New York Knicks: The Truth About Phil Jackson’s Carmelo Anthony Comments

New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson may have been wrong to critique Carmelo Anthony on a television program, but he wasn’t wrong in what he said.


Though it’s been put in quotation marks by a number of different publications, Phil Jackson never actually called Carmelo Anthony a ball hog. The New York Knicks team president spoke about Anthony’s tendency to hold the ball for too long, but that quoted phrase wasn’t actually a real quote.

If you don’t believe that, you can watch the full video for yourself:

Not a single mention of Anthony being a, “Ball hog,” yet multiple media outlets have quoted Jackson as using those very words.

Jackson spoke about the fact that the Knicks have a rule that no one is supposed to hold the ball for more than two seconds. He then said that Anthony has a tendency to hold the ball for three-to-five seconds and allow the opposing defense to reset.

According to NBA.com, Anthony is attempting 10.8 field goal attempts per game after holding the ball for upwards of two seconds.

Statistically speaking, Jackson was correct.

Furthermore, Anthony is shooting 45.3 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-point field goals and 14.0 percent on pull-up 3-point field goals. More applicably, he’s shooting 49.2 percent from the field when he holds the ball for less than two seconds.

Those numbers drop to 37.7 percent when Anthony holds the ball for two-to-six seconds and 42.9 percent when he holds it for more than six seconds.

The bigger divide comes in the fact that Anthony is shooting 56.5 percent on 2-point field goals when he holds the ball for less than two seconds. He’s down to 42.3 percent when he holds it for two-to-six seconds and 47.5 percent when he holds the ball for more than six seconds.

If that’s not enough, Anthony is shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point range when he holds the ball for less than two seconds.

He checks in at 16.7 percent and 11.1 percent in the other two referenced instances.

If you’re a fan of advanced metrics, Anthony has an eFG of 60.2 percent when he holds the ball for less than two seconds. He checks in at 39.2 percent when he holds it for two to six seconds and 42.9 percent when he holds it for more than six seconds.

Thus, one can’t help but ask the question: in what way was Jackson’s criticism founded in anything but statistical fact?

Anthony is a better and more efficient scorer when he’s less hesitant to score. He’s more than capable of attacking in isolation, but the numbers display just how much better he is when he gets the ball and reacts to what’s in front of him instead of stopping and thinking.

Thus, while Jackson may have been in the wrong to discuss this publicly, he wasn’t factually wrong in what he said—or, for that matter, insulting Anthony.

Anthony is brilliant without my outside advice, but Jackson’s debatable approach doesn’t change his valid points. Anthony would benefit from holding the ball less and either shooting, passing, or putting the rock to the hardwood once the ball comes his way.

For the sake of the Knicks and Anthony’s remaining untapped potential, one can only hold out hope that he’ll overcome any understandable frustration and see the truth in Jackson’s comments.

One can also hope that the media will report actual quotes instead of twisting words and expressing what they think an individual really meant.

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