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NEW YORK -- Now that LeBron James has done it, Carmelo Anthony is ready to shed the label of one of the best players in the NBA without a title.
"I believe that my time is coming," Anthony said Tuesday morning at Madame Tussauds New York during an unveiling of his own wax figure. "I'm a big believer in that, whether it's this year or next year. I truly believe that my time is coming and we're going to keep playing for that."
Anthony has been working hard in the offseason to get there after being criticized in past years for carrying extra weight into training camp. After the Knicks lost to the Heat in the first round of the playoffs, Knicks coach Mike Woodson suggested that Melo, along with a few of his teammates, needed to get into better shape. Anthony has since undertaken a rigorous training program in the Los Angeles area that's helped him shed 12 pounds and feel lighter on his feet at 239 pounds.
Anthony also has worked out with teammates Tyson Chandler and Jeremy Lin a few times.
A few days ago, Woodson, along with members of the team, flew to LA and were impressed with what they saw from Anthony.
"Me and coach Woodson talk, and me and the training staff talk, and there are some things that they would like to see coming back into this season," Anthony said. "Right now, I exceeded their expectations, and when they saw me the other day, they were kind of shocked to see me down in weight. They came to my workout, they saw it. They're actually excited about how much hard work that I'm putting in and the things I'm doing right now."
Anthony has found inspiration in watching his friend James win a title with the Heat.
He said that James' accomplishment made him feel "extra motivated," especially because the Finals MVP was able to quiet the critics who said he couldn't win the big game. Those same critics haven't left Melo alone since he arrived in New York in Feb. 2011 after a blockbuster trade, simply because he's the Knicks' best player.
"The motivation is fun at this point in time just to see those guys and see how excited they were to win that championship and see LeBron overcome everything that he's been going through and that's been said about him," said Anthony, who talked to James and Dwyane Wade right after Game 5. "And for him to finally get it, I couldn't be more excited for him to get that. But for me, it's motivation and it's exciting."
In addition to the workout meeting, Anthony, Woodson, a.ssistants Jim Dodd and Darrell Walker, as well as Lin and Chandler, met for dinner and discussed team preparation for next season.
"It was good, man," Anthony said. "Myself, Tyson and Jeremy was out there in LA working out and training and things like that, and the coaching staff came out there and gave their support. The training staff was out there. We're just trying to get that camaraderie right now, that family mentality and trying to create a bond -- not just on the court, but off the court as well right now."
Anthony reflected on the past season, calling it a "roller-coaster" and one in which "injuries were our downfall." But he's very encouraged by next season, saying it was a "great thing" that the Knicks re-signed Woodson. Melo said with a full season ahead, which would be his first in New York (with no trade or lockout), it'll give the team the needed time to jell.
"We've got to be together for a minute," he said. "All the teams that won over the years have been together for multiple years and they've been through a lot of stuff. We had three fourths of a season last year to deal with what we were dealt with. This year, we want to come in with a clean plate. We've got a full year. I'll be here for a full year, our team will be here for a full year, training camp. We won't have nothing to worry about. It's just basketball and locking in at this point."
Anthony wouldn't specify which free agents or kinds of players the Knicks need, but he hinted what could prevent new players from joining the team.
"Money always comes into play, so that's a big thing," he said.
If the Bird rights ruling stands, the Knicks can sign Lin and Steve Novak over the salary cap and will have a mid-level exception of $3 million to spend, likely on a seasoned veteran point guard. But that amount could still be lower than what Steve Nash, Andre Miller and Raymond Felton could fetch in free agency.
Regarding the wax figure, Anthony said it was the coolest thing that's happened to him since he's been in New York. He said he worked on the project after practice one day this past season, posing for about six hours, so the wax figure team could begin the design process.
"This is the No. 1 thing," he said. "I never imagined first just me being in this museum representing New York like this. This is at the top of my list."
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony on LeBron James' title: 'My time is coming' - ESPN New York