Portland Trail Blazers fans everywhere had reservations, probably, about bringing in Carmelo Anthony. I was one of those fans saying that he wouldn’t fit and that he brought a limited skillset. We all know how that worked out, and I have made endless apologies for all that I’ve said.
Carmelo Anthony was pushed into a larger role this past season with the Portland Trail Blazers due to injuries and opt-outs for the restart. It was refreshing to see him get so much positive attention, compared to when he was tenured with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. Carmelo deserved better from us, as basketball fans and as human beings.
The constant ridicule that he faced for simply saying that he was better than coming off the bench and wanting to have a starting role on a contender was unfounded and unnecessary. Carmelo is a Hall of Fame player enjoying what he loves to do, and there are so many versions of Carmelo that we have enjoyed.
It started with the athletic, score-first Melo that made playoff runs with the Denver Nuggets for years. Then on to the Knicks, a trade that moved him to one of the biggest stages in the world, New York. Some of the biggest shots of his career were made with that franchise. Him screaming, “This is my house,” after hitting a game-winner against the Chicago Bulls in 2012, still gives me chills today.
The now-beloved ‘Hoodie Melo’ workout videos that made everyone wonder, what could he do for a team that’s looking to win now and add his scoring talent to their team. Since his time with the New York Knicks, though, Carmelo struggled to find a team that wanted him.
The stint with the OKC Thunder was short-lived, and rumors spread that Melo was hard to coach and work with. On top of that, Russel Westbrook dominated the ball, and the second scoring option for that team at the time was Paul George. Melo was forced to the corner for catch and shoot or spot-up threes. He wasn’t the number one guy on the team and wasn’t even the second option.
Getting to the Houston Rockets wasn’t easy and was seemingly a worse fit. The Rockets took a chance with Melo only if he accepted coming off the bench for them. For the Rockets, they had Chris Paul and James Harden, who were the primary options for creating and scoring. It was just more of the same for Carmelo, and he and the Rockets mutually parted ways.
It comes as no surprise that the addition of Carmelo to the Blazers wasn’t accepted at first. Media saw it as his last chance, and many Blazers fans worried that his rumored toxic behavior would not work well in Portland. Blazers fans, to their surprise, got to enjoy some vintage Melo games and play style. Post ups, rebounding, and some perimeter shooting.
Now, where does that leave Melo looking into next season? What do the Blazers do with him, and what they want to do going forward? An important rookie draft is coming up, and with a free agent pool with plenty of wing players that could fill Melo’s role and maybe bring more, Melo might be headed elsewhere. Regardless of what happens or where he goes, I hope he proved all the doubters wrong because I know he proved me wrong.
I hope Carmelo can keep playing in the league, and he finds a team that is willing to take a chance with him. I’m sure his career isn’t over, and he plays another couple of seasons at least.
But how are people going to talk about Carmelo Anthony when it’s all said and done? Will it be the 10 All-Star appearances, the scoring title, and the six All-NBA honors? Will it be difficult to find a team fit for someone who hasn’t evolved their game beyond what their strengths already were?
Melo’s legacy, and how he wants to handle the remainder of his career, is in his hands.