Carmelo Anthony admitted Tuesday he was coming to terms with officially retiring from the NBA before the Portland Trail Blazers called with a playing opportunity.
Instead of leaving the game, the 35-year-old Anthony has made a triumphant return, decorated with Western Conference player of the week honors Monday.
“I was ready to walk away, yeah,” Anthony said on ESPN’s “The Jump” NBA program.
“It was hard. But there came a point when I was, like, ‘You know what? I’ve given a lot to this game. I played 15, 16 years in this game. I’m ready to give it up, because I just knew that, at that point in time from a basketball standpoint, that narrative … it was already out there. So I’d been fightin’ an uphill battle anyway if I didn’t go to the right situation.”
Anthony played just 10 games last season with Houston, but the Blazers had the need for some offense after Zach Collins underwent shoulder surgery and Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg.
Since Anthony arrived, the Blazers have gone 3-3. The veteran has averaged 17.7 points since his arrival, including games of 25 and 23 points in victories against the Chicago Bulls last week.
“I feel good,” Anthony said. “The book says you’re supposed to be about to retire around this time? … No, I’ve always been against all odds. … I just had a year off. … I had a year off restin’ my body.”
Now in his 17th season, Anthony has averaged 24.0 points in his 1,070-game career. The former No. 3 overall draft pick in 2003 has played for the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Rockets and Blazers.