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TNIAAM roundtable: reflecting on Carmelo Anthony’s illustrious basketball career

Looking back at some of the best moments from ‘Melo’s career.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ten-time NBA All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection, and Syracuse Orange legend Carmelo Anthony on Monday announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 seasons.

Anthony served as the best player on the SU men’s basketball team in the 2002-2003 season, guiding the Orange to the program’s only NCAA championship against the Kansas Jayhawks.

He was selected third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. ‘Melo made a name for himself as a franchise cornerstone in Denver for 7.5 seasons before finishing up the prime of his career for 6.5 seasons with the New York Knicks. He currently ranks ninth all-time in points per game in NBA history - sandwiched in between legends Shaquille O’Neal and Moses Malone - after 1,260 career NBA games.

In light of his retirement, the TNIAAM looked back at some of the defining moments, highlights, and achievements from ‘Melo’s basketball career:

What stood out to you the most during ‘Melo’s time in the NBA?

Dom: Ridiculous shot-making. Biased Miami Heat fan here, but I vividly remember ‘Melo dropping 50 points against us entirely on jumpers, fadeaways, and threes. The final statline from that April 2013 game: 50 points, 18/26 shooting, 7/10 from three, and a 12-point win against a Miami team which went 66-16 in the regular season.

Kevin: As the old person here, Melo was a throwback. He didn’t rely on the three to score his points. He got buckets in a variety of ways and always looked to play to his opponent (going back to his Syracuse days). A lot of people watch the jumpers and forget about younger Melo hitting people off the bounce or taking a smaller opponent down to the block and scoring over them.

Mike: How complete of a player he was. Melo could score in every way conceivable, often at will, made defenders look silly almost every night, and had an aura that even the game’s biggest stars lack today. And his later renaissance with the Trail Blazers saw Melo transform and embrace his new role as an explosive 6th-man on a legit playoff contender.

Steve: As a fellow “old” with Kevin, the diversity in his game as a young player was astounding. His ability to adapt as he aged as well, and continue to score at the level he did in different ways from his youth was special. Whether it was young Melo with a quick move and taking it to the rack off the bounce, or later relying more on a midrange game that you still couldn’t defend, he was special.

Szuba: Just his ability to score the ball and his consistency. He had a long career that probably could have been extended longer if not for the changes in how modern basketball is played.

What was Carmelo’s most memorable moment in the NBA?

Dom: I grew up watching mid-2000s NBA action, and one of my favorite playoff series I ever watched was ‘Melo taking on prime Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. That included a crazy Game 1 where Anthony (39 points) and Kobe (40 points) went shot-for-shot in a 105-103 Denver loss. It was a much closer series than many people give credit for.

Kevin: Setting the MSG record for points in an NBA game with 62 back in 2014 knocking Kobe off the top of the MSG list. Someone will come along and break the record, but for now Melo tops Kobe, MJ, LeBron, Curry and others.

Mike: His time with the Atlanta Hawks... kidding of course. Has to be when the NYC-born forward took complete control of the 2013 1st Round Series, leading his Knicks past the Celtics to the tune of nearly 30 PPG - and one of the sickest spin moves you’ll ever see.

Steve: Gotta agree on the Melo vs. Kobe 2009 run. The matchups, the stakes, it was peak Melo.

Szuba: Yeah, it’s the 2009 run to the Western Conference Finals. Although it wasn’t a “moment” the year he won the scoring title in 2012-13 was significant. The 62-point night in New York stands out, but so too does the “coming home” intro at Madison Square Garden after Denver traded him to the Knicks.

What’s the most impressive statistical accomplishment of Anthony’s NBA career?

Dom: Anthony scored at least 20 points per game in 14 seasons, tied with Shaq for seventh-most in NBA history. Who’s above him? The list from sixth to first: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and LeBron James. Elite company.

Kevin: Winning a scoring title in 2012-13 over the likes of Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and others. Melo averaged 28.7 points per game that year as the Knicks won the Atlantic Division.

Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Mike: He led the league in minutes played in 2013-14 and was second in scoring only to Kevin Durant... the consistency of prime Melo is still insane to talk about.

Steve: The scoring title in 2012-2013. He was up against some of the stiffest competition of pure scorers in recent history in their collective primes and walked home with the honors.

Szuba: A top ten scorer in NBA history. Yeah, that one.

NBA-career aside, what else made Anthony such an iconic figure in the basketball world?

Dom: ‘Melo’s name was known internationally for his four appearances/medals in the Olympics as a representative of Team USA, stretching from bronze in 2004 to three-straight golds in 2008, 2012, and 2016. He’s their all-time leader in points, minutes, and games played.

Kevin: Carmelo stepped into the space that Allen Iverson inhabited as NBA players who seemed “authentic”. I think what made Melo appreciated by Knicks fans was that he embraced the city, he embraced the roots of the game, and he didn’t try to change to fit what others wanted him to be.

Mike: #STAYME70. Seriously, name me a bigger personality than Anthony in the late-2000s and 2010s. Whereas many other top athletes grow their brands around whatever gets the most partnerships, Melo’s is really just saying to stay calm and true to yourself.

Szuba: He changed the college game by capturing hearts as a freshman and in doing so, changed a lot of people’s minds. He also did it in a genuine and endearing way by scoring at will and smiling through it — he knew he could score and he wasn’t necessarily trying to prove it to anyone else. Melo has sort of transcended into the poster child of what many freshman aspire and try to live up to in college basketball. But basketball-specific, he’s the ultimate scorer and most respected amongst players. Your favorite player’s favorite player. Swagger at all three levels. He could stretch it, was silky from mid-range and a bully in the paint — he had his own flare finishing at the rim. Oh, and “FOH, I GOT IT!”

What’s the basketball legacy ‘Melo leaves behind following his retirement?

Dom: ‘Melo paved the way for every “one-and-done” college player who made a name for himself in the NBA. Freshman were rarely the best player on an NCAA champion, as Boeheim noted on several occasions.

Kevin: Without Carmelo Anthony, Jim Boeheim becomes the biggest under-achiever in college basketball history....and he’s probably still coaching and chasing that title. His year at Syracuse serves as a reminder to all who claim that “college sports have been ruined”, that winning does in fact fix everything.

Mike: His off-the-court philanthropy is among the best of anyone since the turn of the century. Between helping education efforts in Baltimore and largely contributing to future Orange basketball success with the Melo Center, Anthony gets the bigger picture.

Szuba: One of the best to ever do it and arguably the greatest scorer of all-time. Bar none. His name will forever be etched in not only Syracuse but college basketball and Olympic lore.


Now it’s your turn:

Outside of winning the 2003 National Championship, what is your favorite Carmelo moment?