OKLAHOMA CITY — Carmelo Anthony sat at the table wearing a gray hoodie and a white jersey with his trademark No. 7 highlighted in blue and orange over his long-sleeve selection.
Hours before, he had penned a heartfelt goodbye letter to Knicks fans on his website, thisismelo.com.
Monday afternoon, he was wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder jersey following a whirlwind weekend that saw the 33-year-old veteran OK a trade away from home.
A strenuous tenure with the Knicks, Anthony embraced his new team that features friends MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George. A new Big 3 was formed.
“I want to be able to do what I do best within the confines of the system and being able to work alongside Russ and PG,” Anthony said.
Oklahoma City certainly wasted little time to embrace Anthony.
When he arrived at Will Rogers World Airport on Sunday, hundreds of fans lined up along the fence to greet him.
“Unbelievable,” Anthony said. “To go from a situation where it was an emotional rollercoaster for me back in New York, at times very strenuous on myself and my family . . . to come here on the flip side of that, to feel that passion and that energy, anytime you feel wanted and appreciated you can’t put your feelings into words.”
Anthony was traded to Oklahoma City for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick. He had to waive his no-trade clause and his 15-percent kicker for the trade to happen.
The move gives him a stronger shot to win an elusive ring, albeit in the loaded Western Conference.
Westbrook averaged a triple double last season while winning the MVP. George forced his way out of Indiana and was traded to the Thunder. Now, Anthony joins the mix aiming to bring home a ring in possibly the trio’s lone season together.
“Amazing, man,” Westbrook said of the trade. “To be able to play with those two guys and the rest of the guys we have is amazing. I’m looking forward to it, man. It’s going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to making a run.”
But all three are dominant scorers. Can this work? Can the Thunder challenge Golden State?
“I didn’t want to come here to try to outshine Paul or Russ, and vice versa,” Anthony said. “We’re trying to win basketball games. I’m going to bring my skillset to this team and this organization. That’s what I’m here for.”
Anthony’s tenure with the Knicks was mostly filled with disappointment. He grew frustrated with the organization, which reached the playoffs his first three seasons but only won one series. The Knicks failed to make the postseason the past four years.
But Anthony won’t forget his time in New York.
“I came to NYC to B (Be) Born again,” he wrote in the letter entitled “Dear New York.” “The sense of something extraordinary happening left me with a lot of sleepless nights dreaming of possibilities. The one thing I kept telling myself was ‘Make my mark in NYC and I’d be a made man’.”
Now, he feels he has a chance to make his mark elsewhere.
“I will always feel like a major, major part of that city,” Anthony said. “That’s not going anywhere. I just want those fans to understand that this was a business decision, this was a career decision and it happens. It’s sports. There’s times in sports where everybody’s got to go their separate ways.
“There’s no hard feelings, there’s no bad blood between myself, that organization or anybody over there, but I’m here now. I’d like to close that chapter and begin this chapter.”