Zeke vs….Greg Anthony?!?

Marty Burns had a great bit today at CNN/SI about Isiah Thomas going off on Greg Anthony today about Anthony’s comments regarding the Balkman pick on draft night.

Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize with Zeke in the sense that I, too, thought Anthony was way off base (I think I even mentioned it here at the time), in that, whether the Balkman pick was good or not, Anthony wasn’t giving the pick enough thought, choosing instead to just make knee-jerk comments that amounted to “I never heard of the guy, so he must be bad.”

Therefore, I was okay with him saying “This so-called former Knick, on draft night with millions of people watching, had the audacity to take me to task on a player that I’m pretty sure he had never seen before in his life, But he stands on national television and talks about a kid he has absolutely no idea about. I’m just glad that all of New York doesn’t think like Greg Anthony.”

I think it’s probably better to let sleeping dogs lie, but that comment was pretty fair, I think.

However, Isiah then followed with “Greg Anthony should never ever be in a position to question myself on anything about basketball. I do remember the kind of player he was. I’ll leave it at that.” That was way too much, highlighting a problem Isiah seems to have where he seems to personalize criticisms way too much.

Apparently, he peppered shots at Anthony throughout the press conference. Here’s Burns on it:

When asked whether he could see Balkman someday defending LeBron James or Tracy McGrady, Thomas replied, “Wait a minute, hold on now … you can run him out there but he’ll probably get stepped on a little bit … Unlike Greg Anthony, I do have respect for others.”

When asked about the Knicks’ dismal season a year ago, and what role all the injuries played, Thomas said, “We all were in a funk last year … Greg Anthony was in a funk.”

Later, when talking about Balkman’s ability to handle the ball, a reporter jokingly asked if he had a better handle than Greg Anthony. “Most definitely,” Thomas said. “Greg could only go left.”

Nuts, eh?

Anthony wouldn’t comment, which is good on him!

By the by, speaking of Balkman, Marc Berman had a line in his blog the other day that I thought was a bit much, where he stated that what Thomas SHOULD have done was draft Marcus Williams at #20 and Balkman at #29. Now, clearly, we all would have liked that, but that’s taking for granted that Balkman was not going to be picked, which (while not saying he officially WOULD have been picked) is something Berman should have at least made clear he was assuming. You know, something like, “It was likely Balkman could have been available at #29, so Thomas should have drafted Williams at #20 and Balkman at #29.” Without the qualifier, it’s not giving the facts, I don’t think.

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26 thoughts to “Zeke vs….Greg Anthony?!?”

  1. How did Thomas become the face of the franchise? His lack of tact is a disgrace. In fact, I would like to see some measure of humility from him. After all he is no position to be sitting on such a high horse.

    I think it should be a requirment for a man in his position, or forget that, just Thomas – to enroll in pr courses at Hunter College.

  2. Sometimes the traits that help people become great in one setting are dysfunctional in other settings. Thomas’s tendency to personalize every criticism is precisely what makes it so easy to take advantage of him in negotiations.

    As for Greg Anthony, what Riley era Knicks fan doesn’t have a healthy hatred for him? Only within the last few years have I stopped waking up in the middle of the night screaming, “Quit f^&*%$’n dribbling the ball and pass it to Patrick!!!” But at some point we all have to let it go… Just let it go…

  3. Greg Anthony went to TV because his basketball career was over. To rip a hall of famer is out of control. Being one of the greatest basketball players ever Isiah has the right to rip this unintelligent Greg Anthony.

  4. Do you actually believe that? So every Hall of Famer is beyond reproach?

    Greg Anthony’s criticisms were poorly thought out, but Thomas’s reaction was extremely immature, especially since he is a GM and a coach.

  5. Maybe one of these days 2 weeks might go by without Isiah Thomas totally embarassing himself. FI-RE THO-MAS

  6. Isiah might want to be careful. Anthony has a record of sucker punching point guards while he’s in his street clothes.

