As the time for NBA franchise to make moves looms near, yet another New York Knick is coming to defend teammate Carmelo Anthony and his stay in The Big Apple, this time coming from the team’s most zealous defender — Lance Thomas.
Thomas offered that despite all the commotion surrounding the Knicks this past season, Melo was not the problem, citing “rebellion from the top’’ as a cause to Phil Jackson‘s obsession with the triangle offensive system, which has caused rancorous feelings for the 10-time All-Star.
“I love him here,’’ Thomas told Marc Berman of The New York Post in his first comments to the media since a season-ending injury in Utah on March 22, which caused him to disappear from the locker room. “I love him as a teammate, love him as a competitor, love him as a person. Everything else is out of my control, but his approach has always been great.
He’s an amazing professional. I’m not going to comment on what’s happening with him and the organization and trade rumors. I just know I love him as a teammate. I want it to work out.’’
Thomas cited Anthony as “one of my best friends,” and emphasized the Baltimore native has the deep “respect” of all his teammates in the locker room and on the court.
“Carmelo fights for his teammates,” Thomas said. “He loves to win. Every player in this league, when losing happens, frustration builds up and we’re in the biggest market in the world. Everything is under a magnifying glass here. But he has a passion for winning and bringing it under the biggest microscope. He’s embraced New York and has fought for the Knicks for so long. He’s done an amazing job remaining healthy and being a class act when things have been in an uproar for our team. I can only applaud his approach in everything he’s done — all of the white noise around him.”
“He’s done a great job of being a professional and remaining a leader for our team. For me to watch him go through it, for the younger players to see the level of focus, putting all that stuff aside and remaining a veteran leader for the team, I can only hope that when I become a veteran later in my career, my teammates have utmost respect for me the way we have for Carmelo.’’
It’s yet to be seen if Melo will drop his no-trade clause when pinned against the wall — but it won’t be his teammates pushing him out of town — and unlike years ago as he looked to part ways with the Denver Nuggets — he won’t be the one looking like the bad guy in this dire scenario.