LaMelo Ball has taken the league by storm in his rookie season, but he'll have to wait a bit to become the most notable "Melo" in the NBA.
Ball and Carmelo Anthony squared off on Monday night as the Blazers beat the Hornets, and the older Melo more than held his own in the intergenerational matchup. Anthony tallied 29 points with six threes, punctuating each triple with his signature three-point celebration. Anthony may be in the latter stages of his career in 2020–21, but he still appears to have plenty of good basketball left in the tank.
Ball held his own against the future Hall-of-Famer. The No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA draft finished Monday night with 30 points and eight assists, continuing what will likely be a Rookie of the Year campaign. Ball's strong performance seemed to earn Anthony's respect, and the two embraced postgame before swapping jerseys.
"I think LaMelo is somebody who going to be in this game for a long time," Anthony said postgame. "So, the name Melo, you guys might as well continue getting used to that."
"It’s an honor for him to have that name, for him to embrace it. For him to do the celebration. It’s an honor, it’s a blessing, it’s a respect thing for me. So I embrace him.”
Ball's NBA career is off to a blistering start. He leads all rookies in points, rebounds and assists per game, trailing only three players in made triples. Anthony, meanwhile, enters Tuesday at No. 12 on the all-time scoring list, and he should pass Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes in the coming months.