On Thursday morning Carmelo Anthony was called into the office of president Phil Jackson following an 0-2 road trip. What follows is a transcript of their conversation:
Phil: "Good morning, Carmelo. How was the flight? I can't help but notice you're still limping a bit. How's the knee?"
Melo: "It's fine, sir. Don't worry, I'll be ready for Philly on Saturday."
Phil: "Yes, Philly...very important, that game against the Sixers. But I did want to suggest that perhaps you sit that one out -- and maybe a few more -- until that knee starts feeling a bit better."
Melo: "Sorry, Phil, but I'm just not wired that way. I'm a competitor...if I can walk, I'm gonna play."
Phil: "I thought you might say something like that, so I brought along a photograph that just might change your mind. Can you tell me what this is?"
Melo: "Um...it looks like a photo of two buffaloes humping."
Phil: "HAHAHA...I was once like you, son. So naive. No, the buffalo is a species native to Asia and Africa. These are North American bison."
Melo: "But they are humping, right?"
Phil: "Let me tell you a story...something that will put everything into perspective. I was wandering through a field in Montana one afternoon when I came upon these two magnificent creatures engaged in the mating ritual. It was magnificent, watching two large mammals move in such perfect harmony. I was reminded of Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere, the way they used to rotate on defense. It was a symphony of movement and sweat and grunting and purpose...such purpose. Well I broke down and cried right then and there. I must have stayed there for five hours, sobbing like a little baby. Jeanie had to take me to the emergency room, I was so dehydrated. The doctor took one look at me and said, 'Dammit Phil, have you been watching animals screwing again?' What a character, that guy!"
Melo: "Sorry, but what does this have to do with me sitting out?"
Phil: "The mighty bison were nearly lost to us, Melo. The white man hunted them almost to the point of extinction. When two bison copulate, they are doing so for the greater good -- the preservation of the species. Do you know the gestation period of bison? It's 300 days. And that is for a creature with a lifespan of only 25 years. Think of the sacrifice the mother bison makes for the good of her calf...for the future of the herd. You must become the Knicks' mama bison, Melo!"
Melo: "But I'm so damn tired of losing! And all the cracks about, 'Melo shoulda gone to Chicago.' I want to win now, dammit! The East is still wide open. If I can just play through this knee thing, we can get on a roll and get back into the playoff race!"
Phil: There's a quote in the Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita, which I find particularly useful during times like these: "We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal." Tell me, Melo: What is your ultimate goal?
Melo: "To win a championship."
Phil: "Exactly! The Sixers game, a playoff berth...these things are all distractions, leading us away from a higher purpose."
Melo: "So what are you suggesting? We tank the whole season?"
Phil: "Who said anything about tanking? Hindus don't tank...they sacrifice in this life to gain in the next life. Your career has been an endless cycle of early playoff death and rebirth. It is the Saṃsāra, the wheel of life. It goes round and round like...like ping-pong balls in a lottery machine. Only by recognizing the cycle, and by stopping to hold onto one of those ping-pong balls -- the perfect ping-pong ball -- can we truly rise to the level of enlightenment. Now, I'm asking you, Melo...will you help us grab that ping-pong ball?"
Melo: "I will! Schedule a press conference, I'm sitting out the rest of the season!"
Phil: "Good man! Now if you don't mind, I've recorded a few Duke games. There's some kid named Okafor whom I simply must watch."