The excitement around Carmelo Anthony’s arrival in L.A. reached peak levels earlier this week when the 37-year-old veteran’s official debut for the Los Angeles Lakers sent the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy.
Many on the Lakers roster and in the front office publicly said they looked forward to having Anthony represent the organization, including president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka. The signing understandably couldn’t make LeBron James any happier as his relationship with the former New York Knicks star dates way back — and for years, the two didn’t hide they would want to eventually end up on the same team.
That became reality on Tuesday. Anthony checked in with 5:40 left on the clock in the first quarter of the 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors. As the 10-time All-Star stepped on the hardwood, loud cheers roared from the stands with many fans giving Anthony a standing ovation.
The warm reception didn’t escape the future Hall-of-Famer’s attention. Anthony said it made his Lakers debut special.
“It just made me feel at home, it didn’t feel like this was a new environment, a new situation,” Anthony said.
“I felt right at home. I felt comfortable coming right in playing and just hearing the fans cheer for me the way they cheered and stand up and give that ovation. That always makes me feel good, it makes you feel comfortable, makes you feel confident. Especially coming from Lakers fans because I battled with the Lakers so many times for many years, so for them to be cheering for me wearing a Lakers uniform, it’s a different feeling.”
Anthony is well past his prime and his role will likely be reduced to a solid rotation player, perhaps a sixth man. Nevertheless, the forward has shown he still has some gas left in the tank since returning to the league with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2019.
Initially, Anthony signed with Portland on a non-guaranteed deal. But by the end of that season, he earned a spot in the starting lineup and kept it until the first-round playoff matchup against L.A. in the Orlando bubble.
In his Lakers debut, Anthony scored nine points, shooting 2-for-4 from behind the 3-point line, and added four rebounds as well as two assists.
Anthony believes his arrival made Kobe Bryant ‘smile’
Anthony has said before that joining L.A. meant a great deal to him. Among the reasons is his bond with the late Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant.
Last month, Anthony said that he believed Bryant was “smiling” from heavens following his decision to come to Los Angeles in his 19th year in the NBA.
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