Now entering his 18th year in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony proved that he still had plenty left in the tank in his first year with the Portland Trailblazers. It’s why this piece is dedicated to Carmelo Anthony’s greatest moments ever.
After being acquired last year, he became a key contributor and provided ample support for the Blazers’ backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Throughout the regular season and playoffs in the NBA Bubble, Anthony proved to be a vital cog for coach Terry Stotts and that he still deserved to be in the league after nearly walking away from the game following his struggles in recent years.
Since emerging as a young talent at Oak Hill Academy in high school, Anthony has given fans many memorable moments, from game-winners, scoring binges, to victories at the highest levels of basketball. Here are some of the 35-year old’s greatest basketball moments:
5. Becoming the NBA scoring champion – April 17, 2013
Anthony’s best season with the Knicks was in 2012-2013, when he helped New York win the Atlantic Division title and finish with a 54-28 record and their first playoff series victory since 2000. That was also the year when he was named as the NBA scoring champion, narrowly edging out Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 67 games, Anthony finished with averages of a league-high 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, while shooting 44.9% from the field and 37.9% from beyond the arc.
He officially became the scoring champion on April 13, 2013, with Durant sitting out the Thunder’s regular season finale. A few days earlier, however, New York had a trip to Oklahoma City, giving the league’s two best scorers a chance to face each other. The game didn’t disappoint, with Anthony finishing with 36 points and Durant ending up with 27.
The Knicks, however, came away with an important victory, and Anthony’s performance gave him a slight edge over Durant in the race for the scoring title, which was enough for him to become the scoring champion for the only time in his career.
4. Duel with Kobe Bryant in Game 1 of Western Conference Finals – May 19, 2009
For most of Anthony’s time with the Denver Nuggets, the team was known for winning enough games to reach the playoffs, only to bow out in the first round. That changed in the 2008-2009 season, when an early season trade of Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons brought in Chauncey Billups, who turned out to be a better fit alongside Anthony. With the two All Stars leading the way, the Nuggets finished with a 54-28 record, good for second in the Western Conference.
Denver would beat the New Orleans Hornets in the first round, winning their first playoff series since 1994, then beat the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals to reach their first Conference Finals since 1985. But waiting for Anthony and the Nuggets were the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant in what was seen as a thrilling series featuring two of the game’s best players. Game 1 of the series would live up to those expectations, with Anthony and Bryant having a back and forth duel, with each player making one contested basket after another.
Anthony led the Nuggets with 39 points, six rebounds, four assists, making 14 of 20 shots and four of five three-pointers. Bryant, meanwhile, matched Anthony’s output, finishing with near-identical numbers of 40 points, six rebounds, and four assists, although he needed eight more shots. But in the end, the Lakers won a nail-biter, 105-103, to take a 1-0 lead in a series they would win in six games. To date, this is the closest that Anthony has come to reaching the NBA Finals, and throughout the series, he showed that he was more than capable of matching up against the best of the West.
3. Scoring a career-high 62 points at Madison Square Garden – January 24, 2014
Carmelo Anthony was a deadly scorer throughout his career, but he was at his best with the Knicks, as proven when he won his only scoring title in the 2012-2013 season. But his highest scoring performance would come the following season against the Charlotte Bobcats, when he dropped 62 points, which also set a record for most points scored at the Knicks famous homecourt of Madison Square Garden.
Anthony couldn’t be stopped on that night, scoring 37 of his 62 in the first half, punctuating his unbelievable half by nailing a three-pointer from half court to give New York a 67-46 halftime lead as his teammates and the Garden crowd erupted in cheers, which only grew louder with every made bucket. He shot 23 of his 35 (65.7%) from the field, six of 11 from downtown, making all 10 of his free throws while adding a team-high 13 rebounds in 38 minutes of action. He made jumpers from all over the floor, whether it was from midrange, near the baseline, or from beyond the arc. More importantly, his career night did not go to waste, as the Knicks cruised to a 125-96 win over Charlotte.
Carmelo Anthony has had other stellar scoring performances in his career, but none were better than his 62-point explosion on the night of January 24, 2014.
2. Winning an NCAA title as a freshman – April 7, 2003
Whenever discussing him, making a list of Carmelo Anthony’s greatest moments ever has to include this bit.
The biggest criticism of Anthony’s NBA career is that he hasn’t won a championship and that he isn’t a winner, but the truth is, he has won at every other level of basketball, whether it’s with Syracuse in the NCAA or with Team USA in the Olympics. And it was in Syracuse where he established himself as one of the best young players in the country and turned in one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history.
During his only season with the Orangemen, Anthony averaged 22.2 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 45.3% from the field and 33.7% from three-point territory. After leading Syracuse in points, rebounds, field goals made, and free throws made in the season, the talented freshman took the NCAA tournament by storm, with his 33-point, 14-rebound effort in the Final Four against the University of Texas setting the record for most points scored by a freshman in the NCAA tournament.
Anthony would continue to perform well on the big stage, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists in the national title game to help Syracuse beat Kansas, 81-78, giving the Orange their first NCAA title. Afterward, Anthony was named as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, was named a Second Team All-American, and was the consensus pick as the NCAA Freshman of the Year. Other talented players have since played and left the NCAA, but few had better freshman seasons than Anthony.
1. Taking home his third Olympic gold medal – August 21, 2016
We made it. The No. 1 spot on our Carmelo Anthony’s greatest moments ever list.
Throughout his career, fans have come to know different kinds of Anthony. There was Regular Melo, the player everyone was used to, and there was Hoodie Melo, the player everyone came to know and love who is largely based on how good the 10-time All Star looked in practice while wearing a hoodie. But among his different on-court personas, Olympic Melo might be the best of them all.
Anthony first joined the USA men’s basketball national team as a rookie in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and since then has played in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2012 London Olympics, and the 2016 Rio Olympics, after which he became USA basketball’s most decorated Olympian, the only player with three gold medals while adding another bronze medal. After helping Team USA win the gold in Brazil four years ago, Anthony became the team’s all-time leading scorer, rebounder, while also playing the most games.
Several legendary NBA players have played for the Stars and Stripes before him, but none was able to do more than Anthony. His best game for Team USA came in London in 2012, when he led the team with a record 37 points on 10-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc, both Olympic records for an American player, in a dominant 156-73 win over Nigeria. Making the feat more impressive is that Anthony did it in just 14 minutes of play.
While he didn’t play as well in Brazil four years later, his final game for Team USA, when he scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished off two assists against Serbia in the gold medal game, stands out because it gave him an unprecedented third gold medal and cemented his status as the most decorated basketball player to play in the world’s largest and most prestigious sporting event.
That’s that. It’s hard to boil it down to just five, but what did we miss in our list of Carmelo Anthony’s greatest moments ever?