NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carmelo Anthony had accepted the possibility that his NBA career might be over.
That seems to have liberated him to come back on his own terms when he signed with the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I came to a point where I was willing to accept it either way,” Anthony said after playing the first game of his 17th season with his sixth NBA team on Tuesday night. “I had to get myself mentally prepared for that and I did, to be honest with you.
“I stayed with it, but there was times where I didn’t want to. I wanted to just say, ‘Forget it, move on with my life, spend more time with my family.’ I started getting more comfortable with that,” Anthony continued. “I come into this game with a totally different mindset, totally different motivation.”
Anthony’s Portland debut — played across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship — was not a triumphant one. He missed 10 of 14 shots, finished with 10 points, and the Blazers lost 115-104 in New Orleans.
But Anthony was in good spirits when he exited the locker room and stood in a hallway, patiently taking questions and often smiling as he spoke introspectively about the significance of his first NBA game action since his unceremonious departure from the Houston Rockets a year ago, after appearing in just 10 games.
“The greatest feeling of it all was to feel wanted by a group of guys who believe in me and my talent and what I can bring to the table,” said the 10-time All-Star, who has averaged about 24 points per game during his career. “It wasn’t just the players, it was the coaching staff. They showed a strong belief in me and what I can still do.”
He started right away, even before he’d participated in a single full practice with the Blazers. He…