Carmelo Anthony On Winning Player Of The Week: 'I Think It's Deeper Than Basketball'

by Casey Holdahl
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It had been over five years since Carmelo Anthony had been named Player of the Week prior to being awarded the Western Conference version Monday afternoon. And while he doesn’t recall much from the last time he earned the honor, which occurred in mid-March of 2014 while a member of the New York Knicks, he’ll likely have a more enduring memory of winning POTW for the 19th time in his career.

“I can’t even remember 2014, to be honest with you,” said Anthony after shoot around at Staples Center Tuesday morning. “It’s been a long time ago. To be able to get that honor right now after sitting out — not sitting out, taking a vacation for a year — coming back. I don’t like to pat myself on the back. I’ve got a lot more work to do, that’s what I can say.”

While that is undoubtably true, by averaging 22.3 points on 57 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent shooting from three, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists, Anthony more than did his part in helping the Trail Blazers win three-straight for the first time this season.

"You watch film, there’s so many things on the tape that’s like ‘Wow, I did that?’ or ‘We did that?’ or ‘We should do this better,’" said Anthony. "I’m going to always critique myself and I’ll always be critical of how I’m playing, how we’re playing, communicating with the guys, talking, trying to get better. That’s how you become a better team and a title team."

There are always a number of player deserving of being recognized for their efforts, such as James Harden and Luka Doncic, both of whom turned in exemplary individual performances last week, but in selecting Anthony, perhaps the league was admitting that what a player means to a team and the league in general sometimes goes beyond raw statistics.

"It’s a great honor," said Anthony. "More so, I think it’s deeper than basketball with that honor, just more about my commitment to the game and to staying with it, staying in it and being committed at the end of the day."

Another player who also had a legitimate claim to Western Conference Player of the Week is Anthony's teammate Damian Lillard, who averaged 22.6 points on 47 percent shooting, 7.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds while also helping the Blazers break a four-game skid. But the way that he, along with the rest of the team, have welcomed Anthony into the fold without worrying about what it might mean for their own statistics has surely played a role in finding success relatively quickly.

"I think (Lillard) makes it so much easier for me to come in and be a part of this situation and this team and this organization," said Anthony. "The way that we’re playing, he makes it easy for me. It’s not so as far as getting be the ball, just everything making this transition so smooth, so easy. And it’s a genuine support. It’s not fake, it’s a real commitment and I think that’s why I’m able to go out there and do what I do and play the way that I’m playing as of late, because I have a clear mind and I can just play free."

As for Lillard, he gave the credit back to Anthony, noting that he's come into Portland's locker room with the confidence you would hope to see from a 10-time All-Star.

"The way that he was kind of almost pushed out of the league, I thought that was wrong," said Lillard. "So the fact that he’s come back and he’s on our team now, it’s a great opportunity for us to be a part of his bounce back, a great story for a Hall of Fame player. And then he gets here and your respect for him as a person makes that even more important. He didn’t come in and you can tell he’s not trying to walk on eggshells and be a certain person so it works out, he’s like naturally been himself. I respect it."

That respect and desire to be a part of the "bounce back" rather than begrudgingly accepting it is one of the reasons the first few weeks with Anthony have been a relative success. The Trail Blazers might not have been the only roster that would have welcomed Anthony without resentment, but there are surely players on other teams, teams that could use what he provides, who would have taken issue with ceding both minutes and shot attempts, even to a player of his stature. That hasn't been the case in Portland.

"I always feel like this situation happened for a reason," said Anthony. "I think it’s a perfect fit for me, my game, my personality, those guys’ personalities, those guys’ games. It’s a perfect match. It’s very authentic, it’s very genuine, nobody is forcing anything, it’s happening naturally, it’s happening organically. And when you have that, it makes things so much easier."

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