Carmelo Anthony calls digs 'slap in face'

Updated: February 16, 2012, 3:40 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPN NewYork.com

New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony disagrees with the widespread notion that he's "a selfish player."

"That's like a slap in the face," Anthony said during an interview with Stephen A. Smith on "SportsCenter" on Wednesday night. "None of my teammates I've ever played with would say that I was a selfish player. Nobody."

Point guard Jeremy Lin has reinvigorated the once-flailing Knicks (15-15), who have won seven straight games.

But many wonder whether Anthony, who thrives off isolation sets on offense, can co-exist with the 23-year-old "Linsation," who has turned the Knicks back into a high-octane pick-and-roll squad.

"It's a tough situation. I'm human at the end of the day, so it's like damn, where is this coming from?" Anthony said. "I know I'm not a selfish player. People around me know I'm not a selfish player. I do everything I can to make people around me understand I'm not a selfish player."

Anthony still wants the last shot, though.

"Of course I want to take the last shot, let's be quite frank: I've been doing for nine years already, and I've made a ton of them," he said.

Anthony said Lin has given the Knicks exactly what they've always needed: a competent point guard.

"Jeremy Lin was a blessing in disguise for us," Anthony said. "He fell down from upstairs for us in the situation that we've been looking for a guy to take over that position. But it's going to take a lot of work, but I'm willing to do it, and we've all got to be willing to do it."

Asked after their 100-85 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday whether Anthony deserved being labeled a selfish player, Knicks players rallied behind their teammate.

"We have no worries about Carmelo. He's a phenomenal player," star Amare Stoudemire said.

Center Tyson Chandler agreed, saying "I think it's completely nonsense. At the beginning of the season, we were asking players to do too much. Now we have a natural point guard that makes life easier for other guys and puts [players] in their natural position. So we're going to be more of a threat."

Anthony, who has been out since Feb. 6 with a groin injury, says he can take some of the pressure off Lin when he returns to the lineup. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said Wednesday he's still on pace to return later this week, with Friday being a possibility.

Anthony said it will allow other players such as power forward Amare Stoudemire and center Tyson Chandler to fit in and acclimate themselves on both ends of the floor.

As for the team's playoff hopes going forward, Anthony said, "We're a tough matchup with that team [the Miami Heat]. For anybody."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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