Carmelo Anthony is trying to win his first NBA title as the Lakers’ sizzling sixth man, but the more he talked on Zoom Monday afternoon, the more it seemed he’s destined to finish out his Hall of Fame career with the Knicks.
The 37-year-old Anthony said he’s still living in New York in the offseason and his son, Kiyan, is attending Christ the King High School in Queens.
During an interview with mostly New York writers, Anthony gave the highest praise to his former agent, Leon Rose, for turning the Knicks from laughingstock to playoff powers while also hailing the Kemba Walker signing.
He’ll certainly hear it from the Garden crowd Tuesday night when he hops off the bench in his purple and gold for the first time at MSG.
“I always look forward to playing at the Garden, playing in front of the fans,” Anthony said. “With the Knicks or against the Knicks. That love is different. That fan base is different for me. It goes deeper than basketball. They embrace me. I embrace them.”
The Knicks were open to bringing Anthony to New York this offseason after he left the Trail Blazers as a free agent but he chose the Lakers, who were hailed as title contenders. Things bear watching next summer.
“I don’t think the bond between myself and New York City will ever go anywhere,” Anthony said. “That’s why I embrace it the way I do. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The crowd — the Knicks are playing great basketball. They have good energy up there. We know how [Tom Thibodeau] teams are. They’re a very tough team. We know we have to come in and put our hard hat on tomorrow night. It will be great to get a win at the Garden. I’ll tell you that.”
Averaging 15 points, Anthony has been the lone pleasant surprise in La-La land, sizzling from 3-point range. He said it’s all about “being able to be adaptable and picking my spots.”
Walker has yet to find that comfort zone but Anthony loved the move – and thought it would’ve happened sooner.
“I love the signing with Kemba,” Anthony said. “I don’t know what took Leon so long to get that done. It was like perfect timing. He had an opportunity to get out of [Oklahoma City] and Leon jumped right on it and brought Kemba in. New York native, home, had a lot of success in the Garden in college. He’s from The Bronx. This is home. I know the feeling that he’s playing with. I know what he’s dealing with being from here and putting on the uniform. I’m glad Kemba is home.”
In lavish praise for Rose, who worked with him at CAA, Anthony said the work the Knicks’ front office has done has been underappreciated.
“What Leon and those guys have done, created, established here in New York needs to be more recognized,” Anthony said. “It’s very hard to come in and do what they started and did. As far as starting from the ground up, cleaning everything up. Bringing in the right people but not doing it in a frantic way. It was coming in talking to people understanding people.”