After his strong first season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony had no shortage of options on the free-agent market. Many teams were interested in potentially adding the veteran forward and solid scorer to bolster their chances of winning a title.
But Anthony decided to return to the Blazers, and a conversation he had with Blazers president Neil Olshey had a big impact on his decision to do so.
As outlined in a recent episode of The Woj Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski, Olshey told Anthony that Portland wanted to "protect his legacy". That comment meant a lot to Carmelo.
"In this league, and in sports period, you don't hear things like that," Anthony said. "You don't hear an organization or the president of a professional organization come to a player and sit down and let them know, 'We want to protect your legacy.' You don't hear people talk about that. You don't hear no one talk about other people's legacies. It's always, 'What can you do for us?'"
Those comments from Olshey helped Anthony to make his decision, especially since he already felt at home in Portland and felt like he was in a groove with the team they had.
"I already knew what I wanted to do," Anthony said. "I knew that I was comfortable here in Portland."
It makes sense. After all, Anthony had a good first season with the Blazers even despite having his season split into two halves by the COVID-19 pandemic. And in the second half of the NBA season, his confidence in his playing ability came back full force.
"I approached that as this was my second season for the Portland Trail Blazers," Anthony said of his time in the NBA's bubble. "I was very comfortable and very solid and ready to go in the bubble."
Anthony's readiness was apparent from the get-go in the bubble. He looked like vintage Melo at times for the Blazers.
Anthony averaged 16.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in the team's eight regular-season bubble games before averaging 15.2 points and 5.0 boards in five playoff games. He did help spark the Blazers a bit when they needed a push to earn the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
And the team's performance in the bubble is another reason that Anthony wanted to return to the Blazers in free agency. He believes that the sky is truly the limit for this squad.
"We have an opportunity to do something special here with this group and this team."