“At the end of the day that’s my first priority, to stay. That’s my first priority. My priority is to figure it out, let’s figure it out together… I came to New York, and I said it before, I wanted to retire a Knick. That’s not something I would bull—- with, I said it, I meant it.”
—Carmelo Anthony, speaking to PBT at All-Star Game
A lot happened since Anthony said that back in February: The Knicks stacked up losses like a child does legos and missed the playoffs, the Knicks turned the franchise keys over to Phil Jackson, and then Anthony met with Jackson as well as representatives from the Lakers, Bulls, Rockets and Mavericks to be recruited as a free agent.
But in the end Carmelo Anthony came back to the Knicks, making it official on his Web site Sunday morning. Here is the statement from his Web site.
“A few years ago I dreamed of coming back to New York City, the place of my birth, and on February 23, 2011 that became a reality. This organization has supported me and in return, I want to stay and build here with this city and my team. At this pivotal juncture in my career, I owed it to myself and my family to explore all of the options available to me. Through it all, my heart never wavered.
“During this journey I met with some quality organizations who have amazing talent and leadership. I thank them for their consideration, belief in my talent, and opportunity to imagine the possibilities.
“I will always remember this chapter in my life. In the end, I am a New York Knick at heart. I am looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and I am surrounded by the greatest fans in the world.”
Anthony was always able to get more money in New York and that was going to be part of the attraction. The Bulls certainly offered a better chance to win right now, but Anthony would have had to leave more than $40 million on the table to do it.
What Anthony wanted from the Knicks was a plan, a path to contending. They gave him Phil Jackson. That was enough (and if Jackson can keep James Dolan away from basketball decisions he’s worth the $12 million a year).
More than that, it was New York that Anthony could not leave.
He grew up a Knicks fans and he fought to get traded here. His wife loves New York. He likes raising his children there.
And he likes being the face of the Knicks — it is a passionate and smart fan base that gets the game and appreciates effort and skill. They can be harsh, they want to win and be entertained, but they are a special group. The energy in Madison Square Garden before a Knicks game is unlike anything else in basketball.
For likely the rest of his career, Anthony will be the face of that. Which has always been what he wanted most.