Carmelo Anthony gets second homecoming in Baltimore

Carmelo Anthony reacts after a basket against the

Carmelo Anthony reacts after a basket against the Boston Celtics during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. (April 23, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Carmelo Anthony is going home, again.

For all the hype over Anthony's New York homecoming when the Knicks acquired him, it was easy to forget much of Anthony's childhood was spent in Baltimore. Born in Brooklyn, Anthony moved to Baltimore when he was 8, and that's where he cut his teeth as an emerging basketball talent.

Thursday night, Anthony returns with the Knicks to Baltimore, to his other home city, for a preseason game against the Washington Wizards. It's his first professional game there since his high school days.

"I was born in Brooklyn, man . . . but where I really learned my life skills was in Baltimore," Anthony said Wednesday after practice. "That's the city that raised me. Brooklyn will always be in my blood, will always be in my heart. But Baltimore is the city that definitely raised me."

When Anthony first heard the Knicks were set to play a preseason game in Baltimore, he said he didn't take the news seriously. Preseason game in Baltimore, come again?

"I thought it was a joke," he said.

Once Anthony learned it wasn't, he immediately grew excited, and understandably so. No one needs to tell him just how rare it is to play in an NBA setting in front of a lot of extended family and friends who don't normally watch him in person.

Except for a charity game during the 2011 lockout, Anthony has played only summer pickup games in Baltimore over the last decade.

This summer also marked the first time Anthony didn't make it back to Baltimore; he said he was too busy rehabbing the shoulder he injured in the playoffs. But if there's any regret over not going home, it's sure to be overshadowed by the excitement he said everyone feels over Thursday night's game.

"I really didn't understand it and feel the energy that's back in the city right now until I started getting the phone calls and the texts," he said.

He laughed when asked about ticket requests. Someone else handles that for him.

"But just everybody's talking about how excited they are for the game to be back in Baltimore, and for me to come back and play in front of that crowd," Anthony said. "When you're on the outside looking in you really don't feel the energy and adrenaline that's going on back there"

Frank Remesch, the general manager of 12,500-seat Baltimore Arena, said, "With any kind of walk-up we will be sold out." Anthony expects the atmosphere to be "loud" and "exciting in there."

According to Anthony, the neighborhood friends that he kept in touch with from Baltimore were "absolutely" annoyed by all the talk of Anthony coming home to New York when the Knicks acquired him. "They don't like that, but they know my story," he said. "They know where I was born and where I was raised at."

Mike Woodson said he'll talk to Anthony before the game about his playing time, but the Knicks coach knows that this game still is nothing more than a tuneup for the games that count.

"I haven't played any of the veteran guys very many minutes," Woodson said, "so if we give him 20 to 25 minutes that will be plenty for me."

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