Interview: Carmelo Anthony Talks Knicks, Prince & Soccer At Gillette Clinical Clear Gel Event
New York City’s Grand Central Station is a hub where the borough of The Bronx, Westchester County and Connecticut all meet in midtown Manhattan.
While commuters face the daily pressures of catching the 6 train or the Metro North daily in NYC, the New York Knicks face a different pressure: Will they retain interim head coach Kurt Rambis or will they find someone else? The Knicks finished the 2015-16 season with a 32-50 record, which resulted in a 13th place finish in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Rambis took over the helm as Knicks head coach after the firing of Derek Fisher on February 8. While interim head coach, he led the Knicks to a 9-16 record.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton are names that have floated around as possible coaching possibilities. Walton, of course is off-the-market after accepting a multi-year deal to become the Los Angeles Lakers head coach following the departure of Byron Scott. Walton will begin his tenure as head coach of the Lakers following the Warriors’ run in this year’s NBA Playoffs. Add Frank Vogel’s name to the potluck of coaches following he and the Pacers parting ways after their first round loss to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Playoffs.
The Knicks’ coach searching process sounds more like an episode of The Bachelor, NBA Coaches Edition. Somebody get the original Bachelor, Jesse Palmer on line one! Basketball purists marveled at Carmelo Anthony, who in 72 games averaged a shade under 22 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Melo’s game did the talking and he rebuffed critics who claimed that he’s not a team player, that he’s selfish and a ball hog. It also helped that Arron Afflalo and Kristaps Porzingis shouldered Melo’s scoring load.
Since the blockbuster trade between the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks that shipped Anthony to New York in 2011, he’s played under four head coaches. That said, the million dollar question: What will Carmelo Anthony’s coach get from him next season?
“I think that everybody knows what to expect from me at this point in my career,” Anthony told me during his Gillette Clinical Clear Gel Pressure Chamber kickoff at Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall. “I’ll be entering, what…my 14th season? I have to continue to lead this team. We’re professionals and we’ve certainly improved from last season.”
Yeah, the Knicks were bad last season. With a dismal 17-65 record, it was the worst season in Knicks history. Then head coach, Derek Fisher was a fish out of water in his first year; pun halfway intended and Melo played in only 40 games and knee issues that required surgery to repair.
Anthony and the Knicks are not in the playoffs this season, but the Knicks small forward’s offseason routine has begun. He and his wife, LaLa Anthony attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in D.C., as well as the Met Gala in Manhattan earlier this week. In between those obligations, he admits to catching some NBA Playoff action. “I don’t stop being apart of basketball just because my season is over,” he said. Anthony watched as fellow all stars, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers floor general Chris Paul went down with significant injuries. “That first round was crazy,” he said. “All those injuries?”
On a more serious note, Anthony expressed his disheartenment in the loss of pop music icon, Prince who died on April 21. “Man, he was a legend,” said Anthony. “I’ve always been a fan. But I’ve been listening to a lot more of Prince lately. ‘Red Corvette,’ ‘Let’s Go Crazy,’ ‘1999.’ You truly don’t realize or appreciate a person until they’re gone.”
Anthony has been noncommittal about representing Team U.S.A Basketball in this summer’s Olympics in Rio. However, he was beaming when he started talking about soccer. Anthony is the proud team owner of Puerto Rico FC, of the North American Soccer League. Carmelo, you like soccer? Stop playing! “Man I love soccer,” laughed Anthony. “Besides basketball and boxing soccer to me is one of the most intense sports, period. You’ve got to be ultra competitive and have excellent footwork.”
Puerto Rico FC will make its debut on July 2 when they host Indy Eleven at Bayamón’s Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium.