GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony was among teammates and coaches who visited Cleanthony Early in the hospital on Wednesday after he was robbed and shot in the right knee.
That visit not only helped lift Early’s spirits but made it easier for the Knicks to return to practice Thursday and try to move on from their teammate’s scary incident early Wednesday morning.
“He’s in good spirits,” Anthony said. “So that kind of gave us some good spirits in here today. We came in here, got a good practice in. I don’t want to say put that behind us, but we were able to focus on basketball today.”
Anthony said the players went up in pairs or groups of three to see Early, and it “definitely put a smile on his face. He’ll be back soon.”
Police officials said Early was shot once in the knee and robbed after he and his girlfriend left a strip club in Queens. Early’s vehicle, a Uber car, was boxed in by three cars, police said.
The Knicks haven’t released additional details about Early’s condition or status. Yahoo! Sports reported that he has no structural damage in the knee and that he won’t require surgery.
“That’s a relief,” Anthony said. “That’s a relief not for us but for him as an individual, for his own psyche and mental [state]. For him not to have no surgery and have a chance to heal quickly, he was blessed. He was fortunate. Anybody who can get hit in their knee like that and don’t have to get no surgery, he was fortunate.”
Coach Derek Fisher also went to see Early and felt better about resuming practice. He said the players “were focused” and “competed” as they prepared for Friday night’s game in Chicago.
“We were back to work for sure,” Fisher said. “We feel good about where Cle is and he’s going to be fine, so we don’t feel like we have to continue to worry from that standpoint and we’re thinking about Chicago and getting back to basketball.
“We had several people that went over. I think that’s why we feel good about just getting back to work today and not being overly concerned with his status. I think we feel like we’re clear to do that. He’s in a good spot.”
Anthony said what happened to Early puts “a lot of things in perspective” and that it’s unfortunate that something like this had to occur for “people to reevaluate themselves and reevaluate life and reevaluate everything.”
Anthony said being able to play basketball, and sports in general, is therapeutic at times like this.
“You can’t control what happens off the court, but when you come into this gym, it’s all about basketball,” he said. “It’s therapy. You get a chance to compete. You get a chance to go out there and be better at your craft, perfect your craft.
“Whether it’s here, whether it’s a football field, baseball stadium, a clubhouse, you can go to these places and feel like you’re getting that release.”