Mike D'Antoni and Carmelo Anthony in giddier times (Getty Images)
A long ride down in an empty elevator, and a long walk down a hotel corridor toward a team meeting might be the first step in repairing the relationship between New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, and former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. It may have been uncomfortable, as the two paired up inadvertently before hitting the meeting room to discuss plans for their roles on Team USA, but it might be an opening to a repaired and functional … nah, they're probably never going to get along again. It was nice to consider it, though.
Anthony and D'Antoni hadn't spoken since a Carmelo coup of sorts influenced the Knicks and D'Antoni to part ways early last spring. D'Antoni's resignation was forced, and it turned out to be the best thing for the team — as interim and eventually full time head coach Mike Woodson led the then 18-24 Knicks to an 18-6 end to the season. This disparity only came in part because Anthony actually committed himself to playing sound ball on both ends of the court for Woodson, a style that we're pretty sure D'Antoni attempted to get him to work at. Whatever the fallout, the two are somewhat attempting to make it work together in London. From the New York Post:
"I was on the elevator and he was coming onto the elevator,'' Anthony said. "We didn't have much of a conversation. Then we walked to the meeting, then talked about it. It could have been an awkward moment, but it never was.''
Playing for D'Antoni again has been free of controversy. Anthony thinks D'Antoni's speedball system is perfect for this squad.
"It's been good,'' Anthony said. "He's been Mike. His system is what we run here. It works best for us. We've been running the system four, five years now. He controls the offense, Nate [McMillan] controls the defense. [Jim] Boeheim controls the zone. He gets no love because we ain't runnin' no zone.''
And the Knicks aren't running much at all, with D'Antoni's up-tempo offense shoved to the side in New York.
(Also, I love Carmelo's take on the Team USA coaching setup. Mike D'Antoni controls the offense, Nate McMillan mans the defense, Jim Boeheim runs the zones, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski is apparently just there to sell a lot of shoes.)
Sadly, we have to re-iterate that dumping D'Antoni turned out to be in New York's best interest. Anthony was clearly frustrated in his system, and the team was struggling to mix his ball-needy ways with that of fellow scorer Amar'e Stoudemire. Woodson's ascension also paired with injuries to offense-first players like Stoudemire and guard Jeremy Lin, and with Anthony taking over at power forward and fully engaged the team suddenly became a defensive powerhouse — stuck at 10th in defensive efficiency the day D'Antoni walked away, but vaulting up to fifth to end the season after just 24 games under Woodson.
Though Team USA has its holes and potential weaknesses, it should be noted that the squad could hire a disapproving Vanessa Bryant as an assistant coach and that it probably wouldn't affect the team's chances at a gold medal. D'Antoni, for one, has every right to be cross at Anthony — it's not like he was telling his former star to be a ball stopper on offense and work indifferently defensively. The former Suns coach has a bed defensive reputation, but it's not he ignores it completely.
Elsewhere in Marc Berman's article, he mentioned Anthony's take on his short meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama following Team USA's win on Sunday:
After a photo of the pair hugging appeared on the front page of yesterday's Post, Anthony revealed Michelle Obama whispered nice words of encouragement to him in the embrace.
"She told me to continue being happy and keep smiling,'' said Anthony, who is known being carefree on the court. "She's a Melo fan.''
Isn't that sweet. And all that from a five second interaction! I'm sure she told every other Team USA star that made his way toward her that it was very nice to see them, but that she was a "Melo fan" above all.
The New York Knicks, for the 45th season in a row, are going to be very fun to cover this year.
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