London brings back Olympic memories for Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony looks on during a Knicks practice Carmelo Anthony looks on during a Knicks practice before their NBA London Live 2013 game against the Detroit Pistons at O2 Arena. (Jan. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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LONDON -- All the memories of one of his greatest moments in basketball and perhaps his watershed experience as a professional came back to Carmelo Anthony as the team bus drove through the city Wednesday and stopped at the O2 Arena.

This is where Anthony played a more well-rounded game for coach Mike Krzyzewski and helped the United States capture the Olympic gold medal over the summer. The time spent on the court and in the locker room with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James also helped Anthony realize he needed to become more selfless and trust his teammates more.

Anthony came back to the Knicks more committed to winning and has emerged as an MVP candidate this season.

"I put in a lot of work to prepare for the Olympics," Anthony said. "This is where my mindset and my focus started here in London.

"It was a special time in my life, special moment. Just to be back in this arena once again and play one last time in London in front of the fans, who have been gracious to me, I'm excited."

The Knicks will be the visiting team Thursday when they play the Pistons. But the crowd likely will be more pro-Knicks.

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They have more recognizable players, including Amar'e Stoudemire and Jason Kidd. Plus Anthony and Tyson Chandler were here not too long ago, sharing the Olympic experience.

It was the third time Anthony had played in the Olympics and second time winning gold. He also won in 2008 with the Redeem Team in Beijing. But Anthony, 28, is older and wiser now and realizes winning and going deep in the playoffs is more important than scoring.

Anthony still is one of the best scorers in the league. His 29.3-point average ranks second behind Kobe Bryant. But Anthony, who is expected to be named an All-Star starter Thursday night when the NBA announces the fan voting on TNT, continues to say he's fine with shooting less and scoring more, depending on what the Knicks need.

He has worked on finding that balance with this veteran roster and has led the Knicks to a 24-13 record.

"I'm having so much fun this season thus far," Anthony said. "As a team, what we're able to do, how we're playing and coming together that's the exciting time."

Anthony probably hasn't had as much fun lately.

The Knicks' recent inconsistent play aside, Anthony nearly got into an altercation with Kevin Garnett last week, was suspended for one game and concluded a 15-day fast Sunday that he said sapped him of some energy. But he's glad that's over.

"Just something I wanted to do," Anthony said. "I think sometimes in your life you need clarity on some things. You just want to rebuild your body and your mind and just clear everything out and start over again and start fresh."

The Olympic experience in London had a similar effect on Anthony. It helped him refocus and have somewhat of a professional rebirth.

"Just taking the ride back up here to O2 and seeing places I've been before and having the memories come back," Anthony said. "I'm reliving that moment once again."

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