Carmelo Anthony Thanks Knicks Fans For MSG Ovation 'Appreciate the Love!'

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STILL BALLIN'
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Carmelo Anthony says he REALLY appreciates the loud ovation he got from Knicks fans Wednesday during his return to Madison Square Garden ... saying, "Real know the real!"

The Portland Trail Blazers star hadn't played at MSG since Dec. 2017 -- after the Knicks traded him to the OKC Thunder.

Of course, OKC eventually waived Melo. He had a short stint with the Rockets and then spent months unemployed before eventually signing with Portland in Nov. 2019.

Now, 35-year-old Melo is back to balling out ... averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds in the 20 games he's played so far. NOT BAD AT ALL!

Clearly, the fans in NYC -- where Melo spent almost 7 seasons -- still respect the guy and got a super loud ovation during the intros of the Portland vs. NY game on Wednesday.

"Real recognize real," Melo told us about his reception ... "I appreciate the love, always."

We also asked Melo if he thinks his jersey should be retired by the Knicks -- and he had an interesting response to that.

"I don't know man. You're talking something that ain't on my mind right now."

There's a solid argument for Melo's jersey to hang in the rafters at MSG -- he was an All-Star every year he played in NYC while averaging 24.7 points per game.

He also won the NBA scoring title in 2013 and set the Knicks single-game scoring record with 62 points in a game in 2014.

Kenyon Martin I Want To Coach The New York Knicks ... With Metta World Peace!!!

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SIGN ME UP
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The newest New York Knicks coach is ... Kenyon Martin????

Don't rule it out ... 'cause the ex-NBA superstar is officially throwing his hat into the ring for the open job -- telling TMZ Sports he wants to be NY's next head man!!

And, get this ... the dude says he wants Metta World Peace to be an assistant on his staff!!

We got the 41-year-old out at LAX ... and when we asked him who should replace David Fizdale at Madison Square Garden next, he told us straight-up, "Me!"

When our photog informed him Metta has also been gunning for the job ... he said that's cool, saying, "Me and Metta, head coach and assistant coach!"

So, could it happen? Almost certainly not ... the rumored favorite for the opening is Mark Jackson -- but others like Stan and Jeff Van Gundy have also reportedly been linked to the job.

But, K-Mart does have one thing going for him ... he tells us he thinks James Dolan ain't an evil monster that some make him out to be -- and it sure sounds like he could get along well with the guy!!

Charles Oakley Patrick Ewing Isn't Right Fit ... For Knicks Job

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IT'S GOTTA BE MARK
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Charles Oakley says even though the dude's a LEGEND in New York, Patrick Ewing simply ain't the right guy to take over for David Fizdale as Knicks head coach.

But, don't worry, Oak's got someone in mind -- Mark Jackson!!

TMZ Sports spoke with the ex-NY star about the coaching vacancy ... and, while he lists off a number of ex-Knicks who are qualified for the gig, Ewing ain't one of them.

Why??

"Ya gotta be a different type of coach than Patrick," Oak tells us. "I think he tried before and they didn’t hire him. So, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens."

Also, why??

David Fizdale Touches Down in Los Angeles ... After Knicks Firing

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ON TO THE NEXT THING
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David Fizdale is back on the West Coast -- returning to Los Angeles just days after he was fired as head coach of the NY Knicks.

Fizdale hasn't talked publicly about the situation ever since he got the ax on Dec. 6 --  and when we saw him at LAX, the 45-year-old made it clear he's still not ready to open up.

The Knicks took heat over the past few days for not being particularly nice to Fizdale in their initial press release about the firing ... but issued a revised statement on Sunday.

"The New York Knicks organization would like to thank David Fizdale for his leadership and professionalism over the past two seasons. He represented the organization with nothing but class. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

The NY Post claims the Knicks delayed the release of the statement because the two sides were still legally working out their separation agreement ... which could be why it took Fizdale so long to get on a plane and head out West.

Fizdale included a statement in the release ... saying coaching the Knicks "has been a great honor."

