Fans at Sunday's Knicks open practice at the Garden showed their affection for Carmelo Anthony with "MVP'' chants during a Q&A session.
Anthony, who flirted with several teams before re-signing with the Knicks in the offseason, returned the love.
"This is home, no doubt about that,'' he told fans. "I had an opportunity to look elsewhere. At the end of the day, this is where my heart is at.''
One of the elsewheres Anthony looked at was Chicago. It just so happens the Bulls will be the Knicks' Opening Night opponent Wednesday at the Garden.
"I knew that was going to happen,'' Anthony said before practice. "I kind of knew they were going to throw that game on the schedule first. I was kind of prepared for that mentally, being excited for that moment, knowing the offseason I had. The whirlwind and the tour, it was a lot, and Chicago was one of the teams I highly considered at that time. To open up against them on our home court, that's where it starts at.''
Anthony said he will not be playing the what-if game during the opener when he sees the talented Bulls, who are expected to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
"My mind-set is not there right now,'' he said. "I'm focused on building it here in New York. I can't go out there worrying about them and think this is where I could've been.''
While the subject of where Anthony didn't go was being discussed, he also said he was not scared away from joining the Lakers because of Kobe Bryant. (A recent ESPN report said free agents don't want to play with the ultra-critical Bryant.)
"Hell, no,'' Anthony said. "If I thought that was the right situation for me from an overall perspective and having a team, I would've looked at that situation more in-depth. I just thought I was more comfortable playing here now. I would always like to play with Kobe.''
But none of this was brought up by Anthony. Inquiring minds wanted to know, so he answered. He did say, "I don't want to talk about the Bulls right now.'' But then he did.
"I have a lot of insight ,'' Anthony said. "I have a better understanding what they're about. The organization, the players, Coach [Tom Thibodeau], the front office, ownership. [Thibodeau's] knowledge of the game and what he brings to the game, his excitement and enthusiasm. It doesn't get better than that. I give them a lot of credit. They were very impressive.''
Notes & quotes: The Knicks confirmed that Andrea Bargnani (hamstring) will miss at least the first three games of the season . . . Jose Calderon (calf) said he hopes to play Wednesday . . . The Knicks are expected to cut ties with Travis Outlaw on Monday, even if it means eating his $3-million contract. That means Travis Wear, originally slated for the D-League, will make the 15- man roster.