NBA All-Star 2017

Carmelo Anthony canceled trip for 10th All-Star appearance, but he's enjoying it

Shaun Powell

Shaun Powell

New Orleans — Even when he finally gets a break, Carmelo Anthony can’t get a break.

He was named as a replacement for Kevin Love in Sunday’s All-Star Game, making it the 10th such appearance for Melo, and because it came at the last minute, he’s out of a few bucks.

“I had to cancel my trip (to Cuba and Puerto Rico) and there was no refund, so I can’t get my refund back,” he said. Then, after breaking into a smile, added: “It’s a good thing. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m not happy about it. I’ll enjoy the moment.”

Yes, he will. Being in New Orleans did take him away from the islands, but also away from New York and the center of unwanted attention involving his future with the Knicks. Over the last month, Melo has dealt with cryptic tweaks (and tweets) from president Phil Jackson and also the constant and annoying speculation of being traded before Thursday’s deadline.

He’s one of the rare professional athletes who craved to spend his career, or most of it anyway, in the most demanding sports city, and welcomed the good with the not-so-good. But lately, the Knicks haven’t won many games, are once again staring at a non-playoff season, and might need another roster re-do. Meanwhile, Melo is now 32 and slowly fading from his prime, although he’s having a solid season, averaging 23 points and remaining one of the game’s most disciplined and multi-dimensional scorers.

When he didn’t make the All-Star cut after the coaches’ vote, his pride was hurt (“it was a downer,” he admitted), which only added to a season gone wrong. But he’s not feeling that now.

“I was looking forward to getting away from the game, but I’m honored to be here, and humbled,” he said. “This is definitely therapeutic for me being here, not have to deal with certain things back home.”

Melo is also in the company of players whom he considers close friends — LeBron James among them — which makes for an even better weekend.

The other day, Tracy McGrady rushed to Melo’s defense in an interview with the Daily News: “Melo’s better than me because all that stuff that’s going on with Phil, and Phil has the arrogance to sit in the stands, at these games, and I’m playing great basketball, I’d be looking at him every trip down the court or something. Just gazing at him … some players can play through that, other’s can’t. Obviously Melo is showing his mental toughness because playing in the Garden is not an easy place to play. You’re not going to be sending subliminal messages about me and I don’t respond to that. And then you hide and don’t do any media? You leave everything for me to talk about? Nah, that’s not cool.”

Anthony said: “It feels good to have guys who understand what you go through, who have been through what you’re going through, people in the industry who know how it goes, to get to have that support and to have that respect. I’ve been able to have some discussions with guys.”

And what has been the topic of those discussions?

“You know,” he said, laughing. “I can’t escape it.”

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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