He added, "While it is obviously disappointing that we couldn’t deliver the wins we wanted on the court, I am very proud that we were able to establish a system which values accountability, respect, and hard work."

"Although the short-term results weren’t what I hoped for, I’m confident the culture and values we prioritized will contribute to the growth and future success of the core young players who are already improving each and every day.”

So, why's Fizdale in L.A.? Probably not back on the job hunt just yet ... he was born and raised in Los Angeles and played his college ball in San Diego, so probably just here to spend time with his family and friends.

Charles Barkley Warns Becky Hammon ... Don't Take the Knicks Job!!!

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SUPPORT THE PLAYERS
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It would be historic ... but Charles Barkley says Becky Hammon should NOT consider the NY Knicks head coaching job because it would set her up for failure!

Of course, the Knicks are in the market for a new head coach after firing David Fizdale last week -- and a lot of people are calling for James Dolan to make Becky the first female head coach in NBA history.

42-year-old Hammon has created a lot of buzz in the NBA coaching world -- she was a 6-time WNBA All-Star before becoming an assistant with Gregg Popovich's Spurs in 2014. Pop has praised her as a coaching star and it seems like it's only a matter of time before she takes a head coaching job.

Getty

There are rumblings Hammon is interested in the Knicks job ... but Barkley is warning her to stay FAR AWAY from the dumpster fire that's the Knicks.

"Somebody's gonna give her a chance," Barkley tells TMZ Sports ... "I don't think she should take THAT job. Don't take a bad job!"

As we previously reported, people are pretty upset with the Knicks for axing Fizdale -- with Michael Rapaport calling for a celebrity boycott of the organization.

Long story short ... Rap says Knicks owner James Dolan has ran the organization into the ground and he feels like a celebrity boycott is the only way to show Dolan the fans won't stand for it anymore.

Barkley says he ain't with the boycott but understands Rap's frustrations.

There's more ... we also talked to Sir Charles about Carmelo Anthony's comeback and Lizzo's jaw-dropping thong incident at the Lakers game.

Metta World Peace Wants Knicks Coaching Spot ...'Lets Get it Poppin' NYC!'

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I GOT WHAT IT TAKES

Metta World Peace didn't even wait an hour to make a play for David Fizdale's job -- claiming he should be the next coach of the Knicks 'cause he's got that NYC street ball mentality!

The ex-NBA star meant no disrespect to Fizdale --- who was fired in his 2nd season --- and gave Fiz credit for what he was able to accomplish in his short time as head coach.

"Shoutout to Coach Fiz. I mean you deserved it man," MWP says ... "You put in work. I watched you over the years."

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But, what the Knicks are missing is that NYC mindset, according to Metta who says growing up in Queens and later playing for the Knicks make him the perfect candidate.

"I will absolutely bring that street mentality to the Garden."

"Let's get it poppin' New York City. The fans chill out, you already know what it is. All that booin', we gon' boo yall if I'm in the Garden."

He adds, "We coming to win and that's it ... it's just my love for New York City."

For now, the Knicks have tapped Mike Miller as interim coach -- and there are rumblings NY is seriously considering Mark Jackson for the full-time gig.

Look, Metta knows it's a tough job and he ain't the frontrunner ... but he's making his case anyway!

"It's one of the best jobs in sports. Block out the fans. They act hard but really they just want to win."

Good luck ...

Michael Rapaport Goes Scorched Earth On Knicks ... I Can't Root For This Crap Anymore!!!

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"I'M DISGUSTED"
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"I'm making it official, I'm no longer a Knicks fan!!!"

That's Michael Rappaport officially ENDING his NY Knicks fandom -- saying he's "disgusted" with the team for firing head coach David Fizdale and can no longer justify rooting for 'em.

"I'm serious. I am a fan of the past Knicks. I'm not rooting for this team."

Rap says the only way to send a message to Knicks management is through a celebrity boycott -- and he's calling out the stars by name!!!

"Jerry Seinfeld Howard Stern, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, all the cast of SNL ... I know you get to go to the Garden Suite and get the free meals and the shrimp cocktails and the cookies ... DON'T GO TO GAMES ANYMORE!"

"Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande ... don't do it! Go to see 'Cats' on Broadway. Go to see 'Book of Mormon' ... Netflix and chill."

In fact, Rap -- who stars in "Atypical" -- is out on his U.S. comedy tour ... which should help him take his mind off the Knicks but you gotta watch the clip. He's PISSED!!!

In fact, he also goes crazy on Knicks owner James Dolan and delivers a personalized message to the billionaire.

NY Knicks Call BS On Richard Jefferson We Never Offered You a Contract!!!

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The New York Knicks are claiming Richard Jefferson straight-up LIED about getting a contract offer from the team before he retired ... saying RJ is just blowing smoke.

The Knicks could NOT have been happy with the comments Jefferson made on ESPN this weekend ... when he said he chose RETIREMENT over a contract with the Knicks because they suck.

"I refused to play for the Knicks," Jefferson said during the Knicks vs. Nets broadcast on Sunday night.

"NO THANKS"
NBA

"Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin -- they don't really care. Me, I was the one person that said, 'Knicks? No. I’ll retire.' That’s why I retired."

"They were the one team that offered me a job, and I decided to retire," RJ continued ... "It’s true. I decided to retire instead of playing for the Knicks."

Now, the Knicks are clapping back through the team's official PR Twitter account ... saying, "For clarification purposes, it is not true that the New York Knicks offered Richard Jefferson a contract in either the summer of 2018 or 2019."

So, someone's lying ...

As for Jefferson, dude had a solid NBA career -- he played 17 seasons in the league and won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavs in 2016.

Jefferson just tweeted at the Knicks, essentially laughing at them -- saying, "2020 here we come #comeback 😂"

Carmelo Anthony Guarantees NBA Return ... Then Signs With Portland!

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OPEN TO ANYTHING
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6:20 PM PT -- Carmelo wasn't lying ... the Portland Trailblazers just signed the forward!!!

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the 35-year-old is inking a non-guaranteed deal with the team.

Carmelo Anthony tells TMZ Sports he WILL be back in the NBA this season -- and he's even open to returning to the New York Knicks!

Everyone's been wondering about Melo's basketball future ever since he parted ways with the Houston Rockets back in January.

35-year-old Anthony has previously said he wants to get back in the league -- however, no one has pulled the trigger yet.

But, it sounds like Melo's got something cookin' ... because when we saw the 35-year-old leaving The Henry in L.A. on Wednesday night, he was VERY optimistic about his return.

"We're figuring it out," Melo told us ... noting that he was NOT in town to speak with the Lakers or the Clippers.

When we pushed back and asked if he'll be on a roster this season, Melo told us ... "For sure. 2000%."

There are reports the Knicks could be interested in Anthony -- interesting considering the way things ended back in 2017 -- but Melo says he's down to return.

"We open man. We open to every opportunity."

In fact, Melo even defended Knicks head coach David Fizdale ... saying the team's lowly 2-9 record isn't all his fault ... "It's a lot of things that goes into that."

So, where will Melo end up this season? Stay tuned ...

Originally Published -- 6:01 AM PT

'Fire Dolan' Heckler Confronted By Knicks Security ... Not Ejected

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The NY Knicks fan who started a "Fire James Dolan" chant at Madison Square Garden on Sunday was confronted by security, but we're told he was NOT ejected.

The chant broke out as the Knicks were getting crushed by the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers  -- and as everyone knows, owner James Dolan doesn't like being heckled.

In the past, he's thrown out and banned fans who have directed similar taunts his way.

The man claiming to be the heckler is Andrew J. Padilla -- who went to social media tell his side of the story.

"6 security guards just took me out my seat at Madison Square Garden for chanting 'fire Dolan,'" Padilla said.

"I was escorted to the basement where they told me I could go back so long as I followed the 'code of conduct' ... Aka Not chanting #FireDolan."

"I chose to leave and spend my money somewhere else."

There are reports Padilla was ejected from MSG and subsequently banned from coming back -- but our MSG sources are adamant that's just not true.

As one source put it, "No one was ejected last night from MSG for any reason."

