Throughout Carmelo Anthony’s 18-year NBA career, he’s never won a championship.
During his illustrious career, the Trail Blazers forward has been named All-Star 10 times, climbed his way up to No. 15 on the all-time NBA scoring list, earned All-NBA honors on six occasions, and took home three gold medals for Team U.S.A. in the Olympic Games.
As Melo, 36, continues to carve out his NBA legacy in Rip City, his teammate Damian Lillard wants to make sure the future Hall of Famer gets his shot at a Larry O’Brien trophy.
“I tell him, you’re not going to play with nobody like me,” Lillard said on a recent Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe. “Of course, I want to win it for me, but I want my legacy to be tied to yours, because you going to have a great comeback story because you was on the couch, they weren't trying to play you and you came back, we welcomed you. I want to see you, you’re going to be a Hall of Famer, but I want you to have your ring too...
Melo will once again play a key role for a contending Trail Blazers squad who have made the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons. After showing his loyalty to Portland and re-signing with the team on a one-year deal this offseason, the 10x All-Star made it clear his championship hopes are still alive.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have high hopes,” Anthony said. “I would just be playing my swan song. I have higher hopes of being with this group and being with this team, being a major part of this team and our team’s success.”
Lillard, too, is hoping he can craft a fairytale ending to Melo’s career. Considering Portland's new-look roster, it's fair to say the Trail Blazers have a shot.
Along with Melo, the Blazers return versatile offensive weapons and sharpshooters like Lillard and CJ McCollum. Mix in a defensive anchor like Jusuf Nurkic, and newcomers Robert Covington and Derrick Jones, and you’ve got a roster full of versatile shooters and finishers on both ends of the floor.
But the Trail Blazers roster is much more stacked than that. Add in Rodney Hood, Harry Giles, Zach Collins, Enes Kanter, Anfernee Simons, and bubble-standout Gary Trent Jr and you’ve got a deep, deep roster.
“If it all falls into place, and we do what we supposed to do, we can do it. I really feel like we can do it,” Lillard said. “We’ve got the makeup to get it done, it’s just a matter of how committed we going to be to that. What do it really mean to us?”
Time will tell if the Trail Blazers can end a 44-year drought in Portland and bring back the championship trophy. But either way, a championship, won’t define what Melo or Lillard’s loyalty truly mean to Rip City.