NEW YORK –- As the losses continue to mount and their record plummets, the New York Knicks' frustration appears to be approaching a boiling point.
During the Knicks’ 104-85 loss Tuesday to the Portland Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony's patience ran out as one heckler kept letting him and his teammates hear it from behind the bench. Anthony finally told the fan to direct his trolling toward owner James Dolan, who was seated nearby.
Surely Dolan could not have liked this, considering his lack of tolerance for hecklers. By late Wednesday morning, Anthony issued a statement apologizing for telling a fan to go to Dolan to "ask for your money back."
“We are all frustrated by the team’s recent results -- everyone, including me, my teammates, coaches and the fans," Anthony said in the statement. "Last night, a fan and I let those frustrations get the best of us. I should not have responded the way I did.”
Then Wednesday night, Anthony did not attend the team’s annual Knicks Bowl charity event due to personal reasons, according to the Knicks.
Anthony’s frustration on the court is rising and that's completely understandable: For a third consecutive season, the 31-year-old is heading toward an early summer with no postseason. This isn’t what he came to New York for, nor why he stayed.
More and more, Melo finds himself practicing some habits that the Zen Master knows a thing or two about when the frustration gets to be too much. The Knicks star has mentioned after recent losses about decompressing, pausing and taking a deep breath.
“It gets frustrating,” Anthony said after Tuesday's home defeat. “The losing gets frustrating, disappointing. The way that we ended that game was disappointing. At that point [toward the end of the rout], I think my head was in the towel. I was just trying to breathe, just try to relax, kind of gather myself a little bit at that point.”
Anthony, like his teammates, has no answer as to why the Knicks have lost 15 of their 18 games since a Jan. 20 victory that raised their record to 22-22.
Anthony says this season is actually harder than last, when the Knicks tore the roster apart and went 17-65.
“It’s tougher now,” Anthony said. “At least last year, we’re in a situation where we had to start from the bottom, from the ground up. This year we got off to a good start. We had spurts where we were playing very well and we had spurts where we weren’t playing well.
“Everything just shifted all of a sudden for us.”
And, as usually is the case for superstars, Anthony has had to shoulder the daily responsibility of being the face of the team and trying to explain its spiral.
“Melo is in a very different situation [or] spot than any of us can really imagine,” center Robin Lopez said at the Knicks’ bowling event. “There are times on the floor where we are putting a lot of pressure on him where we need him to do a lot of the heavy lifting for us.
“He is in the spotlight in terms of the media and he is the No. 1 guy on the roster. That is a burden that I can’t even imagine. So you have to realize he is going through something totally different than the rest of us. That said, we are with him every step of the way.”
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis has said he hopes the losing does not lead to a frustrated Anthony wanting to be traded.
“You feel bad for your leader,” Porzingis said at the bowling event. “Melo has been doing everything for us -- scoring, rebounding, playing really good -- and we want to step up and play at his level and help him win games.”
For the next month and a half, that is probably all Anthony can ask for. He does not want to see his team completely quit.
“I don’t want to lose the competing at this point,” Anthony said. “If guys don’t want to compete, they shouldn’t play. Whoever that may be. I don’t want to lose that competitive edge as a team because that could easily happen at times like this. We don’t want to lose that.”