by Marcel Mutoni

Of the three superstars in the famed 2003 Draft Class, Carmelo Anthony had played the role of the forgotten man for a long time. While his draftmates (LeBron and Wade) experienced Playoff success almost immediately, it took him Anthony six years to get a taste of winning in the postseason.

Now, as he leads his squad into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in two decades, there’s no denying him – or his place – among the game’s elite.

From the Denver Post:

Anthony is living his Kevin Garnett moment. The playoffs had been an albatross for the Boston Celtics star while he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It took eight tries for Garnett to get out of the first round. But when he finally did, he took the magic carpet ride all the way to the Western Conference finals. Anthony’s sixth time has been his charm. The pixie dust hasn’t faded, and he has ridden this fairy tale to his first conference finals.

“I really don’t know how to feel right now,” Anthony said. “I don’t want to get too excited, but I’d be lying to you if I said I’m not excited. The Western Conference finals is a big accomplishment for myself and for the Nuggets, obviously. We worked hard to get here. I worked extremely hard to get where I’m at today. I’m going to continue working hard throughout these playoffs.”

His coach, George Karl, has become his biggest fan. What was once a strained relationship has smoothed. Both are enjoying the ride. “This is a great day for Melo,” Karl said. “Making all-NBA is real. Advancing to the Western Conference finals is real.”

Melo and the Nuggets will face their biggest challenge to date in a few days, but for now, it’s time to enjoy what they’ve done, and how far along they have come.