Anthony, a 10-time All-Star and former NBA scoring champ, was signed by the Blazers last month after more than a year away from professional basketball. Now with an opportunity, Anthony is thriving, being named the Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists while helping Portland turn around a slow start.
“Mentally, [the year] was very challenging,” Anthony told ESPN. “Emotionally, it was very challenging.”
“The physical part was going to take care of itself,” Anthony said. “I was going to stay somewhat fit. I was going to be in the gym. But I think [the walks were] to get my mind right, to get my spirituality and my emotions right, just to get all that stuff right and come back with a clear mind.”
His buddy LeBron has been watching from afar. There were rumors the Lakers would bring on Anthony, but the team decided to go into another direction.
“There were a lot of teams that I thought I was going to be on,” Anthony told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “As far as LeBron goes, it’s something we’ve talked about since we were in high school. It wasn’t in his power. Some people might say it was in his power. But it’s something that I was calling him and talking to him about, asking him, ‘Can you do this for me?’ [But] I would’ve never put him in that position because a lot of times it’s deeper than that and I started understanding the business of basketball.”
LeBron James Happy to see Carmelo Anthony Thriving
James understood what what Anthony was going through and was hoping they’d be able to combine forces.
“I think everyone had doubt. Including himself, probably,” James said. “I always hoped that he would get an opportunity. When his name was brought up with us I hoped that opportunity presented itself as well. When we had our injuries I was hoping he could come be a part of here, and it didn’t happen for whatever reason. But I’m happy that he has the opportunity to go back and play the game that he loves to play.”
The opportunity never manifested with the Lakers but LeBron is ecstatic to see Anthony back on an NBA court.
“Proud of him,” James told The Athletic. “I don’t know if he needed to hear it or not, but I’m [expletive] proud of him. Like, really like a blood brother.
“It’s like, when people throwing stones on you and trying to bury you alive and you able to rise above that [expletive]. That’s amazing. [Expletive] kind of hit home. It’s a beautiful thing. Beautiful thing. Only the strong survive.”
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony Have History
James and Anthony came into the league the same year in 2003 — LeBron as the top pick to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and Melo as the third to Denver.
“Just playing against him is special,” Anthony said, “but I don’t think it’s special like it used to be. It’s a lot different now, we are in different situations.”
The Lakers are a four-point favorite for the game with a total of 224.5.
“It’s going to be rocking,” Anthony told reporters on Thursday.