Carmelo Anthony is back, and the NBA is happy to have him. Anthony's 25 point night in Portland's 117-94 win over the Bulls was as celebrated as one of James Harden's 40 point outings. Maybe it was because Anthony passed Alex English for 18th on the career scoring list, but I like to think it's because we missed the volume scorer Anthony was during his time in Denver and New York. He was never going to lead the Nuggets or Knicks to a championship, but he was fun to watch.
Anthony finds joy in basketball he told Shams Charania of The Athletic "my love for the game don't stop." Aside from talking with the media, Anthony never seemed to enjoy his time in Oklahoma City and he made that apparent on his way out the door when he spoke of the sacrifice he made during his one-season stay.
It's crucial to remember Anthony had to waive a no-trade clause to make the deal Ennes Kanter and Doug McDermott possible. The idea of playing with Paul Geroge and Russell Westbrook must have been enticing; the reality was Antony was the third option on a team that never won more than eight straight. Anthony also found out that even though Sam Presti was doing his best to create the illusion of superteam Russell Westbrook was front and center, and Russ was going to get his. It was Antony who said Westbrook steals rebounds. Joking or not, it provided us a glimpse behind the curtain, which screamed this isn't working.
If Anthony's verbal cues weren't enough, there was March 29th, 2018, in San Antonio when Westbrook air-balled a three-point attempt with 14 seconds left as the Thunder fell 103-99 to the Spurs. No doubt, both Antony and George had to feel they were better options in that situation. Antony was out of place on the court and within himself coming to grips with not being the focal point of an organization.
What should have been, at worst, one of the most fun seasons in the Thunder's young history was a prolonging of a rebuilding process that is barely in motion. On Wednesday and over the next few months, Anthony will have the opportunity to prove he can coexist with other superstars and score whenever he wants. Still, I'd like to believe that some part of Anthony enjoyed his time in Oklahoma City, even if it was to tell us how he was being misused.