BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For the first time in two years, New York Knicks player and Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony will hit the court in Charm City. He faces off against the Washington Wizards Thursday night.

As Gigi Barnett reports–Anthony’s community center is also celebrating.

Back on his home turf. New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony is ready to face off against the Washington Wizards. But he says he’s more excited about playing in front of a crowd packed with family and friends at the Baltimore Arena.

“Tomorrow’s going to be different. This is my first time actually coming back during my professional career. To be able to play here, the energy is going to be ecstatic in there tomorrow,” Anthony said. “I think, most importantly, just for me to have this game back here in Baltimore. Not too many people can say that.”

The exhibition game on Thursday is the first time Anthony has played professionally in Charm City. But the star forward is also in town celebrating an extensive renovation to his youth center in East Baltimore.

The basketball court gleams now, more artwork lines the walls and it boasts all new backboards, nets and rims.

“I always wanted to do a rec center. I mean, this rec center’s been open for the past six, seven years. I did it before, but they needed something new. They needed something fresh,” Anthony said.

The last time Baltimore had a pro team was back in 1973. The city has tried to attract one.

It’s something Anthony would like to see for his hometown.

Anthony: “This city right here, they need a sports team, a basketball team. They’ve got the Ravens, they’ve got the Orioles. So we need a basketball team now.”

Barnett: “Would you consider leaving the Knicks to come home and play?”

Anthony: “By the time that team gets here, I’ll probably be retired by that time.”

According to the arena, tickets for Thursday night’s exhibition game have sold well–much better than they did the last time the Wizards played in Baltimore. Carmelo Anthony could play in front of a packed house.

Tip off is Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Baltimore Arena.

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