In the media, we have our own version of the Triangle Offense. The foundation, simply, is that there are three sides to every story: your version, my version and the truth.
Carmelo Anthony has seen this before so it came as no surprise to him on Tuesday when he saw on the ESPN crawl a quote attributed to him claiming he was “the most underrated superstar that’s out there.”
It’s certainly not a controversial statement. In fact, it’s fairly accurate.
The only issue I had with the comment was he should have said “most unappreciated” instead of underrated. But that’s just editing.
The issue came when he backtracked from the comment when asked by reporters who cover the team to explain why he felt that way. Melo said, “I don’t feel like that,” and pointed to the interviewer, ESPN’s Chris Broussard, as the one who created the conversation and “took it and ran with it.”
In Melo’s defense, there were two factors that were overlooked in his initial statement, which he said was merely echoing a question. He said it with his usual smirk and laugh and immediately followed with, “but that don’t matter to me.”
Of course it does matter to him, but it’s not a front-burner concern for the seven-time all-star, who knows he has the highest respect of his peers as one of the game’s great scorers.
It’s moments like this that will send more and more athletes to Derek Jeter’s new venture, The Players Tribune, which he created to, as the website says, “present the unfiltered voices of professional athletes.”
What wasn’t written, but very clearly stated, on Jeter’s website introduction is that this “new media platform” is the first shot fired in a revolution to eliminate the need for sportswriters.
Jeter, however, made a point to deny that as a guest with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday night.
“This is not trying to eliminate the sportswriters,” Jeter said. “I mean, the sportswriters are what makes sports great and fun to watch . . .”
Really? I thought it was moments like your final at-bat that made sports great and fun to watch. Sportswriters bring it to life and tell the story behind the moment and bring you inside the game. Sportswriters teach the game, explain the whys and the hows and offer provocative perspectives that create fun debate.
At least that’s what the good ones do.
Shortly after he insisted he wasn’t trying to make extinct a profession that just spent the last six months canonizing him, Jeter went on to explain why the website is, intentionally or not, designed to eliminate the need for sportswriters and other media.
“Athletes have a lot of opinions on things,” he said. “Sometimes, taking with athletes from different sports, they get a little hesitant to speak their minds because they don’t know how it’s going to be portrayed.
You always hear people say, ‘Well, that was taken out of context,’ but now it gives them an opportunity to say exactly what they want to say.”
Be careful what you wish. And, by the way, what Melo said WAS unfiltered. That’s what makes it so interesting.
In his conversation with ESPN, Melo also took a jab at sportswriters — or was it mainly at the Slide-Rule Sloaniacs who employ prosecution data? Perhaps the click-hungry websites that create arbitrary rankings of players? — whom he basically said lived vicariously through the players.
[That part probably offended some in The Fourth Estate, but we’re not going to climb the soapbox of sanctimony here, lest we forget the Twitter snark produced daily by media about athletes for the sake of a few RTs and LOLs.]
For the record, it is indisputable that Melo, one of the great talents of his generation, is underappreciated by a great deal of the national media and fans both in and out of New York. And while he’s only human for recognizing it, believing it and perhaps being motivated by it, we’re naive if we think it actually bothers him on a daily basis.
“I’m not even thinking about it,” Melo said on Thursday (yes, three days later he was still being asked about it). “If I’m thinking about that, I’m losing focus on the task at hand.”
The task, of course, is to win. And when that comes, so does the recognition. And appreciation.
Which leads us to a quote everyone ignored from Melo that provided the best perspective. Perhaps it’s what he should have said from the start, when Broussard first asked the loaded question.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “you get what you deserve.”
- has spent most of the camp installing his defense — “If we practice three hours, two of it is on defensive mindset,” Melo said — which is not just theater for the media. There is good reason for the Knicks to make sure their defense is on point right from the start of the season, because the Triangle Offense, a variable-laden, intricate system, will take a while to click with the players. The Knicks will need to rely on good defense early on during the transition. Sound familiar, Giants fans?
- Keep an eye on Tim Hardaway Jr. as a potential candidate to start in the backcourt with Jose Calderon. The All-Rookie selection developed an understanding of the Triangle in summer league play, so he is ahead of the curve. Plus his perimeter shooting fits the needs of the system while J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert make a good uptempo wing duo in the second unit.
- The players on Monday night watched a screening of the Michael Rapaport/Doug Ellin documentary, “When the Garden Was Eden,” which is based on the great book by former Knicks beat writer Harvey Araton and part of the ESPN 30-for-30 series this fall. Phil Jackson wanted the players to start off camp with a strong sense of the championship history this franchise has and the tradition that goes beyond the 1990s and the more recent struggles during the 2000s that most of the players recall. Jackson also invited Willis Reed, the venerable Captain, to camp to interact with the players. A great idea.
- The Knicks completed training camp at West Point on Friday and will continue practicing at MSG Training Center on Saturday. Their first preseason game is Wednesday against the Celtics at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. We will have coverage of the game and NYK Extra postgame on MSG Network.