NEW YORK -- Shortly before training camp, Carmelo Anthony stood in front of his teammates and delivered a message.
"He expressed what he expected from us, and how he sacrificed his whole summer to work hard and lose weight and be in the best shape he’s been in," J.R. Smith said. "He expects us to do the same thing."
That speech was an early instance of what teammates and coaches say is an expanded leadership role for Anthony this season.
With elder statesman like Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas no longer around, Mike Woodson has leaned on Anthony and other veterans to fill the leadership void.
So far, Anthony has answered the call, according to Woodson.
"I think he's been more vocal this year," the coach said Sunday.
Woodson isn't the only Knick employee who's noticed.
New president and general manager Steve Mills told reporters in Toronto earlier this month that he's seen been impressed with Anthony's one-on-one work with younger players. The 10-year veteran has been spotted giving rookie Tim Hardaway advice during games and offering pointers to newcomer Andrea Bargnani on and off the floor.
For what it's worth, Anthony told reporters recently that he doesn't feel like he's talking more this season.
"Actually, I was vocal in my own way [last year]. We had guys vocal behind closed doors [last season] but for me, it’s letting everyone know what the deal is," Anthony said. “If I see something that’s wrong, I try to correct it as a unit. If I see something right, I give a pat on the back and keep moving. If that’s me being a leader, that’s me being a leader.”
Truth be told, reporters only see glimpses of what happens on an NBA sideline and in the locker room. We can only rely on what's relayed to us from players, which may or may not be true.
But when Smith notices that Anthony's been more vocal, it's a bit more significant.
Smith, after all, has played alongside Anthony for seven seasons (five in Denver, two in New York).
On Sunday, Smith said he thinks Anthony's words will have a "great impact" on his teammates.
"When you have your best player on the floor speaking up vocally, guys tend to believe in what he's saying because he's been there before," Smith says. "He’s done everything else in this league except win a championship. I think that’s the thing that’s burning him the most. He’s willing to do whatever."
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