Life is dotted with moments in time that turn out to be pivotal or landmark in our personal journeys. Age, a milestone of time spent in a career, devastating injury and loss are all examples of instances of these types of moments. For this series, I’ll take a look at a few players who have reached those points in their NBA journeys, providing a perspective around them that I hope sheds insight into who these players are and how their individual life paths are expressed through basketball. I, through The Sports Fan Journal and with Phillip Barnett on visual aid, present: The Crossroads. The first player we’ll highlight is Carmelo Anthony.
Years Played: 15
2017-18 Stats: 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 40.4% fg, 35.7% 3fg in 78 games
Song Relevant To His Crossroads: Beyoncé – “Ego”
Every person gets older with each passing day. And with each passing day as adults, the way we grow and change—well—changes. Instead of getting taller and having acne on our faces, another hair turns gray and our temperaments become more permanent. While the adage, “You’re either growing or dying,” has some truth to it, there is also a bond between growth and death when tied by age. I mean, we say we “grow” old but also carry the grim reality that our youth will fade as we age.
Getting older can lend itself to produce stubbornness. And stubbornness can cloud our perspectives. We want the benefits that come with knowledge, wisdom and experience, but we don’t want to relinquish the exuberance and energy of youth. In short, we want to change without accepting all forms of change. We want to get to our prime in life and always remain there, only confirming and adjusting as we see fit, not how life dictates we should.
Carmelo Anthony has been one of this generation’s best players for fifteen years. He is the third-best player from the incredible 2003 NBA Draft class. He is one of the game’s best scorers ever. His offensive brilliance lies in both his repertoire as well as his gift of not using a bunch of wasted movement to score. Carmelo makes his mind up with what he’s going to do on the court and it has resulted in a fifteen-year career with strong odds to make the Hall of Fame. But it is here where he’s at a crossroads. This may be shocking to some of you, but:
Carmelo Anthony is stubborn.
While you pick your exploded brains off your screen after that jarring revelation to continue reading, understand that this stubbornness is why he is as great—yes, great—as he is. I’ve mentioned a few traits and ideals that basketball players need to maximize their effectiveness. Determination is one of those, and determination is just stubbornness with more wherewithal to change the path to the goal without changing the goal. Determination acknowledges setbacks with the perspective of change, while stubbornness refuses to look inward and move forward.
For over a thousand NBA games and dozens more as an amateur, Carmelo Anthony has been able to rely on how Carmelo Anthony views basketball, and it has brought him tons of individual success. But sometimes, change forces us to analyze ourselves. That analysis can be met with stubbornness, especially as we age. We believe we can lift as much weight, run as many miles, eat all that food that we did when younger. Carmelo Anthony believes he is still a superstar player. Shortly after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was asked about possibly coming off the bench, which he scoffed at that idea with a smirk on his face. Most of us were on Anthony’s side, knowing he’s too good to come off the bench. But as the season went along, it became clear that Melo needed to adjust, which he didn’t.
Back to growth and dying. Life is not totally binary, in that regard. Within that broad scope of progress and hindrance lies a series of changes. For example, we all get older. Athletes are no exception to that. However, the great ones who sustain greatness longer than we expect, understand and embrace the changes that come with age and mold their games to their new limits and capabilities. Then, as we are familiar with, there are former star athletes who cannot accept the inevitability of the decay. Father Time is undefeated because the concept of time is more stubborn than any of us. It will never change. We will always be made to change because of it.
Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Atlanta Hawks and subsequently bought out of his contract. It is presumed he’ll sign with the Houston Rockets. He’ll be a valued asset for them, but only if he realizes it is he who must change. He must conform with the current times and maximize himself in a diminished role. He is still a very good player with a lot to offer, but change is necessary.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse’s good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.