LOS ANGELES -- Things may get a little emotional over the course of Sunday's game for Carmelo Anthony.
If so, it won't be because of the New York Knicks' struggles or any uncertainty about his future with the franchise. It will be because of the opponent.
Anthony is playing his last game against Kobe Bryant.
Bryant has been much more than a competitor for Anthony over the course of his career. He's also been a mentor, big brother and sounding board.
Here's how Carmelo describes his relationship with Bryant:
"I think everybody at this level, at our level, needs somebody that we can talk to; needs somebody that we can relate to; needs somebody who tells you straight up, tells you how it is, whether you're right or wrong. We all need that," Anthony said. "We all need those people."
Bryant has filled that role for Anthony for some time. The two developed a friendship during their time together with Team USA, and Bryant's influence and advice helped Anthony deal with a trying time during his Knicks tenure.
It was 2012, Anthony was injured, and the Knicks were surging thanks to an unexpected boost from overnight sensation Jeremy Lin. Linsanity was fun for almost everyone involved. But it was a little different for Anthony. The Knicks' star was dealing with public questions over whether the Knicks' success would continue when he returned.
In stepped Bryant, who told Anthony not to worry about the noise, and to focus on the court.
Bryant's advice helped Anthony gain perspective and propelled him to an MVP-caliber season the next year with the Knicks.
He's imparted wisdom like that to Anthony again and again over the course of his career. That's why Sunday night at Staples Center may be an emotional evening for Melo.