Former New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said he is excited to return to Madison Square Garden for Saturday's game between the Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder, but added he is taking a "business" approach to it.
"At the end of the day, it's business to me. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not ecstatic to be going back and playing there," Anthony said, according to Yahoo! Sports' Michael Lee. "Like I said, I got a different feeling with New York. A different relationship, different bond with the city, with the fans, with the people. It's a little bit special for me."
Anthony, who spent the summer requesting out of New York and was traded to Oklahoma City in September, said he hasn't spent much time observing his former franchise, with whom he spent six and a half seasons.
"We don't talk about that. We don't even discuss that," Anthony told Lee. "I know I don't. I think I've watched New York play two or three times this year. Paul [George], I think, the same thing [with the Indiana Pacers]. It's hard when you're in another conference. Different time zone. So it's very difficult."
Anthony played 412 games as a Knick between February 2011 and last season, averaging 24.8 points, seven rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. However, his tenure as a Knick ended in tumult, having not led the franchise to the postseason since 2012-13 and public disputes with former team president Phil Jackson.
Anthony said in October he would expect to be cheered upon his return to Madison Square Garden, and he told Lee he feels he shouldn't be booed like George did in Indiana given Anthony and Knicks fans shared the same emotions for Jackson, who was fired following the NBA Draft.
Kristaps Porzingis, who played alongside Anthony for his first two seasons in the league but might not play Saturday after suffering a knee injury Thursday, told ESPN's Ian Begley he felt Anthony should be cheered upon his return.
"I think he was as professional as he can be in his time here in New York, so I don't see why they would not receive him with love," Porzingis said, according to Begley.
Added Courtney Lee: "I think more cheers than anything. You can't fault the guy for going out there and playing hard and leaving it all out there on the court and just trying to help the team win. Whether it was the style that some fans wanted or didn't want, he competed night in and night out."
While Anthony said he hasn't been able to follow his old team as much given the Thunder play in the Western Conference, Anthony said he has kept in contact with some of his former teammates.
"A lot of those guys on that team are close friends. We talk, text, call. We always check up on each other," Anthony told Yahoo! "Other than that, I wish them guys the best. I hope New York can do it. They hold a special place for me."