Though Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the New York Knicks this summer instead of the Lakers, he claims it wasn’t because of his hesitancy to play with Kobe Bryant.
Last week, ESPN The Magazine released a report quoting Lakers and NBA insiders saying Bryant has hurt the Lakers chances to attract big-name free agents.
Anthony recently told ESPN that Kobe had nothing to do with his decision to stay in New York:
“Hell no. Of course not. If I thought that [playing for the Lakers] was the right situation for me from an overall perspective as far as having a team there, then I would have looked at that situation more in-depth. I just felt more comfortable staying here in New York. But as far as playing with him … I’m here now but I would always love to play with Kobe.”
Bryant was supposed to attend the Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Anthony, but couldn’t make it back in time from a European vacation. Anthony says he and Bryant still spoke on occasion:
“He wasn’t calling me every day and like, ‘Get over here! I want you here! We had conversations about different situations whether it was in New York or in L.A., but it wasn’t to the point where it was non-stop calling or texting or stuff like that.”
Though the Lakers offered Anthony their maximum four-year, $US96-million contract, Anthony chose to stay with New York for five years, $US124 million. Besides for the massive pay difference, Anthony grew up in New York and has said he wouldn’t feel right leaving the Knicks without winning a championship.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who won five championships with Kobe, also defended him saying players are “thinking about the wrong thing” if they find it hard to work with Bryant.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.