Carmelo Anthony foundation targets Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico— New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is in Puerto Rico to unveil remodeled basketball courts at a public housing complex and play a bit of softball with celebrity friends.
It is the third time Anthony visits the U.S. territory in as many years to rebuild basketball courts through his charitable foundation.
“There’s plenty of kids down there who need role models,” he said during a press conference Thursday. “I grew up in a situation like that… It was survival of the fittest.”
The two newly remodeled courts, located in the northern city of Bayamon, are used by the island’s top minor league players and have produced players now part of the island’s Superior League, said Sports and Recreation Secretary Henry Neumann.
“It is an emblematic court,” he said.
About 350 children currently use the two courts, which are within the Magnolia Gardens public housing complex. They will be unveiled on Sunday.
Last year, Anthony and his foundation restored a basketball court in the northern coastal town of Luquillo, and in 2010, they refurbished a popular basketball court in La Perla, a famous seaside slum in historic Old San Juan.
The Knicks forward also is holding a free celebrity softball game on Saturday with athletes including Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Bernie Williams, Marcus Camby and J.J. Barea.
Anthony said he was looking forward to bonding with the Knicks’ new and younger players and dismissed criticism that he and Stoudemire aren’t working well together.
“We sit in the locker room (and) laugh about all the comments,” he said.
The five-time All Star player and two-time gold medal Olympic winner said the Knicks also are mourning the departure of point guard Jeremy Lin, who joined the Houston Rockets in July.
“I know it was kind of hard for the Knicks to let him go,” Anthony said. “(The Houston Rockets) played the free agents’ market to a ‘T.’”
Anthony, whose father was Puerto Rican, said he expects to refurbish more of the island’s courts in the future.