Tonight begins the NBA Playoffs… kinda. The Play-In Tournament tips off in the East, with the Hornets/Pacers in an elimination game, then the Wizards/Celtics trying to keep their seasons alive. The West gets underway on Wednesday night. The Blazers get to watch all of this unfold while comfortably sitting at home, waiting for their first-round series against the Nuggets to begin this weekend.
Recently ESPN.com did a deep dive into the resurrection of Carmelo Anthony, and what he has meant to young NBA players who idolized him growing up. Melo has finally found an end-of-career home in Portland. After the ugly end in OKC and Houston (documented here at The Fizz), it looked like the basketball Hall of Famer wouldn’t be able to even find a job.
“It was a basketball crime of its purest form. Melo is a baller. He’s a hooper. He’s a hooper’s hooper. That’s why he’s so revered and why it bothered so many people. That’s why it was so loud.” – Jamal Crawford, 21-year vet
When the season tipped off last October, Carmelo’s wonderful career was so overlooked even the Nuggets failed to put him on a graphic with five of the greatest players in team history. Ja Morant took notice.
How low did it go before he was picked up by Portland?
“I didn’t even want to go to my son’s tournaments. I was that embarrassed. Because it’s like, you are who you are. You’ve been in this game 16 years playing at a high level and that’s just taken away from you. Nobody remembers that. It was an ego hit. I used to tell my son and wife, ‘Y’all go to this tournament, I don’t think I can handle it.’ I was broken at that point.” – Carmelo Anthony
But young players all around the league still idolized him, including Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
“Players look at him like, ‘We love him, because what he brings to the table, what he’s about, how we grew up,” Crawford says. “And now the disconnect comes because it’s, ‘OK, (coaches) are telling us to play a certain way, but a lot of you guys have never played at this level before.’ So it might be, I grew up watching Melo, I may have had a Melo poster on my wall, may have worn his shoe growing up. And seeing him get buckets, seeing him win.”
Karl Anthony-Towns: “He’s an icon, there’s no doubt about it, and if I had to put my opinion on it, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s one of the best small forwards to play this game, one of the most electrifying players this league has ever seen.”
Devin Booker: “He should’ve never been out in the first place. And all real hoopers know that. There’s not many guys that come through this league that get labeled as an icon. And Melo, Stay Melo, is definitely one of those guys.”
Everyone in Orange Nation knows the legacy he left behind, and his banner that hangs at the Carrier Dome. But as his NBA career flickered, his reputation started to wane. Except for the young generation to watched him and idolized him years ago. They are thrilled he has found a home, and will be on the playoff stage once again this month.