A few days after Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks in Feb. 2011, his former Nuggets coach George Karl took a shot at him, calling out one of his biggest flaws.
"You have to handle what Melo gives you," he said during an "NBA on TNT" broadcast. "I'm not knocking Melo. He's a great offensive player. Melo is the best offensive player I've ever coached, but his defensive focus, his demand of himself is what frustrated us more than anything."
Then Anthony fired back on Twitter, saying, "Damn R U Serious. Some people never seize to amaze me. Unbelievable. When the grass is cut, the snakes will show."
Karl's positive-negative stance on Anthony continued several months later, which triggered Kenyon Martin to say that Karl was unfairly characterizing Melo as as being a selfish player while he was in Denver. (Melo and Marin were teammates there.).
Well, that vibe from the ex-coach resurfaced on Monday during an interview on "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. Karl said that while Melo has championship pedigree, he needs to re-focus himself and become a more consistent player.
"I definitely think Carmelo Anthony is talented enough to win a championship," he said. "I've always said that once he gets that being the goal, winning a championship being the only goal on his plate, he will figure out how to get it done. I think he's one of the most talented offensive players playing in the game of basketball, and he can do every aspect of the game. It's just that when is he going to commit to doing them every night."
Out of the five times Anthony went to the playoffs with Karl (from 2005 to '10), he only led the Nuggets beyond the first round once. In New York, it's been the same situation.
But based on how Melo adapted to Mike Woodson, during the Knicks' 18-6 stretch to end the season, there is promise for next season. He made a living in his hot zones (the midrange and post) and shot a very respectable 47 percent. He passed the ball well (3.5 assists per game) and defended consistently (1.3 steals) -- even locking down opposing power forwards.
However, in order to focus on a championship, as Karl mentioned, Anthony and the rest of the Big Three are going to have to prove they can work in a system together.
That's how title teams are born. With a full season finally ahead -- there's no Melo midseason trade coming and no lockout -- this is the Knicks' best chance at getting it right.
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