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At the start of this season, Carmelo Anthony’s NBA career seemed like a thing of the past. After a disastrous spell with the Houston Rockets, the forward couldn’t land a job; then, in November, the Portland Trail Blazers came calling. Anthony went from facing retirement to making headlines in the blink of an eye.

Carmelo Anthony almost retired before joining the Portland Trail Blazers.
Carmelo Anthony came close to retiring during the offseason. | Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

While most of us probably suspected Anthony’s career was coming to an end, retirement was a much bigger possibility than we might have thought. In fact, the forward recently revealed how close he came to hanging up his sneakers for good.

Carmelo Anthony’s rise and fall

While our recent memories of Carmelo Anthony might be somewhat tainted, the forward was a legitimate star when he entered the NBA. When he arrived in Denver as the third overall pick, the Nuggets were one of the league’s lowliest franchises. The forward changed that perception immediately; as a rookie, he averaged 21 points per game, helping the club return to the playoffs.

Anthony improved each season, and the Nuggets kept making the postseason, but things were far from perfect. Denver couldn’t get over the hump, and Carmelo grew tired of being the bridesmaid rather than the bride. During the 2010-11 season, however, everything changed. The forward asked for and received a trade to the New York Knicks.

While moving to Broadway should have allowed Anthony to climb to the NBA’s highest heights, nothing ever runs smoothly with the Knicks. At first, he formed a formidable partnership with Amar’e Stoudemire; before long, however, things began to crumble. Anthony found himself trapped in an extended clash with Phil Jackson. The only resolution was a move to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

From then on, Anthony’s career spiraled downwards. He spent one season with the Thunder before signing with the Houston Rockets, when he managed to fall well below expectations at both ends of the floor. After that brief spell in Texas, Anthony was traded to Chicago in January; he was promptly waived and found himself with an NBA job.

Facing the prospect of retirement

In November, Carmelo Anthony returned to action with the Portland Trail Blazers. The forward recently revealed, however, that he was readying himself for retirement.

“I was preparin’ myself,” Anthony told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “And I had prepared myself to kinda just walk away from the game—if the right situation didn’t come about.”

“I was ready to walk away, yeah,” Anthony said. “It was hard. But there came a point when I was, like, ‘You know what? I’ve given a lot to this game. I played 15, 16 years in this game. I’m ready to give it up, because I just knew that at that point in time from a basketball standpoint, that narrative that it — it was already out there. So I’d been fightin’ an uphill battle anyway if I didn’t go to the right situation.”

Thankfully, that right situation seems to exist in Portland.

Has Carmelo Anthony revived his career?

After getting off to a rough start in Portland, Carmelo Anthony seems to have a new lease on life. He’s wearing a divinely-inspired number, has his mind in the right place, and even won a Western Conference Player of the Week Award. Could the aging forward really be turning things around?

While Carmelo has been on a good run of form, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Anthony hasn’t even 10 games this season and remains a shell of his former self; while he’s doing better than anyone expected, he’s still a 35-year-old NBA veteran. No one, especially Carmelo Anthony, is going to change his game at this point in their career. For as long as he remains in the NBA, he’ll be a capable offensive player—albeit with ball stopping tendencies—and a liability on the defense.

If there’s one positive to Carmelo’s return to action, it’s that he gets restore a bit of his well-earned reputation; it would be a shame if our last memories of a generational talent were his final days in Houston. Everyone is going to retire at some point. At least when Carmelo Anthony hangs it up, he’ll have done so on his terms rather than being forced out of the league.