LeBron James didn’t need a strong argument to convince Carmelo Anthony, his friend of more than 20 years, to join him in the Los Angeles Lakers. Nothing to inquire about the minutes of the game or their role; there was no sale of off-court opportunities offered by the city.
Just one friend who told another that he would like you to do something together.
“Bron just walked up to me and said, ‘Dude, the time is now. I love you. We have to make this happen, ”Anthony said at his launch press conference as a new member of the Lakers. “At the time, I just felt like it was the best moment.
“Most people would say that we should have gotten together many years ago in our careers, but we were on different paths and the circle is closing, I would say,” added “Melo.”
James, the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, and Anthony, the third, came into the league together after being two of the top high school prospects in America and meeting on the AAU circuit.
It took almost two decades for them to become teammates in the NBA, with the exception of All-Star Games and international competitions with the United States team.
And while 37-year-old Anthony will finally team up with 36-year-old James in what will be his sixth NBA team and a squad that will also feature a wealth of experience including Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Marc Gasol, ” Melo ”downplayed any concerns about a veteran roster playing a sport where speed, strength and athleticism reign supreme.
“We do not care. We create our own narrative, ”Anthony stressed. “I like when people talk about age. Create a good story and improve the story. “
“People forget, at the end of the day, that this is basketball. You must know how to play basketball, you must have that experience. That is what we offer right now. Our talent, our skills, but also our experience ”, he stressed.
In 13 postseason appearances, Anthony has yet to reach the NBA Finals, let alone a championship. The closest he has come was in 2009, when he lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals in six games as a member of the Denver Nuggets.
“I come (to Los Angeles) with a championship in mind. It seems like we all know that’s the only thing I’m missing, right? ”Anthony pointed out. “It’s the only thing that keeps me awake at night, that motivates me, because I don’t have it. I want that experience ”.
Five years after that loss to the Lakers, the franchise made room in the salary cap to try to convince Anthony to go to Los Angles to play with Kobe Bryant. Seven years later, he will finally wear that uniform.
“It seems like in my entire career I’ve always been connected to the Lakers in some way, whether it’s through my brother Kobe, no matter what it was, I’ve always been linked in some way,” Anthony said. “This time they didn’t have to convince me, it was more like a little more understanding, something like, ‘OK, the time is now. The time is now for both parties to come together, to agree to come together and put the pieces in place. ‘
Anthony, who ranks 10th on the scoring list in league history, played well in his backup role with the Portland Trail Blazers last season, averaging 13.4 points and setting a career-high 40.9 percent in efficiency. cent in triples.
Although there are no clear headlines on the Lakers next season other than James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, Anthony said he will be ready for whatever role he is asked to play.
“I had to swallow that ego, I had to swallow my pride, but I also had to use that ego and that pride to stay strong and motivated and I have accepted that,” said Anthony. “I played well in Portland. It was my first time doing that and experiencing it at that level, but I enjoyed it. It was fun and I was able to do what I know, have fun and fall in love with this sport again ”.
The Lakers also featured Kent Bazemore, who played with the team in the 2013-14 season. Ironically, he was not offered a contract extension in the summer of 2014, because the franchise wanted to have room in the salary cap to make a maximum offer to Anthony and now, they are both in Los Angeles, together, with minimum wage agreements. for veterans.