For someone who lit up the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden for 61 points, Kobe Bryant knew just how Carmelo Anthony felt Friday night. En fuego.
”This is the mecca of basketball,” Bryant said of the Garden. “here’s so much history here in the culture of the game, what this building means. This is the last one left in terms of all the history,” Bryant said, naming former Knicks such as Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. ”This is the last building left that carries that history with it.”
Anthony etched his name just above Bryant’s Friday, pouring in 62 points in a stunning performance that bested Bryant’s excellence in the landmark building by one point.
”I got a lot of messages from people saying Melo’s going after your record tonight,” Bryant said Sunday in New York, where his Los Angeles Lakers lost to Anthony and the Knicks. ”It’s amazing. He went to work. He got hot and didn’t cool off.”
Bryant was in street clothes, as he is still recovering from a broken left knee. But he is traveling with the team on its road trip to the frigid East Coast. He called his friend Anthony after Friday’s historic performance to congratulate him.
There is a chance that Anthony and Bryant could team up next year. Anthony intends to become a free agent and could sign elsewhere or re-sign with the Knicks.
”New York’s a beautiful place, don’t get me wrong,” Bryant said, insisting he will not recruit Anthony to come to L.A. ”Palm trees and beaches, obviously a little bit more appealing.”
Bryant asserted that Anthony is in a position of strength and can insist the Knicks make additions to become competitive.
”I think from a psychological perspective, as a player you don’t want to get too frustrated about things you can’t control, you know what I mean? So you have to find that balance,” Bryant said.
”At the same time, it’s important for the organization to understand the level of competitiveness that you have, that you won’t tolerate having a team that’s not in contention for an NBA championship, which is what I did. You rub a lot of people the wrong way, but sometimes you’ve got to kick down a few doors and (tick) some people off and trust that it’ll pay off in the long run. And if you’re willing to do that, more times than not you’ll be OK.”