PHIL Jackson believes that Carmelo Anthony, labeled as the scapegoat of the troubles surrounding the New York Knicks, can become the Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant of the storied franchise.
In an interview with Charley Rosen of ESPN.com, Knicks president Jackson said he believes his 31-year old star can assume the same role Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls and what Bryant currently does for the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Melo is a leader by example," Jackson said, "not by exhorting his teammates. He's also very into the triangle, and with a better supporting cast he has every chance to be the MJ and Kobe of our offense."
Despite coming off knee surgery that limited Anthony to 40 games in 2014-15 that ended in a dismal 17-win season, the 11-time NBA champion coach predicts big things for the former Syracuse product despite their disagreements on the progress of the rebuilding Knicks.
On the second year of a five-year, $124 million contract, Anthony has been skeptical of the Knicks development, and according to reports felt "hoodwinked and betrayed" after Jackson drafted Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in the draft before backtracking and calling the Knicks’ top selection “a steal.”
The highest profile player who is also the one paid the most on a team that has struggled to compete in the past two seasons, Anthony has borne the brunt of the criticism.
Jackson has used psychology to motivate his players and the approach helped him win multiple titles with the Bulls and Lakers. By comparing Anthony to two of the best players he’s ever coached, the Zen Master is hoping Anthony would prove himself once more.