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Sunday, September 25, 2011
Carmelo Anthony: Players united

By Jared Zwerling
Special to

Even with NBA labor negotiations at a standstill and news coming Friday that the league canceled the start of preseason camps, including 43 preseason games, New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony is sticking by NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. In fact, he is speaking for all his fellow and frustrated colleagues.

"Our main thing as players is that we have to stick together," said Anthony, who went for 31 points and 17 rebounds in Sunday night's "Battle for I-95" charity basketball game in Philadelphia at the Palestra, which also featured LeBron James and Chris Paul. "We communicate almost every day. We talk about the lockout, different situations, different schemes. We talk about the owners, we talk about ourselves, we talk about reality. Hopefully we can get something done soon."

Anthony said that if the union needs to be decertified to move the negotiation needle in a positive direction, he would be in favor of that. According to an report, NBA agents believe that the owners currently have most, if not all, of the leverage in these talks and that something needs to be done to turn the tide. They believe decertification will do the trick, creating uncertainty and wresting control away from the owners.

"If that's where we've got to take it," Anthony said, "that's where we've got to take it. Whatever it takes to get a season."

In the meantime, expect more charity hoops appearances from Anthony and his Team Melo squad, made up of other NBA ballers who were born or raised in Baltimore, including Donte Greene (Sacramento Kings), Gary Forbes (Denver Nuggets), Gary Neal (San Antonio Spurs) and Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies). First it was a game in Washington D.C. on Aug. 30 and then one in Philly on Sunday night. On Saturday, Team Melo will head down south to North Carolina -- this time with special guests Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant -- where they'll play in Chris Paul's All-Star Charity Game at Winston Salem State University. Anthony said Miami could follow, and after that he'll be open to any offer.

"Whatever city calls us out, hopefully we'll be there," Anthony said. "There's no basketball right now, so we want to give (the fans) something to do. ... We have to keep playing and giving fans what they want."

Anthony said his Team Melo games are also significant because they help him stay in game shape. In fact, he's now down in weight to 230 pounds.

"I feel good mentally and physically," Anthony said. "My mindset is I start (training camp) next week."

Jared Zwerling is a regular contributor to