How Damian Lillard, Carmelo Anthony built a strong bond with Blazers
The return to form of 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony with the Portland Trail Blazers this season has been one of the best narratives in the NBA. As it turns out, Blazers superstar Damian Lillard had a significant role to play in Anthony’s comeback of sorts.
When Anthony signed with the Blazers last November, Lillard went out of his way to make the veteran feel welcome. This came in the form of deep and lengthy conversations, which gave Lillard a better appreciation of Anthony’s character. The fact that Melo never spoke negatively about any of his former teams was something that stuck with Lillard.
“That made me respect him even more, because the whole time people have been saying all this stuff on his name — from New York to OKC to Houston — he never spoke bad on nobody. He never said nothing,” Lillard said, via Jason Quick of The Athletic. “He just stayed quiet. And I really respected that.”
This marked the beginning of what would turn out to be a valuable relationship between the two players, and one the would ultimately benefit the Blazers as a team.
Portland has emerged as one of the hottest teams since the restart, but they went through a bit of a bump on the road on Saturday in a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Lillard received some criticism for his performance against LA, but Anthony stood by his teammate. This is exactly why Melo was one of the first to congratulate his buddy for a tremendous bounce-back performance just one night later. Anthony was all praises for Lillard’s outstanding 51-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, as the Blazers closed in on the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the West.
The Blazers seem to have been missing something over the past few years, and as it seems, Carmelo Anthony might just be that missing piece of the puzzle.