) the coach, it wasn't going to run the way you expected it to run. If you want to coach, you come down here and coach and we would listen. We can run this triangle all day long.

"There wasn't (any) pushback. Guys (were) unhappy, guys didn't want to do it, but it wasn't like 'nah, we're not doing this.' Because, again, it works, but when you're playing that way a whole 48 minutes, teams make adjustments. You're not making (any) adjustments, you just keep playing that way."

It was easy to defend, it was predictable (as Redick said) and it continually failed to produce results. And while it didn't necessarily hinder Melo's performance -- he averaged 24 points per game on 44.1% shooting from the field and 36.5% shooting from deep -- it sunk the Knicks to new lows in the East. They went 80-166 under Jackson.

Anthony wasn't the only unhappy party, either, as Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis openly expressed their dismay with the system. And a lot of that had to do with Jackson's tenure, which is unanimously remembered poorly.

"People don't understand," Anthony said. "I've been in New York for seven years, seven-and-a-half years. I've played for maybe four or five different coaches. So there was never (any) consistency. We couldn't grow, we couldn't build. I played with over 100 players, I had over 100 different teammates in seven years. Three GMs. Three presidents.

"And that's why... Phil takes most of the brunt of it. Because it all started when he came."

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