LOS ANGELES – Just one more interesting thing about Carmelo Anthony after he captured last week's Western Conference Player of the Week award:
He's become something of a new hero to basketball fans, not just in Portland but all over.
We heard it when fans in Chicago chanted his name during Portland's win over the Bulls last week. And not only are they wildly cheering him in Portland, I expect he will get positive reactions, with few exceptions, in enemy arenas this season.
The buzz is there. Social media is alive with chatter about his comeback and I must say, it's what everyone wants to talk to me about these days..
Certainly, he's played well over his team's last three games, averaging 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 57.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range. Not only that, his team is 3-0 in that span.
That's terrific and it doesn't even account for what his presence on the floor is doing to get open shots for teammates.
He beat out James Harden and his 60-points-in-three-quarters game for the PO award. And he trumped Luka and LeBron doing what they do.
I believe there's a real element of warmth to his story -- a man whom everyone thought was finished. Washed up. Over the hill. Done. But a man who fought through all that and found another chance with an unlikely team a long way from home.
Who can't identify with that? Who can't help but feel good for him?
And in this case, it's a player saddled with a lot of heavy baggage. He's had a whole lot of bad raps. You know – a cancer in the locker room, ball hog, selfish, bad guy, not a winner. I have no idea where these things came from because he's spent a good portion of his career doing his work a long way from here. All I know is that he was this country's first basketball player to win three gold medals and a player known as a "glue guy" holding those talented teams together. His Olympic coach, Mike Krzyzewski said this about him:
We ask the guys for a commitment and selfless service. But Carmelo is a perfect example of commitment for the Olympics. That's his entire playing career and to devote that amount of time is remarkable really, and it's not been done. He's been such a good guy to coach.
He's had a fresh start in Portland and it's been a hot start. And he may have as many fans on his side now than he ever has in his career. So far, it's one heck of an amazing story.
Listen to this week's Talkin' Blazers podcast here: