Nothin' but Net: Knicks need to exercise composure

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When we are done feeding my 11-month-old son, it's quite a sight.

He's a big eater, gets it from his dad. When the meal is done, he's not quite ready for it to be done.

He scrunches his face and lets loose with blood-curdling screams. It's almost like he'd rather explode then, heaven forbid, not have another crack at his processed turkey, rice and vegetables, which, by the way, he already inhaled.

When you see it, you have to laugh a little.

It's not so funny when the New York Knicks do it.

Granted, the Knicks meltdowns don't resemble a baby's, but in the landscape of the NBA, they are noticeable and problematic.

The latest incident occurred Monday night at the Garden against the Boston Celtics. Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony got into an altercation, then it really hit the fan after the game.

There was video showing Anthony waiting by the Celtics team bus, waiting for Garnett to emerge. Reports said he stopped by the Boston locker room first and Anthony said later, he "just wanted to talk to" KG.


You've probably seen the video of Anthony standing outside. Have you seen the TMZ video? The new Woodward and Bernstein of the seedy posted a video of the two loudly talking and some people trying to separate the two.

The story goes that Garnett said some unflattering things about Anthony's wife.

"It's something you just don't say to men, another man," Anthony said.

You've probably read the cereal-related comments.

(Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on his weekly interview on Boston radio station WEEI Thursday, "Well, number one, I know what's been reported did not happen. I know that as a fact.")

I have no interest in dredging it up, or making light of the comments. Know why? It's because little old me knows that's what Garnett has become, no matter what his coach says.

He's an agitator and instigator without the slightest tinge of remorse. Garnett once said "Happy Mother's Day" to Tim Duncan. Duncan's mom died of cancer when he was 14.

That's Kevin Garnett.

Garnett called Charlie Villanueva a "cancer patient." Villanueva suffers from alopecia, which prevents him from growing hair, so Garnett basically offended two groups of sick people battling afflictions in one attempt to get under another player's skin.

Once again, Kevin Garnett.

Garnett's behavior is often reprehensible and disgusting, saying these vile comments just to rattle a player. Without confirming what he said to Anthony, does anyone doubt he said something horrible enough?

So why didn't Anthony realize that's Garnett's shtick? When someone talks about your wife is generally the time to let the fists dance, but not in the middle of an NBA game, and not after one in the parking lot.

"I got out of character a little bit," Anthony said on Tuesday. "I lost my cool yesterday. I accept that. Certain things push certain people's buttons. I lost my composure."

Make no mistake, this was not a quickly decided, heat of the moment thing. If it was, why would Anthony shower, dress and go back out to the team bus? That's calculated and it's going to cost Anthony a game. The NBA suspended him for one, and it'll be a crucial one against the Indiana Pacers Thursday night.

Anthony defending his wife's honor is noble, if not assumed. His hot-tempered reaction now comes at the detriment of his team, a group that has not handled the slightest bit of adversity well all season.

There was the early season game against the Memphis Grizzlies, which turned out to be the Knicks' first loss of the season. In that one, the Knicks let some questionable calls rattle them, and Anthony and Rasheed Wallace were called for technical fouls. J.R. Smith was whistled for a flagrant foul. It was a three-point game before the Knicks became unglued. After Smith's flagrant, it was 19-point Grizzlies' lead.

How could we forget the home loss to the Chicago Bulls in mid-December? Joakim Noah and the officials shook the Knicks, so Anthony, head coach Mike Woodson and Chandler all got tossed from that one. That game wasn't close, but the Knicks let their frustrations out too easily and too explosively.

And, unnecessary reactions to officiating have been a concern. The Knicks need to know any outward displays of dissatisfaction will lead to automatic T's. You can't show the refs up.

"We've got to play, leave the officials alone and play the game," Woodson told ESPN Radio's "The Stephen A. Smith" show on Tuesday. "It's my job to make sure guys do that. Again, it's not about individuals. This is a team game, and guys have got to be more professional about their approach."

That's all well and dandy, but Monday's Carmelo incident was at least the third documented case of a Knicks unraveling and that's two too many.

The Anthony suspension hurts, but the bigger picture might be more damaging. The key ingredient all three instances had in common was that physical teams pushed the Knicks around.

If what's happened the three times prior is any lesson, why won't other teams try that formula? Might as well, because the Knicks haven't shown they have an answer for it. In fact, bullying them has worked.

Woodson pooh-poohed that notion.

"That's three games, guys," he told Stephen A. Smith and co-host Ryan Ruocco. "We've already played a third of our season, and I think if that was the case, all teams would do that."

All teams can't do it - successfully. But they may try.

The Knicks are in it for real now. They are a legitimate contender for the Eastern Conference title, and, therefore, the NBA championship. They have to handle these sorts of things better, if, for no other reason, their paths may cross the Bulls or Celtics in the playoffs. There's precedent in place to shake the Knicks off their game.

They can grow from this, but probably should have by now. Anthony seems to have learned some type of lesson from this, although total contrition was not shown.

Just so long as they don't cry and throw pacifiers around. That market has been cornered in my house.