Carmelo Anthony is a forgiving man…in a manner of speaking.
The New York Knicks’ only superstar apparently wasn’t the biggest fan of Sasha Vujacic back in the day. But now that the two are teammates, he’s all about giving Sasha some love.
Per the New York Daily News‘s Frank Isola:
Carmelo Anthony has a history with Sasha Vujacic that dates back to Anthony’s days with the Denver Nuggets and when Vujacic was a backup guard for Phil Jackson’s Lakers.
“I hated Sasha,” Anthony said on Sunday.
“We got into it a couple of times. He was just one of those little dirty players, sneaky, grab your jersey, foul you after the play, speaking in his language. Now, I understand what he was saying to me. So it makes me hate him even more back then.”
Now a teammate, Anthony embraces Vujacic’s style of play and appreciates what the veteran guard, who spent most of the last four seasons playing in Europe, can bring to the Knicks.
“Having him on my team is a big plus,” Anthony said. “Just knowing how feisty he is, he’s a veteran, he knows how to play this game and he knows the system.”
Good thing Melo and Vujacic are all hugs and bro shakes and split milkshakes. After all, what would the Knicks do if their best player didn’t feel a strong sense of affection for a 31-year-old role player who, if head coach Derek Fisher is smart, won’t play many meaningful minutes this season? That would be a disaster.
Instead, Melo and Sasha can yuck it up about the good ol’ days, talking about how much better his Los Angeles Lakers squads were than Melo’s Denver Nuggets. And then Anthony can joke about how much better his career has turned out. But then Vujacic would point out that he has championship rings—two of them—while Melo none. After that, shit might get weird again.
Seriously, though, this is just an NBA thing. Ask a wide variety of players, and they’ll be able to tell you that certain people are the teammates you love to have, but the opponents you hate to face.
Kevin Garnett springs to mind here. He’s a notorious trash talker, someone who gets under the skin of his opponents without remorse and sometimes in poor taste. Think many of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics liked playing against him before he was wearing Beantown green? Probably not. But once he joined the squad, and was infuriating the masses to their benefit, it became a different ball game.
This, or some version of it, is what’s at play in New York between Melo and Vujacic—you know, minus the latter’s ability to turn the Knicks into a genuine contender.