Context is everything, especially when it comes to NBA Player of the Week. Typically, the award doesn't carry much weight, and is nothing more than a pat on the back for the top player in each conference that week. No one is going around congratulating LeBron James on winning his millionth Player of the Week award.
That being said, when someone unlikely wins the award, like a rookie or a bench player who balls out for a week, it's likely to stir some reactions. That's what happened when Carmelo Anthony was for the Portland Trail Blazers. Again, context is everything.
Anthony previously hadn't played in a year after getting released by the Houston Rockets just 10 games into his time with the team. The Blazers took a flier on the 10-time All-Star, signing him to a non-guaranteed deal last month. After getting off to a rough start in the first three games, Anthony looked like his former self this past week, averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists over three games.
In the Blazers' 107-103 win over the Chicago Bulls, Anthony posted his first double-double since his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Watching Anthony show everyone that they were wrong in shutting him out of the league for over a year has been a positive storyline this season, and he's also provided the Blazers with a much-needed spark after digging themselves deep into a hole to start the 2019-20 season.
Anthony's comeback has been truly heartwarming to witness, and something that no one could've predicted when he signed with Portland last month. In fact, NBA Twitter quickly reacted after hearing the news:
Giannis Antetokounmpo (East) and CARMELO ANTHONY (West) are the NBA players of the week, league announces.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) December 2, 2019
There's a headline no one saw coming two months ago.
Carmelo Anthony has just been named the NBA's Western Conference Player of the Week. No matter what happens from here, that's flat-out remarkable and says a tremendous amount about not just what he's still got, basketball-wise, but his mental discipline as well.— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) December 2, 2019
While there was plenty of shock and pure happiness for Anthony, who many thought would never play in the NBA again, several people pointed out the fact that James Harden probably should've been given the honor after dropping 60 points last week in just three quarters:
Really cool that Carmelo was named Western Conference Player of the Week. Even though James Harden scored 60 points in three quarters it’s still cool that Melo won it. Did I mention Harden scored 60 and sat the entire fourth?— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) December 2, 2019
While Harden's 60-point performance was nothing short of extraordinary, Anthony's comeback has been a joy to watch, regardless of rooting interest. There might have been players who posted better stat lines last week in the West. In fact, Luka Doncic could also be mentioned in that conversation after averaging 35 points in three games, including a win over Harden's Rockets. Still, there isn't a more compelling storyline happening in the NBA right now than Anthony's comeback journey.
To see Anthony getting rewarded for his efforts, after so much doubt surrounded him about returning to the league, will likely fuel him even more to make an even bigger impact with the Blazers this season.