Ten-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony says he has emerged from months of self-doubt, is in the gym daily and ready to find a team that wants him.
“I know I can still play,” he said Friday on ESPN’s “First Take.”
Anthony, 35, didn’t always feel that way, particularly after an unceremonious exit following a 10-game stint with the Rockets early last season.
“I felt like the game didn’t want me back at that point in time,” he admitted, describing a time in which he felt “emotionally vulnerable.”
That was the aftermath of the meeting in which Rockets GM Daryl Morey told Anthony, a six-time All-NBA selection who led the league in scoring as recently as 2012-13 season (28.7 points per game), that he was being let go.
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“I was like, ‘What? Hold up. What the hell are you talking about? … You telling me I can’t make a nine-, 10-man rotation on this team?'” Anthony recalled thinking.
That’s when the self-doubt began to creep in.
“That was an ego hit. That was a pride hit,” Anthony said. “I started questioning myself after that. Can I still do this? What did I do? I asked (Morey) … he just said it wasn’t working out.
“When somebody in power that tells you that they no longer need your services … for you to tell me you don’t need that no more, I honestly felt that I was fired. I felt like [what] other people go through on a day-to-day basis. People get fired. I honestly felt like I got fired.”
That was then. This is now.
Anthony said on “First Take” his passion for the game back.
“I’m in the gym every single day,” Anthony said. He also noted “silence is not my surrender” and that he needed to quietly step away from the game to “reevaluate myself, reevaluate my career, reevaluate my life.”
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Anthony has averaged 24.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his 16-season NBA career.
He averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in his 10 games with the Rockets, but they eventually traded him to the Bulls in January. Chicago released him immediately, and he has been a free agent since.
His name has been linked to multiple teams, and one unidentified executive recently told The Athletic that Anthony “could fill a spot on most second units” as long as they find a role that “works for both sides.”
Translation: He has been a star in the league, with the Knicks and Nuggets, but now hasn’t played in the NBA since mid-November and remains an aging free agent.
“I feel like I still can play,” Anthony said. “I know I still can play. My peers know I still can play.”