Carmelo Anthony says he wasn't afraid of playing with Kobe Bryant

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In the story that seems to keep on giving, Carmelo Anthony said on Sunday that Kobe Bryant had nothing to do with his re-signing with the New York Knicks.

Carmelo signed with the Knicks because he felt comfortable in New York. I'm sure Anthony also like the five-year, $124 million contract.

The story took on a life of its own when ESPN the Magazine wrote a story last week that quoted several NBA and league sources saying that free agents were hesitant to go to L.A. because they were weary of playing with Bryant.

I'm not afraid 

The Lakers' Jeannie Buss then responded in an ESPN interview, calling players “losers” if they didn't want to play with Kobe. That led, of course, to Anthony being asked about whether he was really afraid of playing with Kobe.

"Hell no. Of course not," Anthony said. "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."

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So what's the real truth?

Carmelo had a lot of options and he's not getting any younger. The reality is, beyond whether Kobe is easy to play with or not, the Lakers simply are not a team that you would think could win now.

The Lakers aren't even the best team in town right now, by a big margin the Clippers are better.

But the other teams he met with – Chicago, Dallas and Houston – all seem closer to winning than the Lakers. At this point, Kobe's health should be a larger concern than actually getting along and sharing the ball with Kobe.

Do Melo and Kobe get along?

Carmelo says that they are fine. In fact, he says he wants to ask Kobe advice on playing in the triangle offense with new coach Derek Fisher.

"If I know Kobe the way I think I know him," Anthony said, "he is more of a person that will let me go out there and see how it works out and then throughout the season I am pretty sure he will be reaching out and say, 'OK, I see this, or I see that.' I am just trying to deal with him and get my own experience in it and if I need advice from other people and really talk to somebody, I have the right people in my phone to talk to."

No problem with Kobe 

"Some guys can feel like he's not easy to work with or play with. But to me, that means you're thinking about the wrong thing if that's what you're focused on."

Fisher, who playing plenty with Kobe himself, said that guys are “thinking about the wrong things” if they don't want to play with Kobe.

"Some guys can feel like he's not easy to work with or play with," Fisher told ESPN. "But to me, that means you're thinking about the wrong thing if that's what you're focused on. He's driving himself towards the ultimate prize of being a successful and maximizing his full potential. If that's the journey that you're on as well, you have no problems.

"He's smart enough to realize that all people are not created that way and sometimes it doesn't make for the team being as successful as it can be. He and I have always been cool because we saw it the same way. We have different personalities, different leadership styles, but that's what made us a great combination."

Eastern Conference
New York Knicks

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