I let it be known that I’ve been a Carmelo Anthony fan from jump. I was the guy who had a Denver Rockets Carmelo throwback during my days at City and wore it proudly. I’m the guy who went on eBay to buy a pair of Melos over the LeBrons. Even when I said “hey, maybe Carmelo should have a bench role,” I still wanted to see him in the league. It could be because he was (somewhat) a homegrown talent, as he grew up mainly in Baltimore. It could be that I connected with Melo, being a guy who had seen it all but still shined. It could also be that he was always real about his flaws and errors along the way. Whatever the case may be, Carmelo Anthony has been one of my favorite players from the 2000s and beyond.
When he was out of the league for most of the 2018-2019 season, I read all of the takes, even the ones I didn’t agree with (such as “he’s outmatched in a run-and-gun league” and things of that nature). I thought it was wild that a guy who would light it up was out of the league. Yes, Carmelo’s defensive efforts weren’t A-1, but he was far from a scrub. It wasn’t like he was Glen Davis or anything. Melo kept his nose clean, he was a prolific scorer, and he showed that he was capable of still playing at an NBA level.
Yet, those phone didn’t ring until a few weeks ago.
Anthony made mention that he was ready to retire had the Portland Trail Blazers not called him in November. The idea that his career would’ve came to such an unceremonious end saddens me. It does so not just as a Melo fan but a fan of the game. It reminded me of how folks like Baron Davis faded away. We want our favorites to play as long as they can, as hard as they can. It’s selfish, in some ways, since they are still human. Eventually, we all break down and return to the Earth from whence we came. But if they can still go, why not give them a chance? Sage-like leadership can rub off onto younger players.
In a small sample size from this year, Carmelo Anthony has showed us that he can still go. His defense looks mostly rejuvenated. His offense is still Melo fresh. His energy provides for Portland in a way only a seasoned vet with something to prove can. Plus, as his recent interview have suggest, he’s grown as a person. He’s still confident in his abilities, but there’s a larger sense of humility in his words. He wants to play, but not at the detriment of his team. He stated he wouldn’t want to put LeBron James in a sticky situation just to garner playing time with a team. He knows that, at 35, he is no longer always the greatest player on the floor all the time.
But he’s still good. Damn good.
His recent Western Conference Player of the Week away showed that. Will he keep it up? I hope so, since we like to see our favorites prosper. It’s also a part of the communal nature of sports. When our favorite players or teams win, we feel a bit of a win ourselves. There’s a certain connection with the player/team and those around us who also like said player/team. All this is to say “Melo back.”
And I couldn’t be happier.