Carmelo Anthony’s exit interview was by far the most entertaining of the day. The always candid and charismatic Anthony thanked the media for helping his transition from New York City to Oklahoma City a smooth one.
Then the questions came.
Anthony’s answers gave a glimpse past the Oklahoma City Thunder wall of secrecy that they are so famous for.
All season we had heard how much Anthony was willing to sacrifice for the team. The 14-year veteran described his talks with Billy Donovan as “organic” and “not planned” when talking about taking a reduced role.
Asked Melo in what ways Billy Donovan helped him transition. He mentions this Thunder team “had to learn on the fly” when he arrived. pic.twitter.com/934UQzeubW
— Brady Trantham (@BradyDoesSports) April 30, 2018
Of course, that was a minor reason Anthony gave. While it is silly to simply say that Oklahoma City didn’t have enough time to plan for a Big Three that included Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Anthony, timing does present issues.
Anthony revealed how he truly felt on the final question.
“I think everybody knows that I’ve sacrificed kind of damned near everything, family, moving here by myself,” Anthony answered. “Sacrificed my game for the sake of the team, and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for this situation to work out. So it’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball.
Many interpreted this as verbiage detrimental to winning.
If Anthony is unwilling to reduce his role further, how can Oklahoma City yield the most production from him? He isn’t the same player he used to be and his efficiency is no where near where the Thunder wants it to be.
Look no further than Chris Bosh. Once the go-to guy in Toronto who later became the third, and often chastised, option in Miami with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. In an October 2014 interview with Bleacher Report‘s Ethan Skolnick, Bosh went into detail about how difficult it is to accept a lesser role.
“You still have to go through things and you still have to figure out things on your own,” Bosh told Bleacher Report. “It’s like, wait a minute, I didn’t mean that (taking a reduced role), I want to win, but…”
Winning. I think winning will always be the most important thing for me at this point. -Carmelo Anthony
For fans, it is frustrating when athletes don’t do what fans assume is simple. If your team is giving up offensive rebound after rebound, the knee-jerk reaction is to bash the players for not simply boxing out. In reality, that action is easier said than done.
Advocating for him to come off the bench won’t solve any problems but rather make things worse. Anthony’s insistence of “not sacrificing no bench role” shows this. It also paints a different picture for his head coach Billy Donovan and the job he had this season.
All year, Donovan has gone to bat for his aged superstar. Never one to throw Anthony under the bus — even when the situation may have called for it — Donovan doubled down on his defense for Anthony at his exit interview.
Donovan was a tad defensive when asked if Melo needs a reduced role pic.twitter.com/8JEDkN0GfF
— Brady Trantham (@BradyDoesSports) April 28, 2018
“He’s come into a situation where he’s had to totally reinvent himself,” Donovan said. “He’s tried everything to do that. So it’s not about going into next year saying, hey, listen, you’re having a reduced role, this is your role.”
We can only go by what we are told through media scrums and press conferences. From what we are told, this is a situation that only one person can fix — Carmelo Anthony.
“Reevaluate.” A word that was used six times in two similar questions during the exit interview. If Anthony returns and the Thunder are going to improve their lackluster offensive output — considering the expectations — then the 10-time All-Star may have to reevaluate his status as a player. Something that Bosh, Kevin Love and even Ray Allen with the Boston Celtics had to do.
Dwyane Wade has extended his value and career by understanding he is not the same player he was three or four years ago. Vince Carter has had a similar reevaluation of his own career.
You just get your entree and that’s it. Wait a minute, I want my appetizer and my dessert and my drink! I’m hungry! It never gets easier. -Chris Bosh on the difficulty of taking a reduced role
A player as wise and self-reflective as Anthony knows this. Do not take this season, specifically the end, and believe that is all he has left. Anthony does bring a lot to the table and if Oklahoma City is going to meet their lofty expectations, Anthony will be a large part of it.
It isn’t easy. It isn’t glamorous. But if Anthony is truly about winning, he will find a happy medium between the player he wants to be and the player the Thunder need him to be and become that third option many envisioned when the trade went down.
Anthony could very well reevaluate his situation and decide the best thing to do is to take a reduced role. We don’t know. If Paul George returns, a second year could see better success.
If that’s the case, Anthony will have a lot to say about it.