NEW YORK -- Kobe Bryant considers Carmelo Anthony one of his closest friends in the NBA, but he will not be actively recruiting the Knicks forward to join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this summer.
"Well, everybody wants to play in Los Angeles," Bryant said before the Lakers' 110-103 loss to the Knicks on Sunday when asked about Anthony's potential interest in joining him in purple and gold. "I mean New York is a beautiful place, don't get me wrong, but it is colder than s--- out here. You know, palm trees and beaches obviously are a little more appealing.
"All jokes aside, I think that players, when that time comes, will have to make the best decision for them and their families. I try not to think about it too much. If he wants to call me for advice later as a friend, I will be more than happy to give it to him."
Part of that advice will surely be how the 11-year veteran Anthony can shake his reputation as simply a scorer who hasn't come close to a championship since his days playing for Syracuse University. That reputation was only exacerbated by Anthony breaking Bryant's Madison Square Garden scoring record of 61 points with 62 of his own Friday, but doing it on a Knicks team with a dismal 16-27 record.
Bryant, who won championships in three of his first six seasons in the league, went through a seven-year drought before winning another one, something that took its toll the same way Anthony's ringless career has.
"It is hard, from a psychological perspective as a player, you don't want to get too frustrated about things that you can't control," Bryant said. "You have to find that balance. At the same time, it is important for the organization to understand the level of competitiveness that you have, that you won't tolerate having a team that is not in contention for an NBA championship, which is what I did. It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but sometimes you got to kick down a few doors and piss some people off and trust that it will pay off in the long run. If you are willing to do that, more times than not, you will be OK."
Bryant tried to force a trade from the Lakers in the summer of 2007 when he felt like the organization was content on him selling tickets with his scoring ways, rather than spending money to surround him with talent for another title run. The Lakers responded with trading for Pau Gasol the next season, a move that ushered in championships Nos. 4 and 5 of Bryant's career.
"It can contribute to a lot of frustration," Bryant said. "That is why I was so frustrated with this organization back in 2006 and 2007 because I didn't want to be known as a scorer. I wanted to make sure I had a team around me that could contend for a championship. So this is a team sport. A lot of times you have to work with what you have around you. You have to be lucky in the sense of having an organization that can put a great team around you and be successful."
Anthony can opt out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks to become a free agent come July 1. If he chooses to re-up with the Knicks, he could ink a five-year contract worth $129,135,806. If he signs with another team, like the Lakers, the maximum he can earn is $95,897,372 over four years, according to calculations by ESPN salary-cap expert Larry Coon.