NEW YORK — At some point during the Knicks’ ongoing struggles last season, Kobe Bryant approached his dear friend Carmelo Anthony and asked him one simple question.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Anthony had clashed with Mike D’Antoni when he coached the Knicks last season over his offensive role. The “Linsanity” sensation caused further resentment since it coincided with Anthony sitting out a good chunk of that time with a groin injury. So Bryant implored Anthony to still tap into his scoring tendencies the same way the Lakers’ star does.
That’s why Bryant found some irony surrounding Anthony’s perception as a player after scoring 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting in just 23 minutes before spraining his ankle in the Lakers’ 116-107 loss Thursday to the New York Knicks.
“He’s playing the way he’s always played throughout his career,” Bryant said. “He’s in an environment where they celebrate that and encourage that. He is being who he is.”
He then chastised the New York media.
“The organization surrounded him with pieces that allowed him to do that and now all you guys are celebrating him,” Bryant said. “God bless you guys.”
Yes, plenty has changed surrounding the Knicks. They remain the Eastern Conference’s best team with a 17-5 record under Mike Woodson. Anthony ranks second the league in scoring (27.9 points per game) behind Bryant (29.3), while showing a stronger commitment to defense and passing. The Knicks feature two dependable point guards (Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd).
Bryant suggested Anthony has a stronger piece of mind these days.
“Last year was very tough for him because he got criticized a lot for shooting, playing the way he likes to play,” Bryant said. “And then the whole Linsanity thing happened and everybody said, ‘They’re better without Carmelo’ and all that nonsense. You guys put the hammer on him and as a result, he kind of got a little gun shy, a little self-conscious.”
That was hardly the case for Anthony against the Lakers. He opened the game with 22 first-quarter points. Anthony hit three consecutive three-pointers in the first two minutes. He bulldozed past Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard into the lane for a two-handed dunk.
As Bryant summed up best, “He was sensational.”
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