By Rob Mahoney
Carmelo Anthony seemingly suffered one of the strangest injuries of the NBA season on Monday night when he appeared to trip over his own feet at midcourt. But context on Anthony's bizarre fall is now emerging. Knicks head coach Mike Woodson joined Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on 98.7 ESPN New York to talk about the team and was asked about Anthony's injury, which allowed him to explain what caused Melo's exit from the game and possible absence going forward:
Did Carmelo Anthony bail out of the game against Cleveland before falling and did he use that fall as an excuse to leave the game?
“I definitely don’t agree with that. Carmelo Anthony has been a driving force for what we have been about since I have been here as a head coach. … I wish you wouldn’t even think that way, that he walked off. … The game was out of hand, but 22 points in this league is nothing. I’ve seen teams come back from that deficit. Melo was hurting, and for him to ask me to come out of the game before he even took that spill made me realize that something wasn’t right. He’s never, ever, ever hinted about coming out of the game. I play him too much in that regard. Melo is a trooper. He’s a warrior. He’s a tough kid, so we read you when you say something like that.”
So if Carmelo Anthony asked you to take him out of the game, why didn’t you when he asked?
“I should have. But stubborn coach, I just didn’t. We’re down 22, I’m going to leave one of my best players in the game. Maybe I should have taken him out before he actually stumbled and took the fall. Again, I’m thinking the game. I’m thinking he’ll play through it, he’ll figure it out. But hey, he was hurting. He walked out after he took the spill and he didn’t come back. That’s not Melo-like. Obviously his knee was bothering him.”
Woodson does a good job of sidestepping a silly question to set the scene for Anthony's exit. As many supposed after his awkward fall, Anthony's tangled feet merely complicated an already present knee injury -- one that was so nagging that Anthony had asked out of the game because of it. It's a strange situation all around, but not one that warrants any second-guessing; Woodson badly needed Anthony in the game to preserve hope of a comeback, but once a non-contact incident sent Anthony to the floor, Woodson and the training staff understandably kept him out for the night.
Anthony is currently listed as day-to-day with a sore knee, but Frank Isola of the New York Daily News is understandably skeptical:
The Knicks are calling the injury a stiff/sore knee, which can be taken one of two ways -- it is nothing to worry about, or the Knicks, notorious for providing misleading injury information, are reluctant to reveal the source of Anthony’s discomfort. Remember, Rasheed Wallace was listed as day-to-day with a sore left foot for nearly three months before having surgery to repair a broken bone last week.
The Knicks have been rather deceptive when it comes to injury diagnosis, so it's certainly possible that Anthony's ailment could be more serious than the team is letting on. This also could be a relatively harmless day-to-day injury. All we can do is wait and see. It's silly that it's come to that, but the same could be said of many aspects of the way the Knicks do business. They've earned this kind of doubt, and in the process left us all to wonder if Anthony's injury should be taken at face value.