Carmelo Anthony came to New York with the reputation of a fantastic scorer who didn’t give enough effort in other facets of the game.
Mike Woodson, though, says that he’s never seen the player that fits that description.
George Karl may disagree, but Woodson was speaking solely from his experience with Anthony.
“I thought they bought in right away, especially Melo -- he just went to another level,” Woodson said. “He's been consistent all the way up until this point. It's beautiful to watch because ... for me, he's been everything and much, much more.”
A prime example came with under a minute to play in Tuesday’s Knicks-Nets game.
With the game tied at 97-97, Anthony drew the attention of two Nets defenders and gave the ball up. A few passes later, the possession ended with a game-winning 3-pointer by Jason Kidd.
The play led Woodson to describe Anthony as “the MVP” of the league after the game.
On Tuesday, with Smith and Ryan Ruocco, he expanded on Anthony’s maturation this season, calling his scoring prowess and willingness to share the ball a “deadly combination.”
“He's starting to make that next step,” Woodson said. “The step is that he knows he can get it done when he needs to, and he trusts guys around him. Now, when he's double teamed, and it's not his [shot], he's got to get the ball to other people and trust that they make the play. That's a deadly combination.”
Woodson also addressed his relationship with D’Antoni as the ex-Knicks coach prepares to bring his new team – the Lakers – to the Garden on Thursday night.
“I have a great deal of respect for Mike D'Antoni and I have a great deal of respect for the coaches around him when he came to New York to try to get things done,” Woodson said.
D’Antoni resigned in mid March. The Knicks are 34-11 in the regular season since Woodson took over. The Lakers are 4-8 under D’Antoni.
“Sometimes things don’t work out in sports,” Woodson said of D’Antoni’s Knicks tenure. “I’ve been on both ends, winning and losing. For Mike, I wish him nothing but the best. He was good to me. He gave me an opportunity to continue to coach. And, I did everything I thought I could to help and support him while I was here. When he got the Laker job, I was very excited about him getting an opportunity to coach again and I still feel that way.”