Relationships of any kind often require respect — whether they’re on the court or off it. For Carmelo Anthony, this came naturally through the way he handled himself throughout his stint with the New York Knicks.
His former teammates took notice, even more so during the last couple of years, where a storm of criticism seemed to surround the Baltimore native throughout the entire season.
“He was getting it from every angle,” shooting guard Courtney Lee said, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. “So for him to be that mentally tough and still show up and still come to work and fight with us, our level of respect grew for him.”
For others, it was his natural charisma — a trait most didn’t take for granted in a city that can often give stars a big head when consumed with their fame.
“I saw him in the Olympics in 2016, but I was afraid to say ‘hi’ because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas said. “I remember one of the first practices, I didn’t know if he knew who I was or if he knew my name.”
Kuzminskas soon realized that Anthony wasn’t only aware of who he was, but where he was from and who he played with.
“He came over and asked me how was the Olympics? How was Lithuania? How is [Anthony’s ex-teammate] Linas Kleiza doing? So I was surprised,” Kuzminskas said. “Probably the biggest thing that I learned from Melo is that even being a huge star, huge player, you can be still a great person, great teammate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a veteran. He’s going to treat you the same way.”
Anthony has left some great friendships in New York to pursue his dream of an NBA championship with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although they might line up across from each other in tonight’s season-opener, Melo and his former teammates are slated to go out to dinner afterward, still keeping the bond and the respect that brought them together through a year of turmoil.