TIPOFF Magazine: Joel Anthony's Journey

Joel Anthony's Journey

By Brentan Debysingh

He does the intangibles, the stuff that doesn’t appear on the box score. He has the ability to affect the game positively for his team without either wanting or needing the ball. There’s no line item in a stat sheet for rotating to the defender on the weakside after a cross court pass, forcing a shooter a few feet outside his comfort zone or using his wingspan to alter the trajectory of shots. To HEAT Center Joel Anthony, it matters not.

“As long as I’ve been able to make an impact and help, that’s the most important thing, regardless of what the stats say,” Anthony said.

For HEAT Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, Anthony’s value on court is not quantifiable by traditional stats. “Joel’s contributions are invaluable to us,” Spoelstra said. “His impact is not defined by points scored. It’s whether Joel is helping us win or not.”

HEAT fans acknowledge and appreciate his contributions, regularly chanting “M-V-P” when Anthony shoots free throws. They have also bestowed upon him the highest honor known to fans – they gave him a nickname: “The Warden” because when he’s patrolling the paint, most defenders get placed on “lockdown.”

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Anthony trekked 1,500 miles south to Pensacola, Florida to attend Pensacola Junior College where he earned First Team All-Conference honors. Anthony then transferred to the University of Nevada – Las Vegas and played two seasons where in only 68 career games, he amassed the second-most blocks (157) in UNLV history. During his senior season in 2006-07, Anthony’s defensive talents were on full display. He averaged 2.95 blocks per game and was named as the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He led the MWC and ranked 11th nationally in blocks per game. In a game against Texas Christian University, he set the MWC record for blocks in a game with 13. In 2007, UNLV honored Anthony by naming him Sportsman of the Year. He graduated with a degree in university studies with a concentration in sociology and physical education.

At 6’9” one might think Anthony is undersized to play center in the NBA, where the typical height in that position is at least two inches taller. But that has never stopped him from making his mark on the game.

Signed by the HEAT in 2007, Anthony ranked fourth amongst all rookies in the NBA in blocks per game, his first season in the league. He led the HEAT in blocks 10 times and in a game at Indiana on March 31, 2008, he tied a HEAT rookie record with a career-high six blocks. The feat also set a franchise record for most blocks in a game by a HEAT non-starter.

In his second season as a pro, his progression was evident as he started 28 games and led the team in blocks 26 times. During the following season, Anthony was tied for 15th in the NBA in total blocks and 18th in blocks per game. He also recorded single-season career highs in many categories including games played, points and field goals made.

Last year, Anthony led the HEAT in blocks, his third time in four seasons, had 25 multi-block games and again amassed single-season career highs in four categories including minutes played, field goal percentage, defensive rebounds and total rebounds.

In only his fifth season, Anthony has been moving up the HEAT’s all-time blocked shot list (currently fifth) and in games played as well (17th). He is also third amongst the HEAT’s all-time postseason leaders in blocked shots and seventh in offensive rebounds.
His accomplishments have been noted outside of Miami as well. For the first time in his career, Anthony was listed as one of four HEAT players on the 2012 NBA All-Star Ballot.
By traditional standards, Anthony’s road to the NBA has been the one less traveled, but he knows he’s been defying the conventional with his work ethic, perseverance and belief in himself, saying, “I always believed that hard work and discipline could go a long way.”


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