Carmelo Anthony receives standing ovation at Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden will always hold a special place in Carmelo Anthony.
“For me, that love is different. That fanbase is different for me, here in New York,” Anthony told Spectrum Sportsnet prior to the Lakers vs. Knicks game. “They embrace me and I embrace them.”
– Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) November 23, 2021
On Monday night, Anthony was the back at the MSG visiting with the Lakers as part of the team’s five-game Eastern Conference road trip.
Coming off the bench, the 10-time All-Star received a standing ovation from the crowd present at Madison Square Garden.
This was Anthony’s fourth game back at MSG with a third different team since he was traded by the Knicks in the 2017 offseason, and he has yet to record a win in his previous three games.
The 6-foot-7 future Hall of Famer played a major part of his career representing the Knicks – 412 across 6.5 seasons – averaging 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
Anthony provided plenty of memorable moments for the Knicks faithful at the Garden, including his career-high 62-point explosion against the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets).
This season, the 37-year-old has been quite the spark off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 15.2 points through 18 games on shooting splits of 47.3 percent from the field and 46.1 percent from beyond the arc while making a career-high 2.9 3-pointers per game.
In half of the 18 games, he’s scored 15 points or more in nine contests, playing a huge role in multiple of the team’s wins, especially at home.
Carmelo Anthony’s 19-year scoring evolution: ‘I’m still here doing it’
From his days as a rookie with the Denver Nuggets, to becoming a featured act in New York, to picking up monikers based on his apparel, to his preeminence in international competition, Carmelo Anthony‘s basketball reputation has morphed in his 19 years in the NBA.
Yet, as Anthony begins to carve out a role with his sixth franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, some things have stayed the same.
“He’s been a pain on the ass on every one of those teams,” said San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has tailored defensive schemes to try to thwart the No. 9 scorer in league history for nearly two decades now.
Throughout Anthony’s career, just as omnipresent as his megawatt smile, has been his branding as a certified bucket getter.
“A threat,” is how LeBron James described him. “He is a sniper. What we call it in our league — guys that don’t need much airspace to get it off because of his quick trigger.”
Anthony averaged 20-plus points in each of his first 14 seasons with the Nuggets and New York Knicks, winning the scoring title in 2012-13 with 28.7 points per game for New York.
He has scored 50 points four times and topped 40 points 40 times.
“I’m still here doing it,” the 37-year-old Anthony said. “I think that’s what I’m honestly excited about. I’m here in Year 19 still doing what I’m able to do. Still passionate about the game. Still passionate about coming to work every day and getting better.”
While Anthony was the undisputed No. 1 option on those Nuggets and Knicks teams, his role took on different forms in recent stops, refining his game to fit the rosters he found himself on as a complementary player, rather than as the top dog.
Here’s how he got from a supernova with the Nuggets to a high-level role player in L.A.
As the most decorated Olympian (three gold medals, one bronze) in U.S. men’s basketball history, Anthony’s time for Team USA will likely be looked back on as the best basketball of his career.
He started on the 2008 “Redeem Team” in Beijing but was at his peak during the London Games in 2012 as the second-leading scorer behind Kevin Durant, averaging 16.3 points on 53.5% from the field and 50% from 3 off the bench. While Durant averaged 19.5 points during the United States’ 8-0 run to gold, he did it in 26.1 minutes a game, with Anthony playing just 17.9 minutes per game as a reserve.
Anthony averaged more points than James, the No. 3 scorer in league history, and Kobe Bryant, the No. 4.
During that run, he had one of the most mind-boggling performances in international hoops history, scoring 37 points in just 14 minutes and 29 seconds of playing time against Nigeria. Anthony went 10-for-12 from 3 in that game, and Team USA won by 83 points.
“Once he started coming off the bench, it was seamless,” Jim Boeheim, Anthony’s college coach at Syracuse and an assistant on Team USA, told ESPN. “He had the game against Nigeria, he made about a hundred 3s. … It was crazy.”
Anthony is the second all-time leading scorer (336 points) and the top rebounder (125 rebounds) in U.S. men’s basketball national team history.
For Boeheim, who coached Anthony as a teenager when he led the Orange to the 2003 NCAA title, and again years later as part of multiple Olympic teams, it was obvious that Anthony could fit his game to match whatever team he played for.
“The thing that’s interesting is when everybody didn’t want to pick him up three years ago or whatever it was, I told a few people, ‘Well, he’s come off the bench in the Olympics and played well. He does what he does. It’s not like he’s not going to be able to come off the bench and make shots because that’s what he does,'” Boeheim recalled. “So that’s what surprised me a little bit about the whole thing.”
Thunder/Rockets/Trail Blazers Melo
The last half-decade has seen Anthony hop to a handful of teams, including a nearly year-long hiatus when he was out of the league.
“I loved Carmelo,” said Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan, who coached Anthony in OKC. “He was great to work with. I think that it was a really, really hard situation for all of us because the trade for him happened the day before training camp.”
Anthony went from averaging 18.8 shots per game with the Knicks to 15 per game for the Thunder. He started all 78 games he played in the regular season and all six he appeared in during Oklahoma City’s first-round loss to the Utah Jazz. He struggled in the postseason, averaging 11.8 points on 21.4% shooting from 3. This, of course, after setting the tone for his time in Oklahoma City with a news conference answer during training camp that some around the league viewed as him being unwilling to change.
