With rumors of the NBA season being over, there’s a chance we have seen the last of Melo in a Portland Trail Blazers jersey. What has this time meant to us?
Carmelo Anthony, playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite all the uncertainty that surrounded Melo’s arrival in Portland, that statement right there will never not be extremely cool to be able to say.
And I’ll admit! I was uncertain. I wasn’t sure if Melo was the answer, go and rifle through my old tweets, you won’t find a whole lot of confidence in the decision. His stints in Houston and Oklahoma worried me, and I’ll be honest, Carmelo Anthony looked past it. He looked washed.
But following the Zach Collins injury, Melo arrived in Portland on November 19th, ready to provide the team with some much-needed wing scoring. He was brought in for depth reasons, and many pinned it down as a desperation move, which in a way, it was. If the Blazers stayed fully healthy this year, they would’ve never signed Melo.
But he’s become so much more than that. The first game was understandably a tad rusty, but 10 points and 2 three-pointers was completely fine, considering Melo was out of the game for a year. Then, over the next five, the former All-Star averaged 19 points and 6 boards, a run which included a 3-game win streak. 18 games later, Melo had 28 and the game-winner against the champions, in Toronto.
Carmelo Anthony is a global name, and he came to play for the Portland Trail Blazers. I don’t want to harp on with ‘small-market mentality’, but it’s true. Ignoring the fact that Kevin Durant and Michael Jordan should have been Trail Blazers in a happy, alternative reality, the Blazers rarely have much luck in attracting big names.
I remember a few years ago, the Blazers were clowned on social media for trying to convince DeMarcus Cousins for coming to play here. When Anthony Davis was on the market last year (albeit via a trade), Portland was never a realistic landing spot, despite having a top 10 player on their roster, and were fresh off the Conference Finals.
The 2019 free agent market included Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and maybe 4 or 5 other All-Stars, yet Portland was not a touted spot for any of them. I know the Blazers budget has been thin the last few years, but this has always been the case. We’re not a big-market, and if you’re not a big market, you rarely get the big name.
Even Portland’s own legends; Clyde Drexler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bill Walton, they were all drafted by the Blazers, and all went and played elsewhere, in search of something more. Walton and Drexler went on to win titles elsewhere, and each of these three players are remembered in a slightly different light.
This is why Portland fans value and love Damian Lillard so much, and this is why Melo already means so much to Rip City.
Someone on Reddit recently went through all of Bleacher Reports posts from this past season, and worked out how much each player/team got posted about. The experiment was created to back up the idea of ‘LeBron Report’, but the numbers about the Blazers jumped out to me.