Carmelo Anthony never lacks confidence. The daring and fearlessness that propelled him to nationwide stardom on the NCAA Tournament stage in 2003 is the same attitude helping him stay relevant nearly two decades later.
Say what you will about 'Melo's steadfast refusal to adapt his style offensively and the team-wide ripples of his defensive limitations. No one needs to hear again that he's an abject net negative for the Trail Blazers when his jumper isn't falling. The slippery nature of Anthony's positive impact is confirmed often enough by the eye test, let alone the numbers.
Even stubborn realists and biased doubters, though, have to admit that Anthony's tenure in Portland has been a rousing success compared to his prior two stops in the league – especially considering he went a full year without a job before joining the Blazers. Singular moments like passing Elvin Hayes for tenth on the all-time scoring list are just a part of that determination, too.
Like he did in the postgame locker room, celebrating with his teammates, 'Melo told reporters that his latest accomplishment was made all the more special by the fact his career once seemed finished. And it's his time-honored confidence and joy for the game, just like back at Syracuse, still driving him to achieve more.
"I'm blessed to be able to accomplish this in year 18," Anthony said. "I think that's what people should look at. The fact that I'm in my 18th season – I've been doing this damn near 20 years. Still enjoying the game, still loving the game, still approaching the game the same way. And I'm here, man. I told my teammates after the game today it was my perseverance, it was me staying true to myself, never wavering and staying solid, that's why I'm in this position today."
'Melo's persona couldn't save him in Oklahoma City and Houston. In Portland, he's not just a living legend, but a locker-room favorite. Ask Damian Lillard.
"It's been a pleasure to have him in the locker room. I think obviously on the floor he's shown that he can make a difference for our team," Lillard said. "But just getting to know him as a person, for him to be Carmelo Anthony, the Hall-of-Famer, how down to earth he is, how easy going he is...I appreciate him more as a friend than a teammate."
Neil Olshey has spoken a lot about the Blazers being "the custodians of his legacy," and Anthony even said that promise was part of what lured him to Portland. As cliché as that talk sounds and occasionally problematic as it's been manifested on the floor, the Blazers have more than made good on their commitment to 'Melo.
Anthony won't catch ninth-place Moses Malone, 143 points ahead of him, on the all-time scoring list this season. Maybe he never will, or will be playing elsewhere when he does. But watching Anthony etch his name deeper into history while wearing a Blazers uniform will be a moment Rip City never forgets regardless.
'Melo won't, either.
"Top-10 in anything all-time is a special moment," he said. "I don't want to take this moment for granted. I understand how big this moment is. It doesn't seem real."