SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – NBA star Carmelo Anthony wants to be known for his good work on and off the court.
This week, Anthony visited 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 the New York Knicks star, whose father is Puerto Rican, has visited 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 court in La Perla, a famous seaside slum in historic Old San Juan.
He will also host a free-admission celebrity softball game Saturday with other athletes, including Knicks teammates Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams, and NBA players 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 and two-time Olympic gold medalist 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.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.