“It wasn’t like Melo did something crazy to get kicked out of the league,” Lillard said following his new teammate’s Tuesday night debut for the Trail Blazers.
Anthony, 35, told reporters that he had nearly “let go” of his NBA dreams prior to inking a non-guaranteed deal in Portland.
Per The Athletic:
“It wasn’t like Melo did something crazy to get kicked out of the league,” Lillard said. “A player of his caliber, without a reputation for doing wild stuff, and there’s not a real reason for him not to get an opportunity? It was weird. And I think that’s why so many people are in support of him, because they respect him, they are a fan of him, and they know he can still play.”
Anthony said he thinks the swelling of support from his peers is rooted in respect. He holds “Black Ops” runs over the summers, during which NBA players like the Blazers’ McCollum compete, and they saw what he could do.
“I was in the gym with those guys, most of the guys in the league, over the past year,” Anthony said. “They know it. They saw it. They experienced it. They were in the gym with me, they saw how locked in I was, so it was easy for them to support that. If I was just a guy out there not doing anything, they wouldn’t support that. It’s real, genuine love, and the people that know, they know.”
He liked how the coaching staff talked to him about starting Tuesday during their own private workout.
“Let’s be transparent,” Anthony said. “That was a miscommunication over the past couple seasons about what my role would be and what was expected from me. That was a big point in talking to those guys — ‘Let’s be transparent. There’s nothing I won’t be willing to do, but just let me know up front; whatever it is, just let me know. Put it all on the table and we will go from there.’”