Lakers News: Frank Vogel Jokes Carmelo Anthony Comes Off Bench Due To Fans’ Love For Him
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony’s form in the 2021-22 season has become one of the campaign’s main storylines — made all the more special by the Los Angeles Lakers’ faithful’s love for the 37-year-old forward.

Every time Anthony is about to enter the game at Staples Center, Lakers fans frantically welcome the Year 19 veteran with loud cheers and applause. The support seems to help the 10-time All-Star find his rhythm on offense as he is averaging 20.6 points per game in home games, shooting a mind-blowing 64.4% from behind the 3-point line.

While on the road, Anthony’s numbers fall to 9.7 points per game and just 6.3% from downtown.

“Our crowd is amazing with him, and they’re keeping him out of the starting lineup [laughs] because the energy we get when he checks in, is something that I don’t want to mess with, you know?” said head coach Frank Vogel.

“And obviously there’s the temptation to slide AD to the five, but I like where we’re getting with [Carmelo] coming off the bench. And we just got to continue, I’m not sure what it is, he’s a great player that I think our fans came close to acquiring a couple of times or wanted to bring to the L.A. Lakers. And now we have him and man, he’s playing just terrific basketball and the fans are rewarding him.”

It is unclear whether the Lakers fans’ support for Anthony indeed plays a factor in the veteran forward keeping the role of the second unit’s leader. But Vogel’s comment reached the former New York Knicks star — and made him laugh.

“That’s the only reason? Come on, Frank,” Anthony said, cranking up. The Lakers veteran then added he made peace with starting games on the bench even before signing with L.A.

“The first time I came off the bench, it was a hard time coming off the bench,” Anthony said. “It was something that I didn’t know how to react to, I didn’t know how to respond to. It was something foreign to me, it was something I’ve never done before outside of playing with the USA Team, but that was different.

“Having that experience coming off the bench and understanding, and being able to see the flow of the game and what’s needed and the energy that’s needed to come off the bench and just coming in there and just fitting right in. I’ve adapted to that, I’ve accepted that especially before I came here when I got that call.

And he added: “It’s just something that, that’s what’s best for this team.”

Westbrook: Anthony has always prioritized team’s success

Anthony didn’t want to give up his place in the starting line-up for the majority of his career, which contributed to his quick departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018.

Having spent the 2017-18 season playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the hopeful Thunder crashed out of the 2018 NBA Playoffs with a disappointing first-round exit. As the franchise wanted to change things up ahead of the new season, Anthony refused to start games on the bench.

He was soon traded away with the Thunder opting to save money by offloading the forward’s heavy contract. But Westbrook never blamed Anthony for believing he still belonged among the starters.

“Honestly, from the phone call I had with Melo to tell him to come to Oklahoma City when he was in New York until now, he’s always been willing to do what’s better for the team and what’s better for that particular situation at the time,” Westbrook said.

“Obviously some times may have not looked as if he was willing to do so, but the conversations we had as men and as brothers, he’s always been straight up and honest with me where he sees himself with the upcoming season.”

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