Water under bridge as 'forced out' Anthony faces Knicks

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oklahoma) • New Thunder acquisition Carmelo Anthony insisted he held "no grudge'' against his former National Basketball Association team the New York Knicks, even after a 2016-17 season that he found so rocky and turmoil-ridden that it made it hard for him "to enjoy the game".

"You want it to work out so bad, for so many years, and it doesn't work out - it's not fun anymore," Anthony said in an interview with The New York Times.

He said the nagging sense that Phil Jackson, who was then the Knicks' president, was "forcing me out", gradually snuffed out his devotion to the franchise.

"When I signed back with the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York and I believed in Phil," Anthony added in reference to the US$125 million (S$169 million) contract with the no-trade clause that he agreed with Jackson in July 2014, a deal that kept him from departing as a free agent.

"Then last year, it went to - I was being pushed out. There were things being said about me that I didn't know where they were coming from.

"And I still had to go in that gym and play and practise and deal with the media, answer all those questions every day."

When asked how many times he and Jackson spoke face to face last season, Anthony said: "Maybe twice. There was no support from the (Knicks) organisation.

"When you feel like you're on your own and then on top of that, you feel like you're being pushed out...

"I already had in my mind that I wanted to win, that I wanted to move on. We didn't think it would take as long as it did, but my mind was already made up."

The delay to find a workable trade, in his view, stemmed from the fact that Jackson was willing "to trade me for a bag of chips", while Scott Perry, who became the Knicks' new general manager after Jackson's departure, took a harder line in trade talks with the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers that eventually fizzled.

"They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak," Anthony said with a laugh, now putting all the unhappiness behind him.

It is easy for him to laugh, because a deal did ultimately take shape with Oklahoma City, one that puts him on one of the NBA's most talented teams alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

Anthony and the Thunder start their NBA season on Thursday (this morning, Singapore time). Their opponents? The New York Knicks.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2017, with the headline 'Water under bridge as 'forced out' Anthony faces Knicks'. Print Edition | Subscribe