  7. Gregs comments were made because he didn’t know of Balkman and had to fill the space with….SOMETHING…live TV and all.

    More importantly…Did anyone notice how gross the back of David Lees head looks after he works up a sweat? It looks like David Carradine in Kill Bill volume 2 when he’s talking to Black Mamba outside the church before the deadly vipers whack everyone. And what’s with that new haircut? Is he channeling Luke Walton, or what? Kids these days with their crazy styles and transistor radios.

  8. Look Isiah is doing this to back his players. It’s just part of the plan he has to build trust with his players. He’s using the circle the wagons approach and any chance he can get to further that goal, he will take it. This is what will make his players run thru walls for him. They like him and they believe that he’ll always have their back.

    It’s working too. This team is doing things that NO ONE thought they’d be able to do. Sharing the ball and running a motion offense. VERY LITTLE dribbling! I mean come on! When have we seen this group play this unselfishly. I fully support Isiah and his right to make dumb comments on behalf of team unity.

  9. That’s a good point Nixluva. Although…it’s probably best to wait until they start playing some real games before we go evaluating the success of anything. ;-)

  10. Hey Nixluva,

    Lets wait and see them do it for 10 or 15 games against some NBA first-stringers.


  11. Way to go Isiah. Somebody has to take charge. As bad as the knicks were last year, what other former knick got negative publicly with zeke after the disaster done by some other former coach.This knick team will have some tough games ahead but it’s gratifying to know that the players have a coach that support them. Give Isiah the credit he’s do for choosing Balkman. He’s awsome.

  12. They were really making Balkman and Isiah look bad on draft night. Why is it ok for them to throw daggers and not Isiah? You dammend if you do dammend if you don’t in my opinion. Balkman was embarassed and Isiah is taking up for his player. I see no problem with zeke doing this and will contiune to be confused by the people who think other wise.

  13. Responding to the specific criticisms of an “analyst,” especially one like Greg Anthony or Stephen A. Smith is one thing.

    Criticizing the announcer personally is another. It’s really about what the person said, whether it’s true, not about the person. Amazingly childish.

    Attacking a former player for criticizing his old team is just absurd. Isiah just continues to amaze me.

  14. I’m just glad that this year, the head coach is standing up for his players instead of humiliating them in public. And anyway… Greg Anthony was a mediocre NBA player, and as an announcer, he’s just another muppet.

    Not like Isiah is above criticism (when has that ever been the case?), but he can rip someone back if he feels like it. I have no problems with Isiah’s response to the type of knee-jerk/brain-dead color commentary that so often passes for sports journalism.

  15. What a dope Isiah is!! Regardless of whether or not Balkman turns out to be a good pick, the point should be that he wasnt going anywhere on the draft board so why would you use such a high choice on him?? The fact that Thomas cant grasp that logic is probably why 1) the Knicks will be under .500 again this year and 2) why he was rumored to have lost so much money gambling!
    Let him have his rant… He needs any victories that he can possibly get

  16. Greg Anthony is as mediocre as an announcer as he was at being a basketball player. The only thing he’s known for is fighting the Phoenix Suns. As a man if somebody insults my intelligence and I want to respond then that’s what I’ll do regardless if the public disagrees. Because when it all comes down to it Greg Anthony and his ESPN cohorts were basically callig Isiah stupid on draft night. Balkman is going to make them all look like fools.

  17. Greg Anthony has a right to his own opinion about the team even as an ex-Knick, and Isiah’s emotions seems to have got the best of him. Isiah Thomas just can’t handle criticism, and for him to use ‘Greg as an ex-Knick’ is just an excuse to bash the guy. Frankly, I think Greg is honest and downright articulate.

  18. As I mentioned earlier, I think there is a big difference between calling out an analyst you think did a bad job analyzing your team (which Thomas did at first, when pointing out that he was irked that Anthony criticized Balkman without probably ever seeing him play and/or not knowing the situation behind why Thomas picked him there) and just going to personal insults, like, “Greg Anthony wasn’t a good basketball player, so he can’t talk about me!”

    The former, I feel, should still be mostly avoided, but the latter should definitely be avoided.