TMZ Sports has previously posted video of Dolan personally ejecting hecklers in the past -- including an incident from March 2019.

MARCH 2019
GET OUTTA HERE, WISE GUY
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Dolan also famously had a sideline altercation with Charles Oakley that led to the Knicks legend being banned from MSG for a year.

For their part, the Knicks told us previously, "Our policy is and will continue to be that if you are disrespectful to anyone in our venues, we will ask you not to return."

Michael Rapaport Kevin Durant is Wrong The Knicks Will Always Be Cool!!!

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DON'T WORRY ABOUT US
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Michael Rapaport ain't taking too kindly to Kevin Durant's uncool assessment of his beloved NY Knicks ... and sent this message to the Brooklyn Nets star:

"You got a big task in front of you -- you and your flat-earth friend, Kyrie Irving -- don't worry about the New York Knicks right now."

KD set social media on fire last week when discussing his decision to sign with Brooklyn instead of the Knickerbockers ... saying "The cool thing right now is not the Knicks.”

Durant basically said the Knicks haven't been good in decades and young people see the organization as more of a joke (since that's all they know) than a legendary franchise.

Enter Rapaport -- who'll stop at nothing to defend his beloved hoops team. He tells TMZ Sports KD is DEAD WRONG about the Knicks ... even if they've had their recent struggles.

"The Knicks are always gonna be cool," Rapaport told us Monday. "Don't worry about us. We know our deficiencies."

Rapaport has some advice for Durant, who's recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered during the NBA Finals ... saying the Knicks should be the last thing on his mind.

"You should just be chilling in a hyperbolic chamber getting your blood spun so we can see you back on the court."

Rapaport ain't holding a grudge against the superstar baller, though ... telling us he hopes to see Durant 100% in no time.

"We wanna see KD healthy, we wanna see him back on the court."

Kevin Durant The Knicks Aren't 'Cool' Anymore

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Kevin Durant is twisting the knife on the New York Knicks ... saying it's no longer "cool" to play for New York ... just months after rejecting them for the Brooklyn Nets.

KD spoke about his free agency decision on HOT 97 in NYC Tuesday morning ... saying he was ready to move on from dominating with Golden State to take on a different challenge with a younger team.

“Basketball is the most important thing for me," Durant said. "Kyrie [Irving], DeAndre Jordan, the young players they got was key."

"Playin' with Golden State, playing with a older group I thought it was time for me to impose my will on a younger team.”

This is the part where Knicks fans might wanna look away, 'cause it's about to get ugly.

KD was asked why he went with BK over the NYK ... and he didn't mince his words.

“It's hard to get the best players to play [for the Knicks]. It's hard," KD says.

"I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players who, in their lifetime, don’t remember the Knicks being good."

"I saw the Knicks in the Finals, but the kids coming up after me didn’t see that. So, that whole brand of the Knicks, to them, is not as cool to them as, say, a Golden State Warriors or even the Lakers or the Nets now. The cool thing right now is not the Knicks.”

KD says he did, in fact, consider playing for New York ... but it was a very brief "thought" and he didn't explore it that much ... which hurts, given the rumors that he was destined to be a Knick.

"I thought about it, yeah -- just a thought. But, I didn’t do any deep full analysis on the Knicks. I heard it every day -- media in the Bay Area were talkin' about it every day. Tough to dodge, but can’t control it.”

Naturally, Durant is GETTING IT from NY fans on Twitter over the comment ... but he's sticking by his words.

It's okay, Knicks fans ... at least you have R.J. Barrett!!!

NBA's Dennis Smith Jr. I Dropped 15 lbs. This Summer ... After Dropping Bojangles!!!

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CURVING THE DIET

Would you give up your FAVORITE food in the world to lose 15 pounds?!?

NY Knicks rising star Dennis Smith Jr. did ... revealing the key to his Summer weight loss was cutting out the fried deliciousness from his favorite fast food spot on the planet, Bojangles!!!

For those who aren't familiar with the chicken 'n’ biscuit chain, it's HUGE in southeastern states like North Carolina (where Smith Jr. is from). Cam Newton's raved about it too!!!

