It looked like Carmelo Anthony’s NBA career was over. The veteran forward had been out of the league for more than a year following a brief and ineffective stint with the Houston Rockets last season, where the team was outscored by 63 points in his 294 minutes before release. This followed a disappointing season with the Oklahoma City Thunder a year prior, when Anthony posted the lowest true shooting percentage of his career and bristled at coming off the bench.
Anthony finally found the opportunity he had been openly campaigning in Portland after agreeing to a non-guaranteed deal with the Trail Blazers. The Blazers are giving him a chance out of desperation after starting the year 4-8 while decimated by injuries despite MVP-caliber play by Damian Lillard.
Anthony is one of the greatest scorers of his generation, but at 35 years old, NBA teams seemed in agreement that the game had passed him by. If front offices no longer love Anthony, his peers certainly still do. News of his signing caused an outpouring of admiration from NBA players and other prominent athletes, while also earning the approval of Lillard.
Melo’s signing was celebrated by other athletes
Damn this fight taking away from Melo shine ♂️
— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) November 15, 2019
(Gurley, a running back for the Los Angles Rams, was referencing the brawl that marred the end of the Browns-Steelers game)
Anthony seems particularly revered throughout sports, both from the players he entered the league with and the latest generation of stars. Why does he still resonate with other athletes? We have a few theories.
Why Melo is still so revered
- Players respect his one-on-one scoring ability more than GMs. Anthony was still being voted as one of the toughest players in guard by his peers as his play started to slip. While Anthony has obvious shortcomings as a defender and passer, players still respect his ability to get buckets from mid-range out to the three-point line. It might not always be efficient or come at end of dazzling ball movement, but when Melo is really locked in, players know his size, craft, and shooting touch is so hard to stop.
- Anthony is authentic. No one has ever accused Anthony of being anything other than himself. From his sense of style entering the league to his refusal to change how he plays, Melo’s ability to keep it real is one of his most endearing qualities.
- Anthony is friendly and kind. Melo just seems like a cool person who treats everyone he works with well. Playing in the Olympics four different times and hanging around the league as long as he has allowed Anthony to get to know so many different players. It sure seems like everyone who’s met him likes him.
- Anthony carried the “old school” of basketball into present day. Anthony’s peers seem to think he’s gotten a raw deal from a generation analytics-driven analysts who lamented his mid-range shot selection and defensive shortcomings. Anthony has so many of the qualities the great players of yesteryear also held without having to face the same criticism. He plays with individual heroism that people adore.
- Melo has done a lot of great work off the court. Anthony has grown into one of the most outspoken activists in sports.
- Melo is an icon. From leading Syracuse to a college national championship as a freshman to winning three Olympic gold medals, Melo has had a legendary career. It’s great to see him get a chance to end it on his own terms.