  19. I dislike Isiah as much as the next guy. But the only thing he’s had success with is the draft. That being said if he had Balkman as the best available on his draft board why not take him? If he ranked Mardy Collins higher than Williams why not take him? We didn’t need another guard like Williams, we need high energy guys who can defend.

  20. I’m paraphrasing here, but at least some point this season, Zeke said the team had to develop and “us vs. them” mentalit — that the team needed to circle the wagons, etc. I highly doubt that this was anything other than Zeke reinforcing to the team that everyone (i.e. the tabloids, ESPN, the nat’l sports media) is out to get them/considers them a joke. Of course the ad hominem attacks on Anthony’s PG sills are weird and out of place. Of course a broadcaster/analyst should be free to criticize his former team (Bill Walton, Hubie Brown, Kenny Smith, etc .hold no such allegiances to their old units) It’s a calculated move meant to send a messagage to the Knicks that one, he’l fight for them (literally) and two, that they need to develop a quasi-paranoid attitudee w/r/t the rest of the league and/or the media.

    This shouldn’t be surprising since this was what worked for Isiah when he was in Detroit. The “Bad Boys” (and yes, that nickname does seem quaint 15+ years later) played pissed off. They weere better than the sum of their parts mainly because they wanted to hurt other teams/played with a chip on their shoulders/were out to prove they belonged. The standard bearer for this attitude was not Mahorn or Laimbeer, but Isiah Thomas. Recall the race-infused feeding frenzy that went down when Rodman commented that if Larry Bird was black he’d be “just another player” and the hubub when Isiah refused to refute the Worm. It’s the attitude that you’ve got your teammates’ back, even if what he said was just plain wrong and probably born out of the frustration of getting whupped by a lily-white team in a historically/supposedly ‘racist’ town like Boston.

    Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I think we’ll see more tirades like this from Thomas in the future, where he seems to be irrationally flying off the handle (like his not-so-subtle threat of Bill Simmons last year [of course I assume that most people secretly want to throttle ‘The Sports Guy’, but that’s just me..]). I just don’t think ANYTHING Thomas says in public isn’t calculated. He’s not talking to Anthony. He’s talking to Marbury, Francis, Curry et al. Whether it works is another matter entirely.

  21. Nice comment Ken. To add to Isiah’s history, remember the bridge he burned with Jordan after refusing to shake hands after a playoffs lost.

    Isiah’s moves are that of a desperate man, because attacking the press isn’t usually a smart move (unless your name rhymes with Phil Barcels). Other than your record, there isn’t a bigger way to loose your job (than maybe dating the boss’ daughter – although that seems to have worked for Phil Jackson). The press can rally the people, and the people can hurt the owner’s wallet. However since Isiah is already vilified in the press, in his eyes it doesn’t matter.

  22. As little this entire fued means, it is very easy to see where it is coming from. while these two men butt heads we must realize their motives. isiah will always be one of the most fierce competetors of all time. Although Greg Anthony’s career cannoy hold a candle to isiah’s he has found his niche in NBA media. It’s no secret that Greg wanted the Knicks GM job that was available during the 2003/2004 season. It is also no secret that greg takes every single oppurtunity he can get to take shots at the knicks. Whether it be the dismal state the franchise has been in since the team from across the river stole the wind out of Madison Sq. garden during the 2004 playoffs, or if it’s nit-picking every single one of Isiah’s questionable moves. Regardless Anthony shouldnt be so bitter and Isiah shouldn’t be so immature. As far as us fans go, we should realize this; Isiah was dealt the biggest mess in sports, and it’s not becuase of him that we are where we are as a franchise, it’s simply not.

  23. Vescey argued in his last column that he thinks the feud goes back to when Greg Anthony made some comments about Isiah during the All-Star Game (which Isiah was coaching) that pissed Isiah off.

  24. Hey guys,

    Am I alone in thinking Zeke needs to shut up already about his childhood? Whenever he’s even approached with anything difficult, that’s the first thing he always reverts to. Things like “I had it hard” and “growing up where I grew up” just drive me crazy. Having a tough upbringing doesn’t make you impervious to mistakes, and he certainly has proven that he knows how to run an operation into the ground.

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