Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Updated: February 25, 5:06 PM ET
Carmelo Anthony's 'dream come true'
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony said landing in New York after months and months of MeloDrama was "a dream come true" at his introductory news conference at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Anthony's dream became a reality Wednesday night when he scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his Knicks debut, a 114-108 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 26-year-old hit just 10 of 25 shots but had 11 of the Knicks' 28 fourth-quarter points and provided clutch scoring down the stretch after Amare Stoudemire fouled out.
"Getting this W meant a lot to me," Anthony said.
The four-time All-Star believes it will take time for him and fellow former Nugget Chauncey Billups to adjust to Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's system. Still, Anthony believes the team's immediate goal is to make the playoffs. The Knicks (29-26) are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
"Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen," Anthony said before the game.
Stoudemire finished Wednesday's game with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
Some wondered if chemistry would be an issue between Stoudemire and Anthony, the third and fifth leading scorers in the league, respectively. Anthony downplayed that concern after the game.
"I think me and him will have a great time together here alongside each other," Anthony said. "It's going to be exciting."
Like most fans, Anthony felt that the biggest challenge facing the Knicks over the final 27 games of the season would be on the defensive end.
"I want to focus on [defense] and get guys into that mentality, and then we'll be good to go," he said.
The Knicks landed Anthony in a blockbuster three-team, 13-player trade Tuesday with Denver and Minnesota. In addition to Anthony, New York also received Billups, Anthony Carter, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Minnesota's Corey Brewer. New York sent Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov to Denver, along with draft picks and cash. The Knicks sent Eddy Curry (and his expiring contract) to Minnesota along with Anthony Randolph for Brewer.
The New Jersey Nets reportedly had a deal in place with Denver to bring Anthony to Newark but he never agreed to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension with New Jersey. The Nets instead traded for Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams on Wednesday morning.
Anthony was asked if he ever considered signing an extension with a team other than the Knicks.
"I don't know. I really can't answer that question. I'm here now," Anthony said. "I signed with the Knicks. I really don't want to talk about ... other teams."
Anthony flew to New York late Tuesday and passed a physical on Tuesday night. He started his day on Wednesday by shooting around in a mostly empty Madison Square Garden.
"I've been working on no sleep," Anthony said after the game.
It seemed like Anthony was happy that all of the MeloDrama was over late Wednesday night. He said he's ready to continue to rejuvenate a Knicks franchise that last won a playoff game in 2001.
"I think New York needed a moment like this. When they got Amare, it brought some excitement back to the city," Anthony said. "Now, as Amare said, New York basketball is back. Will we win a championship this year? Who knows? That takes time. But this team is headed in the right direction. ... It's a dream come true for me, and I'm ready to rock."
At the introductory news conference Wednesday before the game, Anthony, dressed in a blue Knicks warm-up suit with orange trim, was joined by Billups. Also seated with Anthony were Madison Square Garden chairman and Knicks owner James Dolan, Knicks president Donnie Walsh and D'Antoni.
Dolan also addressed the media, welcoming Anthony and the rest of the new players.
Dolan said he knew during their meeting last Thursday in Los Angeles that the 26-year-old Anthony wanted to play in New York.
"It was clear that he wanted to come to our city and play for our franchise," said Dolan, who rarely addresses the media.
Dolan also addressed reports that former coach and general manager Isiah Thomas had advised him during the trade negotiations, calling them "fiction."
"While Isiah Thomas is a friend of mine, a very good friend of mine, he was not at all involved in this process," Dolan said.
He also said that he, Walsh and D'Antoni were on the same page throughout the process of landing Anthony.
"Donnie, Mike and I were completely coordinated in this process from start to finish," he said.
The owner added that he would discuss Walsh's future after Thursday's NBA trade deadline. There is a team option for the fourth and final year on Walsh's contract that Dolan has until late April to exercise.
"Donnie has done a great job on this trade. He has done a great job since he's been here," Dolan said.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.