LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have wanted to team up for a long time. The two friends entered the league together in 2003, have competed against each other in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, and have even vacationed together. Now that the two future Hall of Famers are teammates, they’ll aim to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their 18th title in franchise history.
It didn’t take much convincing for Anthony to come to LA. Especially when his friend LeBron personally made the call and helped sell him on the idea with a simple, heartfelt message.
Carmelo Anthony recalls the conversation between him and LeBron James
Carmelo has been donning the Purple and Gold since putting pen to paper on Aug. 6. The veteran, who is entering his 19th season, averaged 13.4 points in 24.5 minutes per game with the Portland Trail Blazers last season. The 2003 third overall pick also played in 69 of Portland’s 72 games, with nearly all of them off the bench.
Anthony was a recent guest on The Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast. During the interview, the 10-time All-Star was asked if he got a call from James during the recruiting process.
“It was a real call; it wasn’t no bulls***,” Anthony said. “I wasn’t expecting it from him, but we talked about it years before about getting with each other.”
“That’s my brother. I’ve known him since we were 15 or 16 years old. I heard it … ‘I need you.’ Say less. You already know what time it is when you hit me direct.'”Carmelo Anthony
The three words, “I need you,” were enough for Anthony to join LeBron on the Lakers. Shortly after the phone call, Melo inked a one-year pact with LA for $2.6 million.
LeBron and Carmelo’s friendship is rock-solid
As Anthony mentioned, the two All-Stars have known each other since their high school days. Since then, both players have shared a number of career parallels. They entered the NBA together in ’03, helped turn their teams around quickly (Cleveland Cavaliers for James and Denver Nuggets for Anthony), and left for bigger markets (Miami Heat, New York Knicks) around the same time, as well.
But through all of the years, Melo told Ebony Magazine how solid his friendship with LeBron is to this day.
“We go back [to when we were] 15, 16 years old,” Anthony said. “We never had to force anything — a conversation, being around each other. It just happens so organically with us. We put an oath up, no matter what happens, we would never let any outsiders come between us and put any BS in our friendship. I could knock your head off on the court; you could knock my teeth out on the court. It doesn’t matter. When we get outside that rectangle, we’re brothers — no matter what anybody says. And, we stood on that. And to this day, we stand on that. Nobody will break that bond.”
“He [Anthony] can call me anytime, any day,” James told reporters before he and the Heat took on Melo’s Knicks in 2014. “And whatever it is, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing. It’s to a point where if anything happened to him, I wouldn’t mind bringing his family on. It’s one of those relationships.”
Anthony should be a plus for the Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony might not be the face of a franchise he was in Denver or New York. But at 37, he has proven he can still be a serviceable scorer.
One of the biggest positives Melo adds to the Lakers is his outside shooting. Despite never being considered an elite three-point shooter, the veteran is coming off of a career-best 40.9% with the Trail Blazers. He’ll join other shooters Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, and Malik Monk as new additions fresh off 40% or better seasons from deep.
Additionally, Melo should improve an LA bench that fell a little flat in 2020-21. Former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell never found his footing in LA, while Kyle Kuzma once again struggled with consistency. Both players, considered to be the Lakers’ top scoring options off the bench, were dealt to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
There’s also the bonus of chemistry, something you can’t measure on a stat sheet. LeBron had success playing with longtime friend Dwyane Wade in Miami, going to four NBA Finals and winning two of them. Now the King hopes teaming up with another close friend can bring him his fifth overall title … and Melo’s first.