For the first time in over a year, Carmelo Anthony returned to an NBA court, suiting up for the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night.
The former New York Knick accepted the possibility that his NBA career might be over, but the Blazers were willing to give the 35-year old forward a chance at a 17th season. Anthony played six and a half years with the Knicks, helping them to the playoffs three times.
“I’m so happy for him,” Knicks head coach David Fizdale said during their morning shootaround Wednesday. “He should be back and I’m happy for him. And he’s on a playoff team. He’s going to get a chance to play playoff basketball again. I’m really happy for him and I wish him well.” Currently, the Blazers are 5-10 on the year, but Portland's NBA team advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season.
Fizdale didn’t get a chance to coach Anthony, who was traded by New York prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, but he did see the former superstar join some Knicks' players in pickup games before training camp this past summer.
“It was great,” Fizdale said. “He grabbed a couple of our young guys, was giving them pointers and stuff like that. I’ve got a real affection for Melo. All of those guys in that class I’m really close to them — the Bosh class, Wade, Melo, LeBron. I’m close to all of those guys. To see him back playing I think all of us are really happy for him.”
Anthony was reportedly interested in returning to New York to help mentor the young Knicks, but the organization didn’t see a fit.