So, when the 21-year-old showed up to training camp looking slimmer and trimmer than usual ... the media pressed him to reveal his weight-loss secret.

"Yeah, I had to change some of the things I ate," Smith Jr. said, "I’m a country boy, man. We eat DIFFERENT down there."

"I ain’t eat Bojangles for most of the summer ... it helped!"

Of course, Smith says he also ate a bunch of green stuff like kale and spinach ... but it SUCKS compared to Bojangles.

Smith says he feels lighter and stronger and thinks the weight loss will help him better endure the long NBA season. He's probably right.

Also worth noting ... there are NO Bojangles franchises in New York -- so he's out of the danger zone during home games.

But, NY plays on the road in Charlotte, D.C. and Atlanta ... where there are a TON!!!

God speed ...

Willis Reed Net From Iconic 1970 NBA Finals Game 7 ... Up For Auction

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Getty

The basketball net from one of the most legendary sporting events ever -- Willis Reed's miraculous comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals -- is up for auction!!!

The backstory ... Red Holzman's NY Knicks -- who had a great 60-22 season -- were favored to beat the L.A. Lakers in the Finals. However, the Knicks championship aspirations appeared to sustain a death blow when superstar Willis Reed tore his thigh muscle in Game 5.

Knotted up at 3 games each, no one expected Reed to play in the decisive 7th game. Somehow, he did ... limping onto the Madison Square Garden hardwood to a roaring ovation.

Reed scored the game's first 2 baskets ... and played lockdown defense on Wilt Chamberlain.

The Knicks won the game 113-99 ... and were NBA champions for the first time.

After the game, the net from one of the hoops was presented to Holzman ... and the Hall of Fame coach kept them until his death in 1998.

After he passed away, Red's family held the net until now ... when they put the historic piece of memorabilia up for auction at SCP Auctions.

Now, it can be yours, hoop fans ... bidding ends Saturday afternoon.

Red Holzman

Charles Oakley James Dolan Blackballed Me I'm Like the Kaepernick of the NBA!!!

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DON'T BLAME ME
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Charles Oakley says he's still persona non grata at Madison Square Garden ... telling TMZ Sports he feels "blackballed" by James Dolan ... and he wants the commissioner to get involved.

The Knicks legend was infamously dragged out of MSG and arrested for getting physical with security after an altercation with Dolan at a game in Feb. 2017.

2/8/17
THE HEATED EXCHANGE

Oak still has hard feelings about how it all went down ... and tells us he wishes the league would've had his back in his fight against Dolan.

"It's been 2 years plus. The league hasn't done nothing to him about it," Oakley says. "Take a stand. They take a stand for everything else. [Colin] Kaepernick took a stand in the NFL. I'll probably take a stand in the NBA."

Even after all this time, Oak says he can't figure out exactly WHY Dolan doesn't like him ... "They just don't like me. For what reason, I don't know."

Oakley says he wants Adam Silver to get involved and make things right ... because "the problem hasn't been solved yet."

"It's a heartbreaking thing that happened."

Charles Oakley It's Embarrassing Dwight Got Signed ... Before Melo

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HATE TO SEE IT
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Charles Oakley says Carmelo Anthony's gotta be bummed to see Dwight Howard join his best friend LeBron James on the Lakers ... telling TMZ Sports "it's embarrassing for Carmelo" to remain unsigned.

Melo's status in the league has been one of the biggest topics this off-season ... and the superstar has been very public about wanting to play.

Even ex-NBAer Royce White called out LeBron for not helping out his guy ... especially after the Lakers brought Howard back after a less than stellar first stint a few years back.

We spoke with the Knicks legend about teams passing on the 10-time All-Star ... and Oak says Anthony's problem is that he left New York to begin with.

"Carmelo should've never left New York," Oak tells us ... "I think if he'd have stayed in New York, he probably would've gotten a new contract and maybe the Knicks would've made the playoffs the last couple years."

"I wish him all the love, but Melo's gotta realize that he had a great career. Don't sweat the people. You played the game at a high level, and leave on that level. Don't just want to be on a team because you want to be on a team."