Lance Thomas wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Carmelo


At least one Knick is going to miss Carmelo Anthony. Immensely.

Knicks small forward Lance Thomas penned a gushing, 2,000-word, emotional letter to Carmelo Anthony published in the Players’ Tribune, branding Anthony as an incredible, unsung leader, forever his idol, and sharing an anecdote about him schooling a boastful young Knick who challenged him to a 1-on-1 last season.

In an interview with The Post in May, Thomas expressed similar thoughts in hoping Anthony would remain with the Knicks, saying, “I love him here’’ because he “fights for his teammates.’’

Thomas said Anthony’s leadership is overlooked in the over-the-top tribute.

“There are different kinds of leaders,’’ Thomas wrote. “You aren’t a super vocal guy who’s always giving speeches and ordering people around. That’s not your personality. A lot of your expression occurs on the court. And that’s what made those times you stepped out of your comfort zone to speak out and stick up for your teammates that much more impactful.”

Thomas, who came from Oklahoma City during the 2014-15 season amid Phil Jackson’s firesale, was hurt last season with plantar fasciitis, limiting his impact.

“Those times last season when I was injured and you told me to keep my chin up, and that I was still a really important part of the team — that meant more to me than you’ll ever know,” Thomas wrote. “Plenty of people talk the talk about leadership, but you showed me a lot about what it means to actually lead.”

In the letter, he blamed himself for last season’s 31-51 losing record and not helping Anthony win more here.

“One of my biggest regrets is that I wasn’t able to do more to help you win in New York,’’ Thomas said of Anthony, who was traded to the Thunder over the weekend. “I wanted to win here so badly with you — to win here for you.”

Thomas, like Anthony, was born in Brooklyn and “rocked braids’’ in high school to emulate him. He wrote that when he joined the Knicks, Anthony paid him special mind because of his intensity.

“You didn’t have to — I was a nobody,’’ Thomas said. “Guys on 10-days come through all the time. You had no reason or obligation to look at me twice.’’

Carmelo Anthony at Thunder’s media day

Thomas told the story of Anthony accepting last season’s challenge from a young player on the team, but didn’t name him.

“You guys start playing, and from the jump you just put on a clinic,’’ Thomas said. “Like you’re pulling out all these unbelievable moves and making shots from wherever you want on the court. It was Hoodie Melo times 10. And the whole time, you had that same grin on your face.

“At one point you look up at the guy and say, ‘You know what island you on?’

“And he says, ‘What?’

“‘A lot of people die on this island right here,’ you say. ‘I don’t think you wanted to come here!’ And then you laugh and shout, ‘This is Killigan’s Island!’”

The Knicks face Anthony’s Thunder on opening night, Oct. 19.

“You already know that I’m going to get after you,’’ Thomas said. “You ain’t putting me on Killigan’s Island.’’



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