Carmelo Anthony isn’t a coach killer

AP Photo/DayLifeWhen a coach is suddenly fired in the middle of the season. The questions immediately fly to why. What could have broken down so much in the middle of the season that could lead a team to make the sudden and drastic change of changing the voice in the locker room.

Rare is it when this is a good thing. And rare is it when the team’s star player does not have a hand in the ultimate upheaval.

This is the Knicks though, and nothing with the Knicks right now seems easy.

After making the surprise dismissal of Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks seem in as much disarray as ever. The warm feelings of Linsanity have passed and the reality that the Knicks are a middle-of-the-road Eastern Conference team that is struggling to make the playoffs is beginning to set in. And the team’s struggles since acquiring Anthony in that blockbuster trade last year have to be making the higher ups uncomfortable.

Anthony is a bigger investment, and so D’Antoni is the one that had to go first.

Still, the fans are going to take that reasoning and look toward the high-paid superstar for an explanation. And maybe assign some blame. That is just how these things go.

Anthony may not have been the reason D’Antoni and the Knicks decided to part ways, but as the team’s star, highest paid player and captain, he is the one everyone looks to. Give Anthony credit for denying and being willing to take the blame — even if he actually does not deserve it.

“I think it’s false,” Anthony told Al Iannazzone of Newsday in Long Island, N.Y. “Me and Mike talked constantly about trying to find out different ways in what I can do and what we can do as a team. It wasn’t working. We lost games, and when you lose games, people say it’s not working, and of course the blame is on me. As far as the system working for me or not working for me, it worked in the Olympics when we won the gold medal. I’ll take that.

“If I’m the one that messed coach Mike’s system up, if you all want to blame me, I’ll take it, along with everything else.”


Anthony never seemed like a natural fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. D’Antoni made his name in Phoenix with a point guard who could dominate the ball and run the pick and roll efficiently. Anthony is more of a ball dominator and one-on-one player, not a pass-first guy like Steve Nash or Jeremy Lin (at least early on in his career). Anthony struggled to get his teammates consistently involved in Denver and continued that struggle in New York.


Reuters Pictures/DayLifeThe fact is, Anthony and D’Antoni may have had a fine relationship, but Anthony never fit with D’Antoni. And D’Antoni may have always resented the roster management gave him.

It was not much of a secret after the trade last year that D’Antoni was not thrilled with the assets New York gave up to acquire Anthony. Former general manager Donnie Walsh was not happy that ownership wanted to more or less gut the team to get a star player like Anthony. And don’t forget the Nuggets are fighting for a Playoff berth while the Knicks are struggling.

The team’s struggles clearly continued to drive a wedge between Knicks management and D’Antoni. An “I told you so,” of frustration could have been working in the back halls of Madison Square Garden. And when you complain to your boss in that manner, you are probably not going to be there much longer.

Did Anthony have a role in D’Antoni’s departure? It does not seem like he did. By all accounts, Anthony did not go and ask the Knicks to fire D’Antoni. 

But Anthony’s style of play and management’s obsession with acquiring him and using their highest paid player probably began to undo D’Antoni’s authority with the team.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily