He refuses to come off the bench. He’s selfish. All he cares about is scoring. There’s been a lot of talk around the NBA community about the reputation of Carmelo Anthony. His name has been in the headlines for most of his career and it’s usually a critique of his reluctance to do what’s best for the team. In the latter years of his career, the focus has been on his perceived unwillingness to become a role player rather than the number one option. Throughout all of the talk regarding his attitude toward his role on any team, all of the quotes are coming from everyone but Melo. After what seems like an eternity, Carmelo finally stepped to the microphone on First Take to speak his piece on the status of his career and the rumors surrounding it.
Growth & Acceptance
Chauncey Billups once commented on Melo’s focus on scoring rather than winning during their time together in Denver. In those days, Melo was in his early 20’s with a mentality that matched his age. He was out to prove himself and his worth, and putting numbers on the board was his approach to accomplishing that. In his interview with Stephen A. Smith, Melo expounded on this point, insisting that he lacked maturity just like any young adult would. However, that reputation followed him around the link from his arrival to the New York Knicks to his dramatic departure from Houston Rockets, and eventually from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Melo maintains that no one from any organization can deny that he was an exemplary professional.
Melo showed up to every game and practice on time. He never was much of a troublemaker off the court, and always did his job. The fact that he’s averaged a 24 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game and was being asked to come off the bench was a hard pill to swallow. Imagine being one of the best in the world at what you do, and being asked to take a minor role in doing it. It wouldn’t be an easy circumstance to participate in. Still, Melo says that he accepted those circumstances and was still let go from teams. Now as he strives to get back on the court for the final years of his career, Melo is wondering what it’ll take to prove that he is a team player.
Vulnerability & Overcoming Pride
When the Houston Rockets acquired Carmelo Anthony in free agency it was big news. However, after 10 games they ended his contract and sent him to the Chicago Bulls who eventually waived his contract turning him into a free agent. That was a moment of intense vulnerability from Melo. He was a 10x time All-Star, NBA scoring champion, a 2x USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year, and a 3x Olympic gold medalist. Despite all of his proven ability, he was told that his services were no longer needed. Not only that, but he hasn’t been picked up by a team since then.
“You mean to tell me that out of 30 NBA teams with 15-man rosters, that I can’t make a roster? That’s when it becomes bigger than basketball to mean. It’s politics.” – Carmelo Anthony
What’s amazing is that people talk about Carmelo as if he’s been out of the league for years. His contract was just waived in February of this year. Still, the narrative is that he’s some washed up player who can’t get a job because of his attitude and lack of ability to play in today’s game. At the end of the day, Melo just needs a chance to do his job. He may not be the star on anyone’s team anymore, but he’s most definitely not unusable.