Orlando- Area reporters at the New York Knicks shootaround on Tuesday afternoon were treated to an impromptu and somewhat candid interview with star forward Carmelo Anthony who, while cajoling his teammates from the sidelines, admitted to reporters that "defense is really hard, dog."
Anthony, 27, has been considered among the league's top offensive threats throughout the entirety of his career, but his play on the other end of the floor has often left many wondering if his true potential can ever be fully realized. Seemingly aware that his detractors take the position that he's lazy, Anthony was assertive in his own defense. "Like, it's easily the hardest part of the game for me," the 8 year pro offered, before adding, "I mean, you don't even know what the other guy is going to do, and then he just does it, man. It's pretty live out there."
Drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 2003 as part of the class that also included Lebron James and Dwyayne Wade, Anthony was viewed by scouts to have the physical frame that would be complimented by his complete package of skills, yet first the Nuggets and now the Knicks have been left wanting on the defensive side of the stat sheet. "Scoring has always been easy for me, man." announced Anthony, who stands to miss 1-2 weeks with a groin injury he sustained in his recent game against the rival New Jersey Nets. "I think it goes back to when I was a kid in Baltimore, shooting hoops alone. I mean, I never had to play defense against myself, so maybe that's like, the root of the problem."
Anthony's self examination provided little clarity into his lengthy history as a defensive scourge, as it had been widely known since at least 2007 that working without the basketball was, for him, no less than a mild source of grief. Then, in a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs, Anthony became so frustrated with his own inabilities that he elected to punch Manu Ginobili in the face as he drove effortlessly and repeatedly to the left around Anthony. When asked about that incident, Anthony got a faraway look in his eye, and simply stated that he "had to get out of there, dude. For real." Former Spur Steve Novak stood within earshot of Anthony and offered some semblance of justification to Anthony's method for wrangling the wiry Argententian swingman. "I had to practice against that guy, man. It's like trying to catch jelly with a fishing net."
Despite the potentially admirable desperation of Anthony's attempts to play defense at any cost, there was still an absence of any real explanation as to why. As various members of the Knicks and Magic practiced on their respective ends of the court, Orlando guards Jason and Quentin Richardson (no relation) overheard and offered their opinions on the struggles of not only Anthony, but myriad players around the league. "Well, it's like this." Jason began, gesturing his hands in such a manner as to draw attention away from his lunacy. "When I was on Golden State, we had to play defense during games sometimes. One thing I found out though, is that if you don't play it, you get the ball back like, super fast, dude." he concluded, before turning to Quentin who added "Yeah, and nobody ever scored no buckets playing no D." Seemingly nonplussed at his own attempts to elaborate however, he quickly assured gathering reporters that he had never actually played defense himself, so it wasn't fair to talk, probably.
Small talk amongst members of the media did provide some insight to another school of thought however, that viewed Anthony in a slightly more cynical light. "Numbers just don't lie." asserted Bill Gruber, a local beat reporter and stat hobbyist who drew upon Anthony's notoriously low volume scoring outputs in order to assert comically, yet with a very serious poker face, that Anthony was indeed a top defender in the league. "Carmelo has been something like a basketball Sarlaac for the entirety of his career. Possessions may yield points over the course of a game, but the percentages just suggest that, more often than not, he gets the ball and the team's chances of victory are slowly digested over a thousand years. The algorithms are right there, man."
Carmelo did little to refute the statistical evidence against him though, when Gruber was able to catch the forward in a lull between questions, Anthony simply replied "Algorithms? Nah, man. I don't like jazz."
It was an answer explained nothing, and yet everything.