All-Stars love Anthony, but avoid the ‘Melodrama

Every player at All-Star weekend has been following the

‘Melodrama.

Carmelo Anthony’s agonizingly protracted departure from the

Denver Nuggets has caught the league’s attention, but not everybody

is eager to give advice to the NBA’s sixth-leading scorer.

”When I talked to him, I told him I just want him to be

happy,” Kobe Bryant said. ”I don’t talk too much to him about the

trade because I’m sure he’s talked about it ad nauseam. But every

time I speak to him about it, it’s always him making a decision

that he feels is best for him, and nobody else.”

The East All-Stars have another reason to be wary of counseling

Anthony. After all, if he joins Amare Stoudemire in New York, the

Knicks will become an immediate rival for Miami, Boston and Orlando

in an already crowded conference.

Anthony has spoken to LeBron James about his decision and the

machinations of his potential departure before his contract

expires. James realizes he was in a dissimilar situation last

summer, when the unrestricted free agent took less than a maximum

contract to join the Miami Heat.

”I’m not going to sit here and elaborate on it, because there’s

way too much going on with that whole situation,” James said.

”But I wish the best for him in whatever decision he makes in his

career.”

PICKING SIDES?: The NBA All-Stars heard all about the NHL

allowing two captains to choose their teams at hockey’s All-Star

weekend.

LeBron James doesn’t imagine that will happen any time soon in

hoops.

”No, because Eastern Conference, Western Conference, we don’t

like each other,” James said. ”We wouldn’t pick somebody from the

Western Conference to be over here with us, and I don’t think they

would, either. I don’t think it would work.”

Dwyane Wade pondered the possibility in another way, saying Kobe

Bryant and Kevin Garnett would be the natural choices for

captains.

”But K.G. would pick all of his teammates, and he wouldn’t pick

any of the Heat, so it would be all messed up,” Wade said with a

chuckle. ”That might be fun.”

ROOMIE REUNION: Minnesota forward Kevin Love and Oklahoma City

guard Russell Westbrook are thrilled by one more chance to play

together in their hometown.

Love and Westbrook were roommates at UCLA, and they’re both

first-time All-Stars on the West squad.

”This was a date we both had circled on our calendar,” said

Love, who leads the NBA with 15.5 rebounds per game. ”All those

practices at UCLA, all those talks about what we want to do with

our lives, it’s amazing that it’s all coming true – and it’s in

L.A., where I was born, which is just the icing on the cake. It’s

the perfect place at the perfect time.”

Westbrook is averaging 22.2 points and 8.6 assists for the

Thunder. After getting voted into a reserve role for the West, he

was thrilled to hear about Love’s addition to the team as a

replacement for injured Houston center Yao Ming.

Love’s lofty rebounding numbers don’t surprise his former

teammate.

”A lot of people doubted him because of his size at the (power

forward) position,” Westbrook said. ”He just has big hands and a

great nose for the ball.”

GET YOUR OWN NAME: All-Star forward Blake Griffin has captivated

the basketball world with his raw athleticism and stunning dunks,

producing a highlight-worthy play nearly every time the Clippers

take the court. Some broadcasters are even calling him the Human

Highlight Film.

They’d better not do it within earshot of Dominique Wilkins.

”That name is already enshrined,” the Hall of Fame forward

said with a grin. ”They can’t give him that name. But I think he

has the opportunity to create his own identity, and he’s quickly

doing that.”

Wilkins redefined aerial acrobatics as a nine-time All-Star

during a career spent mostly with the Atlanta Hawks. He even played

part of one season with the Clippers after a trade in 1994, but he

won’t compare his skills to Griffin’s unique attributes.

”It’s nice to have a young guy like that be compared to you,

but we’re two different types of players,” Wilkins said. ”I mean,

there’s similarities as far as power and elevation off the floor,

but he’s a big power forward with a lot of strength. When I was

coming up, I was compared to Dr. J, so that’s the nature of the

NBA.”

DUNK CONTEST: Griffin is the headliner in Saturday’s slam dunk

contest, and the All-Stars almost uniformly think he’s taking home

the trophy.

”You’d put your house up for sale to say Blake Griffin is going

to win,” LeBron James said. ”I just want to see some excitement,

though.”

James’ underdog candidate is Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, a former

USC star, while Dwyane Wade thinks Washington’s Javale McGee has a

good shot.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ”I thought the tighter shorts were far

cooler, and I think they’re going to make a comeback. I’m

serious.” – Boston coach Doc Rivers.

AP freelance writer Victoria Sun contributed to this report.