Carmelo Anthony
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony understands why players like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant don’t want to play for the New York Knicks.

Danny Small

The New York Knicks are a whole different type of challenge for NBA players according to Carmelo Anthony. It’s not something that every player can deal with, which is why Melo says he’s not surprised Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving opted to sign with the Brooklyn Nets over the summer.

“I mean, not everybody can deal with that,” Anthony said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “Not even a star, I mean regular player, role guys, just players — a lot of people can’t deal with that. There’s not too many people who can deal with what comes with that. I don’t want to say it’s pressure. Everything that comes along with wearing the Knicks across your chest.

“I don’t think it surprised me [when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving opted for Brooklyn]. We all read Durant’s quotes. We know what he said. Whether you agree with him or not, that just goes to show you people have different perspectives about it. It’s not always, ‘Oh, that’s the Knicks and we’re going to get somebody.’ It’s [not] a guarantee. Nowadays, players are not thinking about that. Players want to be able to go to a situation where they can enjoy it, have fun and not have to deal with that.”

If anyone understands what it’s like to play under the New York spotlight, it’s Carmelo Anthony. Despite his unceremonious departure from the organization, he’s still one of the only stars who wanted to accept the challenge of playing for the Knicks.

During his six-plus seasons with the Knicks, Melo won a scoring title, made the All-Star Game each year, and even won a playoff series in 2013.

Anthony also talked about ousted head coach David Fizdale, who he’s developed a relationship with over the years. Melo was sad to see the head coach take the fall for the team’s poor start.

“I don’t like it,” Melo said of Fiz’s firing. “Somebody had to take the fall for it, but this is sad. It hurts me to see that, especially being on the outside looking in now. Before I was inside looking out. So I see it from both perspectives. I mean, you just don’t want to see that from the organization, from a team right now.”

On Tuesday, Melo will play the Knicks for the first time since Dec. 16, 2017. He was part of a “big three” on the Oklahoma City Thunder with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Boy, time flies in the NBA.

Anthony recently took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors and he’s breathing new life into his career once again. The scuffling Portland Trail Blazers are 4-6 with Melo, but they were struggling before he arrived so there’s no scapegoating him here. The 10-time All-Star is averaging 15.9 points on 40.8% shooting and 35.9% from three-point range. He’s adding 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists as well.

Although Tuesday’s game will certainly carry some weight with Knicks fans, the New Year’s Day is the date to circle on the calendar. Melo will play in Madison Square Garden for the first time in over two years. It’s safe to say Knicks fans are going to turn out and show Melo the love in what could be the final game in MSG of his career.

Of course, Melo doesn’t want anyone calling this season a farewell tour. However, every time he plays in the Garden from now until the end of his career—whenever that may be.

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