HANG TIME, Texas — Stubborn is refusing to take the fashion hint that it’s not OK to wear that plaid shirt with those striped pants. Stubborn is not letting the guy in the next lane with his turn signal on get in front of you during rush hour.
The admission by Knicks coach Mike Woodson that he ignored a request by Carmelo Anthony to come out of the game against the Cavaliers would seem to go way beyond stubborn to that other word that begins with “st.”
In an interview with ESPN New York 98.7 FM, Woodson said that Anthony had asked to be removed from the game due to knee discomfort before suffering an injury in the second quarter.
Woodson decided to leave Anthony in the game and his leading man aggravated the right knee injury when he tripped without contact. Anthony went to the locker room with 6:42 remaining in the second quarter and did not return to the game, which the Knicks rallied from 22 points down to win.
Anthony officially has been diagnosed with a sore knee and is listed as questionable for tonight at Detroit and could miss Thursday’s high-profile showdown at Madison Square Garden against the Thunder.
“Melo was hurt,” Woodson said on The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show. “For him to ask me to come out of the game before he actually took that spill made me realize that something wasn’t right. He’s never ever, ever, even hinted about coming out of the game [before Monday]. I play him too much in that regard. Melo’s a trooper — he’s a warrior, he’s a tough kid.”
Asked why he chose to leave Anthony in the game after the request to come out, Woodson said: “I should have [taken him out]. Stubborn coach — I just didn’t.”
It is almost inconceivable that a head coach would blow off such a request from his star player, which has led some to speculate that perhaps Anthony was looking for a quick exit after an 0-for-4 first quarter and ultimately a 1-for-5 shooting performance that left him with a season-low six points.
But considering that Anthony could be on the shelf now for the next two games, that cover-up hardly seems likely.
There is also the matter of Woodson leaving Amar’e Stoudemire on the bench for the final eight minutes on Sunday when Miami was making a comeback from 16 points down to beat the Knicks.
Woodson said after the game that he stuck with his lineup of Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason, Kidd, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler because he liked the Chris Bosh-Chandler matchup when the Heat went small. But he has since changed his mind.
“Bad coaching,” Woodson said. “You can blame that on coach. Hey, you live and you learn. I learned from it.”
In the little over a month since Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have returned from injuries, Woodson has handled his rotation like a one-armed juggler, grasping wildly at anything.
At a time when the Knicks should be gearing up for the playoffs with the confidence that comes from a solid identity, they have neither. That’s on the coach.