ATLANTA (AP) – Carmelo Anthony looked like he had it all done just a few seasons ago.
Now he’s part of a truly exclusive NBA club.
Welcome to the Top 10, Melo.
Anthony scored 14 points on Monday night in Portland’s 123-114 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, pushing him past Elvin Hayes for 10th place on the career scorecard at 27,318.
“If you’re in the top 10 for anything of all time, it’s a special time,” said Anthony, who is in his 18th NBA season and turns 37 before the end of the month.
Anthony crossed Hayes early in the second quarter, hitting a 3-pointer while being fouled by Danilo Gallinari and reversing the free throw to complete a 4-point game.
Anthony was fully aware of how many points he needed to get past Hayes.
“I knew that moment,” he says. “I didn’t know those other times – 15, 13, 11. But 10 is something I did know.”
It looked like Anthony was heading for a forced retirement after playing just 10 games in the 2018-19 season.
He parted ways with Houston, was given up by Chicago, and didn’t meet Portland until the following season was several weeks old.
Even though he’s gone over a year without playing a game, Anthony has found new life and a new role with the Trail Blazers.
Beginning his entire career, he is coming off the bench now, playing a supporting role with young stars, players who still admire him, like Damian Lillard.
“To be in the top 10 in a really special accomplishment,” said Lillard. “For him, it’s probably a little more special. Many people counted him and tried to finish him off.
During his time with the Trail Blazers, Anthony surpassed nine players on the career scorecard.
He toppled Alex English, Kevin Garnett, John Havlicek and Paul Pierce last season. He has beaten Tim Duncan, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon and now Hayes this season.
Next step for Anthony: Moses Malone with 27,409 points.
Melo also has a good chance of catching him by the end of the regular season.
“The fact that Melo is out for a year and comes back makes him even more remarkable,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts. “I always appreciate greatness, whether it’s a player I’m a coach or a coach against. Melo is a great player. He’s a Hall of Fame player. “
Lillard continued endlessly on the pleasure of having Anthony as a teammate, challenging those who have described him over the years as a selfish player who has never been good enough to lead his teams – notably Denver and New York – to a championship.
“I appreciate him more as a friend than as a teammate, and I really appreciate him as a teammate,” said Lillard. “I think that really speaks to the kind of person he is.”
Afterwards, Stotts presented Anthony with a game ball in the locker room.
“We have to recognize the milestones,” said the coach. “It’s a big problem. Top 10 of all time. It’s high time. “
After his teammates finished clapping, Anthony said, “A few years ago I didn’t think I was going to be in this moment right now. I was out of the league for some reason. I returned. I persevered. I stayed strong, I stayed true to myself and now I’m in the top 10. ”
He hasn’t finished yet.
“I still enjoy the game,” said Anthony. “I still love the game. I always approach the game the same way. “
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