When the New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets in a blockbuster trade last February, Knicks fans were thrilled to have one of the best young scorers in basketball head over to Madison Square Garden. Anthony, born in Brooklyn and raised in Baltimore, became a monster in the playoffs, averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds and just under five assists per game, including an incredible 42-point performance in Game 2 of the Knicks first round series against the Celtics (New York was eventually swept by Boston).
After watching the Miami Heat reach the NBA Finals with its All-Star trio in their first year playing together, Anthony knows expectations are high going forward. He also knows why the Heat were successful—even if they couldn’t beat Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs when it counted. “They are motivated,” he says. “They understand how to win. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.” Fans expect the Knicks to follow in their footsteps, and he knows it. “We’re on our way,” says Anthony. “We’re working to get to that level.”
But with the NBA locked out, just like the NFL, Anthony has had to fill his time with other things besides basketball. He’s signed on to work with Johnson products, a grooming brand, and with the time off he’ll make sure he keeps his eating habits on track for next season. “I’m big on nutrition and dieting,” he says. “I still eat chicken, but no fried food, no red meat, no bread. I flirt around with diets.” When he was a freshman leading Syracuse University to a national championship in 2003, his eating habits were not as stellar as they are now. “You eat whatever,” he says. “Chicken sandwiches before the game, steaks, anything.”
Anthony is poised to lead the Knicks, along with power forward Amar'e Stoudemire, back to the playoffs next year and out of the first round. He’s one athlete who stays focused on the big picture. “I look at how people will look at me when it’s all said and done,” he says, “and that keeps me going.”