LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during the first half at Staples Center on December 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death hit the entire NBA hard, but Carmelo Anthony took the tragedy especially hard.

Sunday was one of the most difficult days in NBA history and that’s not hyperbole. The legendary Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, were among nine who perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA.

Former New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony admitted that playing wasn’t easy, but it’s ultimately what Kobe would have wanted.

“That’s probably the hardest game I ever had to play,” Anthony told reporters after the Portland Trail Blazers’ game against the Indiana Pacers. “I don’t know. … It was tough. It was tough.”

Bryant and Anthony were both members of the “Redeem Team” that won Gold at the 2008 Olympics. Like many players, Anthony was at a loss for words and still trying to process the devastating news. But there was one thing Melo knew: Kobe would have wanted him to play.

“Honestly, knowing him the way that I knew him, he would have wanted me to play,” Anthony said.

Among his long list of championships, accolades, and achievements, Bryant was one of the best to ever do it in Madison Square Garden. In fact, he set the MSG-scoring record with a masterful 61-point performance against the Knicks on Feb. 2, 2009.

However, his close friend, Melo, would break that record by one point in 2014. The 62-point outburst was Anthony’s career-high.

Kobe Bryant is never one to be outdone. Although Melo owns the MSG-scoring record, Bryant’s career-high of 81 points is second to only Wilt Chamberlain’s virtually unbreakable tally of 100 points.

Melo and Kobe are two of the best scorers in the history of basketball, but more importantly, they were close friends with tremendous respect for one another.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.