On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers will be in Portland to take on the Trail Blazers, a game that will feature friend of LeBron James and former All-Star Carmelo Anthony, who has enjoyed a bit of a career resurgence of late.
After a year of waiting for his next NBA job, Anthony has made the most of his opportunity with the Trail Blazers, averaging 16.9 points per game on 44.8% shooting from the field, including 38.7% from 3-point territory, and posting a box plus-minus of +4.8 — his highest box plus-minus since the 2012-13 season. Additionally, the Trail Blazers have gone 4-4 since signing Anthony, and are only a game and a half back from the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Anthony’s early success with the Trail Blazers earned him an NBA Western Conference Player of the Week award on Monday and, best of all, a fully guaranteed contract on Thursday. Suffice to say, it’s been a great week for the 16-year veteran, and few people are more happy for him than James.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, James expressed his delight with how Anthony has looked upon his return to the NBA:
“Proud of him,” James told The Athletic on Thursday night in Salt Lake City. “I don’t know if he needed to hear it or not, but I’m fucking proud of him. Like, really like a blood brother.”
James thinks Anthony’s success is especially great because of the overwhelming narrative that surrounded Anthony when he was a free agent:
“It’s like, when people throwing stones on you and trying to bury you alive and you able to rise above that shit?” James said. “That’s amazing. Shit kind of hit home. It’s a beautiful thing. Beautiful thing. Only the strong survive.”
Anthony’s hoping to be more than just a feel good story, though, with ambitions of leading the Trail Blazers to their seventh consecutive playoff berth. The fact that they have to play the Lakers two more times after Friday doesn’t help their chances, but playoffs no longer seem like a long shot for Portland, and Anthony is a big reason for that.
That being said, give me a first-round matchup with the Trail Blazers where Anthony is forced to guard James and Anthony Davis — please.