- Stephen A. Smith, ESPNNewYork.com columnist
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On Monday night. And, unfortunately, beyond.
Whether it's Jan. 24 or March 26 in Boston, March 31 in New York or possibly in the postseason, the headlines for any future encounters involving Anthony and Garnett won't be limited to the Knicks versus the Boston Celtics.
Let Melo talk all he wants about things being "settled, done and over with," as he tried to explain a couple of days after the incident. But all it shows is that in spite of his years of experience, growth, maturation and success, he still has dire need for improvement in the realm of public relations.
When you're 28 years old, in your 10th NBA season and in line to capture league MVP honors for the first time in your career, no one should need to tell you that waiting outside the opposing team's bus for one of its players and shrugging off your head coach like he's some annoying heckler -- prompting NYPD and Madison Square Garden security to intervene -- while cameras are rolling, no less, is a really bad look. Melo should've known this beforehand.
The league's second-leading scorer should've also known that avoiding the media after the game would only exacerbate the situation. That it would only provoke more inquiry as to what specifically warranted such an outrageous reaction to Garnett's trash-talking, and that it would lead people to wonder exactly what Garnett said, speculating about more than just basketball.
The specifics of the incident didn't have to become everybody's business. All Melo had to say was, "Garnett talks too damn much. He gets on my nerves. I didn't like it. I lost my cool. And I'm sorry because I played bad and we lost."
Instead, Anthony, the husband and father, handled matters in a fashion that some have speculated he would have before he was a husband and father. And because of it, his wife found herself in the middle of the media firestorm, draped on the front pages of tabloids. And when has that ever ended in a good way?
Celtics' coach Doc Rivers was vehement in his support for Garnett, denying Garnett ever crossed the line by saying anything about La La Anthony, telling a Boston radio station: "Guys, you know how this works: A guy does something crazy like Carmelo did, and the way to get out of trouble is to say, 'Well, he said this.' It happens all the time, and what bugs me about this whole thing is this is not a Kevin Garnett issue. And it was made into one, and it shouldn't have been made into one."
KG stormed out of a postgame interview Wednesday night the moment a question about the incident with Melo was broached.
Meanwhile, Knicks players have come to the defense of their own by saying Melo's actions were justified. Coach Mike Woodson has moaned about the need for the league to crack down on the trash-talking. The league itself suspended Melo for Thursday night's game vs. Indiana.
In the end, however, none of the breakfast-cereal jokes are funny. And who's to say what the residual impact will be on Melo and La La and their loved ones? Both are wonderful people, deserving of far more respect for their privacy than one suspects they'll receive in the days, weeks and months to come.
And when that happens, and Melo is looking for someone to blame?
There's always a mirror nearby.
Melo could have laughed it off -- instead, he let KG make him look like a jerk.