Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: February 11, 8:51 AM ET
Knicks coach: Stop chanting for Melo
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni sent a subtle message to fans on Thursday: Stop chanting for Carmelo Anthony; it's affecting my players.
The Knicks coach said the Garden crowd's chants of "We Want Me-Lo" on Wednesday night had a negative impact on some the Knicks during their loss to the Clippers.
"It's not good. There's no doubt about it," D'Antoni said. "It affects some of the players without a doubt."
Knicks fans started the "We Want Me-Lo" chant with about six minutes to play in the third quarter of the Knicks' 116-108 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday. The Knicks trailed by 16 at the time.
The chants continued in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
The Knicks have made multiple offers to the Denver Nuggets to acquire Anthony through a trade this season. One recent proposal reported by ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard had New York sending Wilson Chandler to Denver and Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota. The Timberwolves would ship Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver.
A Timberwolves source told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher on Sunday that the team would not approve of the deal in those terms.
Broussard also reported that the Los Angeles Lakers and Nuggets have discussed a deal involving Anthony and Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
Anthony hasn't signed a three-year, $65 million contract extension that the Nuggets offered in the offseason. Anthony said on Wednesday that he would consider signing the offer if he isn't traded by the Feb. 24 deadline.
D'Antoni said on Thursday that he has a "fear" that all of the speculation has become a distraction for his players.
"I hate it for them," the coach said. "Because you're banged up and hurting and trying to push through certain things. Psychologically, it's not the best thing at times."
D'Antoni has addressed the issue with his players, telling them to avoid the potential distractions and focus on basketball.
"They have to harden up and harden their skin up and know that, 'I've got to play well.'" D'Antoni said. "That's your job and again, a certain part of you, you hate it for the players. But at the same time, that's part of the business."
The Knicks have lost ten of their last 14. They fell short Wednesday against a Clippers team that came into the Garden without its top scorer (Eric Gordon) and with a 3-18 road record.
The Knicks are 26-25 and face the Lakers on Friday night. A loss would put them at .500 for the first time since Nov. 28, when they were 9-9.
Both D'Antoni and Amare Stoudemire were critical of the Knicks' energy and effort after the loss to the Clippers.
Point guard Raymond Felton echoed those sentiments on Thursday.
"We didn't play with no type of energy. We didn't play with no type of alertness. So he had every right to be angry. I was angry," Felton said.
Felton said that he heard the "We Want Me-Lo" chants from the Garden crowd, but they didn't affect his play.
"Stuff like that don't bother me. I don't worry about that," he said. "The fans, they chant everything. All the chanting and stuff don't bother me. Stuff has been said about Melo since Day 1. It's just one thing [that] goes in one ear and out the other."
Randolph, who has been mentioned in trade rumors involving Anthony, also said he wasn't affected by the fans' chants.
"It doesn't bother me, I've got no reaction to it," he said. "I really don't pay attention to what the crowd is chanting and stuff. I'm trying to focus on the game. ... We leave that up to management to take care of that."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.