Carmelo Anthony got real Monday night. Appearing on The Uninterrupted’s “After Party” recap of “The Last Dance,” the 10-time All-Star revealed he went to a dark place after his career teetered out in 2018 and even considered giving up basketball until he returned to the NBA as a Portland Trail Blazer in November.
“I don't think nobody will understand what I went through emotionally to get through and to be where I'm at today,” said the 35-year-old Baltimore native. “I'm talking about doubting myself. I'm talking about mentally wanting to give up." In the span of a year, Melo went from being an All-Star with the New York Knicks to a forgotten man, struggling through difficult stints with Oklahoma City and Houston (he also spent a few days on the Hawks and Bulls’ rosters, but never played for them) before waiting almost 10 months for his next NBA opportunity.
“Getting traded the day before media day to OKC. Going to OKC, actually really liking it, didn't work out for whatever reason, to going to Houston the following year to playing nine games,” said Carmelo, describing the circumstances that led to his prolonged NBA absence. “The first time I've ever come off the bench in 15 years. Ever. So that was an adjustment for me.”
Melo wouldn’t have been the first hoops star to have his career end in anticlimactic fashion. And while Anthony’s ball-reliant, isolation-heavy style isn’t an ideal fit in today’s fast-paced NBA, it’s still somewhat baffling the Syracuse alum had to wait the better part of a year for his phone to ring.
“I hit rock bottom emotionally and I had to build myself back up—basically by myself—to get here, where I’m at today,” said the 17-year vet during his hour-long chat with host Paul Rivera, LeBron James’ business partner Maverick Carter and WNBA star Sue Bird. “This season will always be one of the highlight chapters of any story that I tell.”
Despite a longer than expected layoff, the 6’8” forward didn’t show any rust in his return to the NBA this year, averaging a respectable 15.3 points per game on 42.6-percent shooting (37.1 percent from deep) in 50 games before the league shut down amid coronavirus fears in mid-March. Anthony’s contract expires after this season, but he’s certainly shown enough to warrant interest either in Portland or elsewhere in 20-21.