Carmelo Anthony says the end of his tenure with the Houston Rockets made him question whether he wanted to still play in the NBA.
“I felt like the game didn’t want me back at that point in time,” Anthony told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on First Take, referring to a period in which he described himself as being “emotionally vulnerable.”
Now, Anthony says the passion to play is back.
“I’m in the gym every single day,” Anthony said. He also noted “silence is not my surrender” and that he has been quiet until now because he felt like he needed to step away from the game to “reevaluate myself, reevaluate my career, reevaluate my life.”
Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star and six-time All-NBA player, last suited up for the Rockets for a 10-game stint that ended early in the 2018 season.
He said he doesn’t blame friend Chris Paul or even two-time former coach Mike D’Antoni, and said he never had a conversation with James Harden about his Rockets exit.
Anthony said being told by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that he was being let go was a shock.
“He came in and basically said, ‘Look, your services are no longer needed,'” Anthony said of his conversation with Morey. “I was like, ‘What? Hold up. What the hell are you talking about?’ … You telling me I can’t make a 9-, 10-man rotation on this team?'”
Anthony said of his conversation with Morey that he “didn’t like how that went down” and it caused him to have doubts about himself.
“That was an ego hit. That was a pride hit,” Anthony said. “I started questioning myself after that. Can I still do this? What did I do? I asked him this. … He just said it wasn’t working out.
“When somebody in power that tells you that they no longer need your services … I’ve been utilizing my services for a long time. For you to tell me you don’t need that no more. I honestly felt that I was fired. I felt like [what] other people go through on a day-to-day basis. People get fired. I honestly felt like I got fired.”
In addition to the Rockets, Anthony has played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets with his greatest success coming with the Knicks and Nuggets.
Anthony won the league’s scoring title in the 2012-13 season, averaging 28.3 points per game. That season was the last time the Knicks made the playoffs and began a five-season absence from the postseason for Anthony, who had made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons between his time in Denver and New York.
“I never said anything about a farewell tour,” Anthony said in responding to reports that he wants one last season and a Dwyane Wade-like, season-long goodbye around the league.
Anthony is considered a future Hall of Famer whenever he does retire. He is the only 3-time Olympic gold medalist in men’s basketball and he won a national championship at Syracuse. In his NBA career, Anthony has averaged 24.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
But retirement doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of Anthony’s mind right now.
“I know I can still play.”