Just over two years ago, Carmelo Anthony was waived by the Chicago Bulls after a mid-season trade, and appeared to be on his way out of the league. On Saturday night, he passed Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to move into 11th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
It was fitting that Anthony did so in one of his best performances of the season, pouring in 26 points on 8 of 14 from the field in the Portland Trail Blazers' 125-121 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. They weren't cheap buckets either. Anthony led the Blazers' with 10 points in the fourth quarter to help them put the game away.
After the win, Anthony explained what the milestone meant for him, expressing his gratitude that he's still in the league.
Anthony's full comments:
"I'm still here. I'm still here, I'm still playing, I'm still going, I'm still enjoying the game, I'm still happy. That's all that matters. We all know what Hakeem did for the game, the mark he left on this game will be unprecedented. I'm still here though, man. That's all that matters. I'm able to continue to play. I'm still here. And I'm still clowning."
Anthony now has 26,953 career points, which is second only to LeBron James among active players. In fact, those two are the only current players in the top-25 on the all-time scoring list.
Next up for Anthony will be breaking into the top-10, which he should do fairly soon. Elvin Hayes currently sits at No. 10, but is only 360 points ahead of Anthony. Assuming his current scoring average of just over 14 points per game, it would take Anthony about 26 games to reach that mark. With 35 games left on the Blazers' schedule, there's more than enough time for Anthony to get there before the end of the season.
While team success is obviously most important, the Blazers will hope that Anthony does achieve that feat, because it will mean he continues to be a productive secondary scorer for them. Though obviously well past his prime, Anthony has been a valuable signing for Portland because of his ability to shoot the 3 and score in isolation when the offense breaks down. With long-term injuries sidelining CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins so far, Anthony has been even more important to the Blazers' success.