The Detroit Pistons made a colossal mistake during the 2003 NBA draft. Although they would go on to win an NBA title, they decided to draft Darko Milicic No. 2 overall, passing on the likes of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. Very rarely does a contender get a No. 2 draft pick, and boy, did they botch it.
This is relevant again today because several Pistons players have stated on multiple platforms that if Pistons management had chosen Carmelo over Darko, that they’d have won several rings during the 2000s rather than just the one.
On Friday, Anthony turned 36 years of age. And for all of the greatness he has achieved in the NBA, the amount of slander he gets is ridiculous. He’s made 10 All-Star Games and proved during his time in Denver and New York to be capable of outscoring any other player on the floor.
The knock on him is that his teams have only advanced in the playoffs twice in his career. And so much goes into it, as in the same breath, Tracy McGrady didn’t get past the first round until the final season of his storied career. Carmelo has always been somebody that could put the ball in the hoop.
As we look back on Anthony’s career as we go into what will be a crucial offseason to likely finish his time in the league, it’s important to reflect on a big decision he made. He opted to sign a long-term extension to stay with the Knicks, rather than join the Bulls or Rockets to try to get a ring.
It was pretty clear the Knicks didn’t have much opportunity, and their short window had closed. Anthony clearly wanted to be in New York, regardless, and it’s crazy how many people have knocked him for loyalty.
The Knicks didn’t feel the same way about him with Phil Jackson running things in the front office and eventually traded him.
He had a very up-and-down year with the Thunder before eventually going to the Rockets. Houston cut him after 10 weird games. He had played well, but Daryl Morey did not want him around anymore. It took over a year for an injury-riddled Blazers team to give him a shot this season.
Anthony didn’t exactly impress with Portland, but he did come in and give them a much-needed boost. He averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game over 50 contests in 32 minutes a night. He had decent shooting splits of 43/37/84.
It is unlikely that he returns to Portland next year, but anything can happen. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum not known for their defensive abilities, it hinders them to play Anthony alongside them if they hope to be a contender. They did make it work well enough to be roughly a .500 team with him in, though.
No matter what happens with Anthony, the NBA did him dirty within the last year. It was fantastic to see him finally land on his feet with the Blazers.
Happy birthday, Carmelo. Keep getting buckets. Hope to see the journey continue next year, somewhere.
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