Carmelo Anthony has found the place where he wants to finish his NBA career: Portland. After a year away from the NBA, Anthony signed with the Trail Blazers earlier this season, and he has enjoyed the fit, so much so that he doesn’t want to play for any other organizations moving forward.
“I would love to stay,” Anthony said of Portland in an interview with the Portland Tribune. “I feel like this is the place for me to end my career. It could have happened earlier, but it didn’t. Now, where I’m at in my life and my career — this is where I want to retire.
“I’m happy,” Anthony continued. “I like the group a lot. When I came in, it was like a welcome-home party. I come in and it’s, ‘Thank you for coming’ from everybody … The coaches have been phenomenal with me. We talk almost every day about things I could do to help out with the team and with the young players — things I need to be doing. I’ve been on board with everyone and everything from Day One.”
This doesn’t mean that Anthony plans to call it a career after the current campaign though, as he has previously stated that he plans to play past this season.
“This ain’t a damn farewell tour,” Anthony said back in November. “My love for the game don’t [sic] stop. I don’t know where this ‘farewell tour’ thing came from. I’ve never talked about a farewell tour. I know what I can do and I believe in myself. When a farewell tour comes, it comes. That’s not something I think about. I’m not thinking about retiring right now. I had during this past stretch over the summer. But ain’t no retiring in my mind. I believe in what I have left.”
Previous stops in Oklahoma City and Houston didn’t exactly work out for Anthony, so what has been the difference in Portland? A few factors play into the answer to that question, but Anthony’s acceptance of his role and his standing in the league at this point in his career was a big part of it.
“I had to accept the fact that I’m not going where it’s my team anymore,” Anthony said. “That was the hardest thing. To go from (No. 1) and then overnight, it changes — that was the hardest thing I had to deal with. That was a pride hit, an ego hit. Man, it can happen that fast? You go from being an All-Star averaging 23, 24 points to being the third option on a team. That’s the hardest hit I had. It happened in OKC, but I was happy there. I was into sacrificing and helping us win and seeing if we could get a championship. And then it was on to Houston, where it was, ‘You’re coming off the bench now.'”
It may have been a tough transition for Anthony, but he has made it work, and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has been extremely impressed with how well Anthony has ingratiated himself within Portland’s team dynamic.
“‘Melo’ has been terrific,” Stotts said. “Everybody is impressed with who he is as a person, with how he has come in and fit in both on and off the court. It has been a pleasure to have him … He has provided a certain demeanor and leadership. Because of the career he has had, he has a perspective that his teammates really respect.”
Anthony will be a free agent after the season, so it will be interesting to see if the Blazers want to bring him back. Considering their underwhelming season to this point, the franchise’s future is uncertain. One thing seems certain though: Anthony has used his tenure with the Blazers to prove that he still belongs in the league — something that many doubted prior to the season’s start.