Jim Boeheim said at Friday's Team USA practice that he believes Carmelo Anthony's decision to choose the Knicks over the Bulls in free agency was solely because of his love of New York.
"It was a decision he had to make and I think he just loved New York, I really do," he said. "I don't think he thought about Chicago being a better fit in terms of winning right away; I think he loved New York and he believes they can win there."
Anthony was at the forefront of the Bulls' plans this summer as one of the most highly sought-after free agents, and he admitted after choosing to re-sign in New York that his ultimate decision came down to the Knicks and Bulls.
Boeheim coached Anthony as a freshman at Syracuse, where the Orange ran through the NCAA Tournament and won a national championship in 2003. Boeheim also has coached Anthony in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, where Team USA earned back-to-back gold medals.
Boeheim also defended Anthony against detractors who believe the seven-time All-Star hasn't accomplished much because of his brutal 23-43 playoff record. He's won just three playoff series in 13 tries, and four times his team (Denver or New York) has bowed out to the eventual NBA champion. Anthony and the Knicks missed the playoffs last year for the first time in his career, though Boeheim believes Anthony shouldn't carry the entire burden for his teams' lack of postseason success.
"He’s great under pressure, he won the national championship as a freshman, he’s won two gold medals and still some people say, ‘Well, he’s only won a few playoff games.’ Well every time he was in the playoffs his team was not favored," Boeheim said. "They lost to San Antonio, the Lakers, the Heat. If you want to put that all on him, you’ve got to get the facts straight. Every time they lost a playoff series his team was not favored. Too many times people generalize about things and they don’t really get the facts straight."
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Anthony has also been labeled by some as a one-dimensional scorer whose career 3.1 assists per game average is an indictment of his selfish play. Still, Anthony has averaged 25.3 points per game over his 11-year career and has ranked fourth and ninth in PER the last two years, respectively.
"I think his main role in the NBA has been to score, they needed him to score so that’s what he does. I don’t think you should be criticized when the coach asks you to score and you score. That’s what he does, but he’s a great offensive player; he’s not LeBron James," Boeheim said. "He can help, he can make passes but his primary focus and what he does best is score, and that’s what he does."