“Who, me?” Anthony quipped back to a reporter when it was suggested that he could come off the bench for the Thunder. “I don’t know where that started, where that came from. Hey, P [Paul George], they said I got to come off the bench.”
Looking back, Donovan said that Anthony’s reputation took an unfair hit.
“All this stuff about starting, coming off the bench, I’ve always found Carmelo to be a really, really good team guy,” Donovan said. “Really good in the locker room. I think guys really enjoy being around him. I think he’s an authentic, genuine, sincere, real guy. And everything we asked him to do, he tried to do to the best of his ability.”
The OKC experiment lasted just one season. Following a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, who waived him following a contract buyout, Anthony formed a new big three in Houston with James Harden and Chris Paul.
And that experiment lasted just 10 games — two of them in which Anthony appeared as a bench player for the first time in his NBA career — before he was told by the Rockets, in essence, to go home. He was eventually traded to the Chicago Bulls and waived without playing a game.
Then came the year-plus period when Anthony was without a team before the Portland Trail Blazers, scuffling along at the start of the 2019-20 season, signed him, with their stars, guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, endorsing the move.
“It was close to almost nobody taking a chance,” Boeheim said. “Just think if Portland hadn’t done that, I don’t think he plays. And then everybody has a whole different outlook on him.”
Anthony started 58 games in his first season with the Blazers and proved he still could perform in the clutch, hitting key late-game jumpers in the seeding round in the Orlando, Florida, bubble.
“He was great,” Boeheim continued. “I mean, he’d go eight minutes without taking a shot and on that team, you might not get a shot. And then he’d make two. And to their credit, they would go to him down the stretch, he would end up making a 3 at the end of the game to win the game. It was crazy, really.”
Anthony played one more season in Portland and came off the bench in 66 of 69 games. In the playoffs, even though Portland lost to the Denver Nuggets in the first round in six games, Anthony fared better as a reserve than he had as a postseason starter with OKC, averaging 12.3 points in 23.9 minutes while shooting 37.8% from 3.
While the Lakers’ season has been up and down, Anthony has been a bright spot.
Through his first 18 games, all but three of which he came off the bench, he’s shooting a career-best 46.1% from 3. Anthony has been even better at home, where the L.A. crowd has quickly fallen in love with him, shooting 53.2% from 3 — best in the NBA for any player playing in home games with a minimum of 30 3-point attempts.
“He knows who he is as a player and he finds places to be where he can be helpful, and this is a great example of that,” said Popovich of Anthony’s success in L.A. “He’s done it again. He takes care of himself. He’s a pro. And he makes every team better. So, I’m just happy for him.”
Anthony is averaging 15.2 points on just 11.2 shots per game and is often being asked to fill the wings and get open. He has made 47 catch-and-shoot 3s this season, the best in the league heading into Monday’s games, edging Milwaukee’s Grayson Allen (46), according to Second Spectrum tracking.
“He’s in a great rhythm,” James said. “He’s just taking his shots and knocking them down.”
While Anthony hasn’t gone so far as to chastise the Rockets for alienating him and the 28 teams other than the Blazers for not signing him, he has relished in his time with the Lakers.
“As far as what I can do on the court, I don’t think that’s going to change,” Anthony said. “I don’t require a lot. I pick my spots, I get to open spots, I shoot when I’m open, my teammates look for me. Now, I’m not the every possession guy coming down the court when the offense is playing through me, so I’m able to see the game differently, from a different perspective.”
Anthony has already garnered some Sixth Man of the Year buzz and has been key to the Lakers’ success. L.A. is 7-2 this season when Anthony scores 15 points or more, and he is a huge difference-maker for the offense. The Lakers average 108.6 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the court and just 97.0 points per 100 possessions without him. That differential in offensive rating, a plus-11.6, is tied with James for the largest on the team.
“I don’t think that he would say that he’s looking at it as a role player,” Boeheim said. “I think when he goes in, he’s looking at it as, ‘I’m going to put points up there.’ You average 14-15 a game in what, 22-23 minutes? That’s almost star-quality play. So I think when you go in, whoever you are, you got to think, ‘I’m a star.’ And he believes in himself, he always has, and there’s reason for it. He’s good. I mean, he’s proven.
“What’s he, the f—ing ninth all-time scorer in the NBA? That’s pretty good.”
Carmelo Kyam Anthony (born May 29, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has been named an NBA All-Star ten times and an All-NBA Team member six times. He played college basketball for the Syracuse Orange, winning a national championship as a freshman in 2003 while being named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. During the NBA’s 75th anniversary, he was named one of the 75 Greatest Players in NBA History.
After one season at Syracuse, Anthony entered the 2003 NBA draft and was selected with the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets. While playing for Denver, he led the Nuggets to the playoffs every year from 2004 to 2010; the team won two division titles in that span. In 2009, Anthony led the Nuggets to their first Conference Finals appearance since 1985. In 2011, he was traded from Denver to the New York Knicks days before the NBA trade deadline. In a January 24, 2014, game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Anthony scored a career-high 62 points, setting a Knicks’ single-game scoring record and a Madison Square Garden single-game scoring record. Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he played one season before a short stint with the Houston Rockets. He spent two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers prior to joining the Lakers.
Anthony has played in the Olympics for the US national team a record four times, winning a bronze medal with the 2004 squad and gold medals on the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic teams. As of April 2016, he was the US Olympic team’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, and games played.