It was the worst of times, but more recently the best of times; an ode to Carmelo Anthony and his comeback season with the Portland Trail Blazers.
They said he wouldn’t. They said he couldn’t. They said everything in between. But to the dismay of most, Carmelo Anthony completed his NBA return, and in a fiery fashion.
When the Houston Rockets cut the 10-time NBA All-Star back in November of 2018, the narratives that took over Melo’s prominent legacy did far from what most would call justice.
Anthony was apart of the legendary 2003 draft class that featured perennial All-Stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. But after lengthy tenures with the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks, he was bounced from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Rockets in just two years.
The former third overall pick found himself unemployed, unwanted, and quite frankly blackballed from a league he once sat with the top tier of names and faces alike. Anthony even went as far as to go on First Take and practically plead with live viewers for a job in the NBA.
Not that he was taking a basketball position equivalent to today’s minimum wage workers. No, he kept faith in his resume and self-presumed worth as a talent, even at 34 years old.
That’s when the stars aligned, and the Portland Trail Blazers injury woes came head to head with Anthony’s desire to get back on the floor. The two parties agreed to a deal for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season in mid-November, just 14 games into the year.
The result? Portland was rewarded with both a starting power forward and the positive publicity that was being the only team to risk bringing Anthony back to the world of the NBA. He finished his 17th season averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 38.5 percent from three.
Anthony helped a Portland team that was often injured and that ultimately found themselves battle for the Western Conference eighth seed in the league’s first-ever play-in tournament. That matchup? None other than James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, Anthony ended his 17th season going head-to-head with James in a game that was far closer than it should have been.
This year had so many noteworthy moments that will live on with Carmelo’s legacy. He climbed the NBA’s all-time scoring list almost monthly, ending the playoffs at 15th all time.
The (now) 35-year old forward hit what seemed like strictly clutch shots for the Trail Blazers, with their most common fourth quarter scheme being a find to him in the corner for three. In early January, Anthony knocked down a game-winning shot in a routing of the Toronto Raptors.
If nothing else, he’s left little question as to his skills as a basketball player and athlete.
That’s quite the statement season for someone who should’ve never been doubted or denied, to begin with. It’s possible that the only flaws of Anthony’s storied career were subjecting himself to franchises who weren’t willing or flat out capable of utilizing his isolation-scoring skillset.
As fans, we’ll want Carmelo Anthony’s career to continue, in Portland or elsewhere.
But maybe Anthony’s gone out and proven everything he was denied over those 12-plus months, all within a lone season as a member of the Trail Blazers.