Carmelo Anthony thought this might really be it.
Few players get to leave the game on their own terms, and the realization was dawning on the future Hall of Famer he would be one of the many. After regressing then getting played off the floor in the playoffs for Oklahoma City, then only lasting 10 games in Houston, the market for Anthony had dried up. No offers came last season after he was released, then no offers came this summer.
Anthony admitted to Rachel Nichols of ESPN on The Jump that he thought his time in the league might be done. He said he was coming to grips with the idea he may have played his last NBA game.
“I was preparin’ myself. And I had prepared myself to kinda just walk away from the game if the right situation didn’t come about…
“I was ready to walk away, yeah. I mean, ’cause it’s hard, waking up every morning, not knowing what to expect, not knowing what to do, not knowing what to work on. You know, wanting to give up hope, wanting to give up faith and belief and just, like, you know, just forget this whole basketball thing.”
An offer did come from a banged-up Portland team desperate for help along the front line — and ‘Melo has shown he still has plenty in the tank. He’s averaged 17.7 points, six rebounds, shooting 37 percent from threes (and doing well on catch-and-shoots) and being what the Blazers needed. Anthony was named Western Conference Player of the Week last week.
He feels wanted on Portland and added that is what matters.
“So a situation like Portland, where I could just come in and just play my game and have a group of guys that really want me, and the organization that want me… There’s no better feelin’ than when you feel wanted. And I think that’s what kinda keeps me motivated and understandin’, like, this situation is — it is and was the best situation for me.”
Anthony also said all the time off let him get his body and mind right. He’s been good, not great (he’s still a defensive liability), but he’s also been what Portland needed. He’s a guy respected in the locker room giving them quality minutes.
If he keeps it up, he may get to leave the game on his terms.