Carmelo Anthony ready to recruit at All-Star Weekend

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Carmelo Anthony ready to recruit at All-Star Weekend

Posted on: February 12th, 2015 by tommyj

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USA TODAY Sports’ Adi Joseph previews what to watch at the dunk contest and three-point shootout at upcoming All-Star weekend. USA TODAY Sports
NBA: New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers
(Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

The 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend is Carmelo Anthony’s party.

There are no other New York Knicks on the Eastern Conference all star team. And the Brooklyn Nets, for all their expensive salaries, placed only Mason Plumlee in the dunk competition.

So it’s Carmelo’s show, and he’s reveling in it, while making plans to sell his vision of the Knicks to potential future teammates.

"I’ve had that experience maybe twice now, last year and then in L.A. a couple of years back right before I got (traded) to New York," Anthony said. "Now it’s my turn! Now it’s my turn to extend the favor."

Exactly how important the event and surrounding festivities are to Anthony can be divined from just what he’s done to make sure he’s playing in the game.

Anthony, for weeks now, has played with a knee injury that he’s acknowledged will require surgery. He’s playing in meaningless games for a Knicks team that isn’t anywhere near the playoffs, even in the weaker Eastern Conference. To be clear, he hasn’t been going through the motions in these games, playing starter minutes and playing until the bitter end, even in big losses. He’s played like an All Star in a difficult environment for doing so.

But it was clear that Anthony’s enthusiasm extended beyond those regular season games and toward the week-long break and celebration to come.

"Man, I’m looking forward to that," he said. "That week off — for me, I’ll utilize those days as best as I can. I’m just looking forward to it, to be able to participate in it here in New York. In front of my fans — in front of our fans."

The reality of the Knicks, though, is that there aren’t many players left for fans to root for beyond Anthony — not in a way that leads to any kind of attachment. Most of the roster isn’t signed beyond this season. Amar’e Stoudemire, once the star in New York, is weighing a buyout sooner than that.

But all that gets pushed aside for this weekend, as Anthony’s season is rightly celebrated amid a Knicks campaign where virtually everything else has gone awry. Anthony’s status for the game even is question.

And he does have something beyond the chance to play with Anthony to sell to would-be Knicks: Madison Square Garden, which you may have heard is a fairly famous arena.

"The Garden will be lit up, it will be bright," Anthony said. "There will be a lot of people in there. It will be loud and it will be exciting. So for other players to see that, I am pretty sure that will be impressive."

His coach, Derek Fisher, hasn’t experienced quite the same moment that Anthony will Sunday when he plays an all star game in his native city. He did participate in the rookie game back in 1997, but it wasn’t the main event, and it wasn’t in Fisher’s hometown of Little Rock.

"I almost feel bad for trying to answer this one," Fisher said, jokingly acknowledging the gap between his own peak and Anthony’s moment. "I can only imagine how it must feel for him. Being an All Star starter in New York City, in the place where he was born, and even the emotions involved with it. Leaving aside the team’s season, I think it’s great for all of us, individually as human beings, to be rewarded for what you can accomplish individually, even in a team setting."

It can’t be precisely what Anthony had in mind when he re-signed with the Knicks this past summer. It’s been a season to forget, the kind of low-water mark, filled with losses and physical pain, he hopes to look back on and laugh in better years ahead for the Knicks.

"I’m hoping it’s a great weekend for him, for his family for those closest to him," Fisher said. "Because that’s the time to celebrate what you have accomplished individually."

Or as Anthony put it, "It means a lot that I can represent New York here in my hometown. Kind of welcome everybody here to have a good time for the weekend."

LeBron James again leads the Eastern Conference All-Stars
LeBron James again leads the Eastern Conference All-Stars
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