According to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is the hardest man to defend in the NBA. "For me, yeah," Bryant told Stephen A. Smith in an interview Wednesday. "He’s always been a player that I enjoyed guarding the most," Bryant said. "He was the most difficult because of his size and his speed." Bryant added that Anthony, who is averaging 27.7 points per game this season, is a "bull" that "does it all." "Melo does it all and he’s as strong as a bull," Bryant said. "For me, I weight (180 pounds) soaking wet. Going up against that bull, man, it’s fun but it’s extremely challenging." Bryant said Anthony absolutely deserves to be mentioned in the early-season MVP conversation. "Oh, for sure. Is that even a question? I don’t think that’s a question," Bryant said. Bryant will face Anthony and the rest of the Knicks (16-5) Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. He believes the Knicks can contend with the Heat for the Eastern Conference title. "I believe so, because they believe it," he said. "They believe that they belong on that stage now. Whether or not they can overcome that remains to be seen. But they believe they can." "When I watch them play, they play with a belief," Bryant said. "They believe that they deserve to be in this championship conversation. They’re playing with a conviction that wasn’t there before." Bryant said Mike D'Antoni will be determined to leve the Garden with a victory. "We’re stepping into a city that was very stressful for him. (He) left on a sour note. So I’m sure he has a lot of determination to win this ball game," Bryant said. "And we have the determination to win a ballgame."