Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
“That’s the only thing I care about,” Anthony said Monday, referring to winning an NBA title. “Everything else is irrelevant to me as far a when it comes to basketball. Championship is the only thing. In my mind that’s the only thing I want to accomplish, the only thing I want to achieve and I’m gonna do everything I can to get that.”
He added: “That’s my motivating factor. Nothing else even motivates me anymore, just that.”
Anthony is set to become a free agent in the summer, and his wife, La La Anthony, said this week on Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live” that she would be surprised if her husband were to leave the Knicks.
“I definitely think he will stay,” she said. “I know that he wants to stay, and I support him wherever he wants to go.”
Lakers star Kobe Bryant indicated Sunday he wouldn’t mind playing with Anthony. Bryant and Anthony are friends, and Kobe said he would be happy to offer Anthony “advice” when the time comes.
Chicago has also been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Anthony should he opt to leave the Knicks.
“When that time comes for me to figure out what I want to do with my future, then I’ll deal with that during that time,” Anthony said.
Bryant said Sunday that all players are eventually judged by whether or not they win at least one championship, and that stars like himself and Michael Jordan had to win NBA rings to “shake” the perception that they were just scorers — and not winners.
“The important thing is winning a championship,” Bryant said.
Anthony said that his thinking has evolved over his career, and that winning a title has become increasingly important across his NBA career.
“It’s different levels that you go through in this game,” he said. “When you first come in, you’re excited to get your feet wet. Then there comes a stage where you kind of established yourself about who you gonna be as a person and then it’s years where like now, where the only thing that’s on your mind is a championship. And that’s where I’m at at this stage of my career.”
In fact, he said, he thought he would already have one by now.
“I think everybody thinks that they would have a championship,” he said. “I mean, you go into the year every year saying I think I’m going to win a championship this year. You look at the team in preseason and training camp and think this is going to be the team every year, and so I think that’s always going to be a mindset.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said it’s natural for a player to get more motivated as they get older.
“Well, sure they do, we all do,” Woodson said. “As coaches, as players, this NBA life is a short-lived life. You look at guys that play anywhere from 10-15 years in the league, it goes by awfully fast and you look back and you say, ‘Wow, what happened?’ Did I get anything accomplished during the tenure that I played and Melo, he understands that, and most players should understand it because you can easily be an injury away from not playing. A lot of things play into desperately trying to win a title, we all chase it. I’ve been chasing it, too, as a head coach.”
The Knicks (17-27) are obviously under-performing, but Anthony said he has no alternative but to try to right the ship, even if that means taking even more of a scoring load. He went for a Knicks’-record 62 points on Friday and then scored 35 in Sunday’s win over the Lakers.
“We’re having our troubles right now but we gotta deal with that,” he said. “I can’t turn my back and just say I don’t want to deal with that….Hopefully, we get through this slump that we’re in and make a push.”
The Knicks are still on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, to say nothing of being a title contender, and Anthony said he would evaluate how that impacted his free agency decision when the summer comes.
“It’s hard to say at this very moment how it affects me,” he said. “But for me I gotta keep that motivation into the now. And when that time comes we’ll deal with that situation then.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.