Jim Boeheim and Carmelo Anthony in 2003 (Getty Images)
Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim has long been known for being somewhat … irascible? Is that the nicest way to put it?
He doesn’t often put things nicely, but because he is an NCAA champion all is usually forgiven. New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony led Boeheim’s team to that championship back in 2003, but Carmelo has had a rough go of things in his ten pro seasons following – only twice making it out of the first round of the playoffs. Most stars that fail to make extended playoff runs can usually blame their lacking teammates for that failed advancement, but they typically tend not to in the newspapers.
Why would they, when Jim Boeheim can do the work for them? From the Syracuse Post-Standard, in an interview with Chris Carlson:
"Not on that team," Boeheim said. "He did what he can do. He played very well the final game. Everybody's killing him but Tyson Chandler just didn't try to catch the ball. He threw him the ball and Tyson Chandler went like this (Boeheim dodged in a chair in his office in the Carmelo K. Anthony Center). He was wide open. He should have been looking for the ball right here.
Kenyon Martin should have been looking for the ball. They both went like this (Boeheim dodged again). Carmelo gets turnovers and the announcers aren't smart enough to even think, 'Well, the guy should try to catch the ball.' "
(This is probably ill-conceived.)
"Those guys weren't great players where they were and now they're asking them to be second and third options," Boeheim said. "In Miami the second and third options are Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Your fourth option is Ray Allen, who is still in good shape. Your fifth option is Shane Battier, who is still a good player. The New York Knicks have who?"
"Hibbert is really good," Boeheim said of the former Georgetown star. "(Paul) George is really good. They're all-stars, both of them. George Hill is really good. (David) West is a (former) all-star. That's three all-stars. It's not even close."
There. That’s somewhat better. The Knicks just aren’t an elite team. They were able to pile up wins during the regular season because the schedule ships teams in and out of cities sometimes four times in five-day spans. When faced with a coaching staff and defense that could make denying certain aspects of New York’s attack a priority, though, the team faltered.
And the Indiana Pacers are a better basketball team. Because of Roy Hibbert’s early season struggles and the slow adaptation to life without Danny Granger, Indiana didn’t ring up a ton of early-season wins this year, but there was a reason I picked Indiana to take this series before the playoffs even started, and re-iterated that guesswork prior to the conference semis. They’re growing, while the Knicks have maxed out.
Beyond that disrespect from Boeheim, there’s the personal criticism. Which stinks.
Tyson Chandler gutted through so, so many injuries in 2012-13. We’re sorry that he wasn’t at his most flexible this season – Knick fans and Syracuse coaches – but it’s not very easy to bend over backwards for these supposedly pinpointededly perfect Carmelo Anthony passes with 7-2 Roy Hibbert’s long arms closing in. The Pacers (and Boston Celtics, in their two first round victories) won because they baited Anthony into either one-on-one play (which didn’t work, as Anthony struggled in most fourth quarters during this series), or to disappearing off the ball.
And in the absence of a second star, the Knicks faltered. As should be expected.
Still, Jim Boeheim doesn’t have to get all … Jim Boeheim-y about it.
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