WEST POINT, N.Y. -- If you’re looking for Carmelo Anthony to be a vocal leader this season, you might have misguided expectations.
“I lead in my own way,” Anthony said earlier this week. “I will speak up from time to time, but that’s just not who I am, that’s not my personality.”
Anthony's teammates say his leadership takes different forms.
He might not deliver a bombastic pregame speech or throw a locker room chair to motivate his teammates. But over several days in mid-August, teammates say Anthony showed the kind of leadership that might help the Knicks get through some of the rough patches of the grueling NBA season.
It happened in Puerto Rico, where Anthony invited teammates to join him for informal workouts and some team bonding several weeks before the start of training camp.
“That’s definitely leadership,” Lance Thomas, one of the Knicks in Puerto Rico for the workouts, said. “Him putting us in a position where we can start the season before the season starts is big time. Getting to know everybody on the squad, everybody becoming familiar with each other, it's important.”
Seven teammates and a few Knicks staffers joined for the workouts. (A few more showed up for Anthony’s annual charity weekend on the island days later.)
Workouts lasted for about 90 minutes a day. They included working on the triangle offense, some individual shooting and one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three drills.
The Knicks on hand spent the rest of the day hanging out.
“We were like a band of brothers out there,” Thomas said.
For Kevin Seraphin, Anthony’s minicamp was a chance to get to know some new faces.
“I didn’t know anyone, I just got here. Doing this kind of stuff, it made me more comfortable,” he said. “It was my first impression and it was great.”
Anthony has held a charity weekend in Puerto Rico for several years. But he'd never hosted workouts. He said he decided to put together the workout this summer to help all of the new acquisitions get acclimated to one another.
“I didn’t want to wait until now to try and get everybody on the same page. We’d be a little bit behind when it comes to that,” he said.
So what did he learn during the informal training sessions?
“I saw that guys were committed,” he said. “They could have been somewhere else or with family. For them to be there with me and working out and having fun and just enjoying that and kind of wanting to be around not just me, but other guys that were there, was a great feeling.”
The Knicks are expected to struggle this season. It’s hard to find an NBA observer who will predict a playoff appearance for New York. One Las Vegas sportsbook has the Knicks' over/under win total at 31.5.
So these August workouts won’t make up for any talent deficit that the Knicks face on a given night.
But players say that the bonding sessions can have a positive impact on the court.
“Anytime you can get together with guys off the court, it does something for chemistry,” says Kyle O'Quinn, who was in Puerto Rico for the weekend events. “Just having a regular conversation as far as, ‘Do you have kids? What’s your situation at home?’ It brings you a little closer to guys. You respect guys more, you see what guys are all about. It helps with chemistry because on the court you know, ‘Oh he didn’t really miss me [with a pass] because he wanted to miss me. He’s a good dude.’”
Lou Amundson, who lived through most of last season’s miserable 17-win campaign, agrees.
“It shows guys that you’re committed to it and committed to each other. That’s what it’s about,” he said. “It’s about trust and your commitment to one another. Stuff like that goes a long way to building a solid team.”
It’s way too early to tell if the Knicks have a solid team -- or even a competitive one. But a few days spent together in Puerto Rico helped build a little team chemistry.