Trevor Ariza and Carmelo Anthony are among the notable veterans expected to play an integral part in helping the Los Angeles Lakers get back into title contention.
While they may be teammates now, Ariza and Anthony spent years as adversaries matched up against one another. There is perhaps no more defining moment in their battles than when the Lakers squared off against the Denver Nuggets in the 2009 playoffs.
Ariza had the difficult task of serving as the primary defender against a young Anthony at the time. It appears not much has changed in the latter’s game as far as he is concerned.
Ariza credited Anthony as one of the most difficult matchups for him, thanks to his rare skill set as a scorer.
“Carmelo has always been like one of the toughest dudes in the world to play against because of talent, size, strength, speed, shooting ability,” Ariza said. “Everything he brings to the table is just a nightmare for a defender. So just watch his career and where it’s gone, like the ups and downs of it. The fact that he’s still able to mentally like block all that out is just a testament to the person that he is, and how strong that man is and his journey coming here and being here I think is very unique, and I think it should be something that’s celebrated.”
There is no question that Anthony is still widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation. However, a supposed unwillingness to play a supporting role seemingly left him out of the league with few prospects.
Fortunately, an opportunity with the Portland Trail Blazers allowed him to erase some of the negative stigmas. Not only did he show that he is more than capable of taking on whatever role is asked of him, but it also became evident that he still had plenty left in the tank.
While Anthony will be tasked with providing a scoring punch off the bench, Ariza’s presence will once again need to be felt on the defensive end.
Trevor Ariza not concerned with role on Lakers
Ariza’s skill set as a prototypical 3-and-D player helped him check some much-needed boxes for the Lakers in free agency. Aside from that, his pedigree as a former champion with the Purple and Gold serves as the icing on the cake for fans and the team alike.
Although there may be plenty of speculation regarding how all these pieces will be put together, Ariza made it clear that he is not worried about his role on this revamped squad.
“Nah, to be honest with you, I don’t think it matters for anybody that’s here because again, when you’re a part of or when you’re trying to win a championship, the only thing that matters is the success of the team,” Ariza explained. “So when the success of the team is the first thing you think about, whatever role you have on it doesn’t even matter as long as you have a role and the idea is for everybody to make each other better every day and to cheer for your teammate’s success. I think that’s the only thing that’s important.”