Carmelo Anthony retires after 19 NBA seasons: The legacy he leaves, on and off the court

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By David Aldridge, Nick Kosmider, Fred Katz and Joe Vardon 

Carmelo Anthony retired from basketball Monday, concluding a career that spanned 19 NBA seasons and included 10 All-Star Game appearances. Anthony announced his retirement in a video posted to social media. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Anthony is ninth on the NBA all-time scoring list with 28,289 career points.
  • The 38-year-old’s resume features stints with six different teams: the Nuggets (2003-2011), Knicks (2011-2017), Thunder (2017-2018), Rockets (2018-2019), Trail Blazers (2019-2021) and Lakers (2021-2022).
  • Anthony was the NBA scoring champion during the 2012-13 season with 28.7 points per game.
  • A four-time Olympian, he boasts three gold medals (2008, 2012, 2016) and a bronze (2004).

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

How will Anthony be remembered?

Anthony’s career could be summed up thusly: He was a bucket. For much of his career (until the last few years of itinerant wandering from spot to spot), few players in the game were better at putting the brown ball through the metal hoop. Yet ’Melo should also be lauded for becoming more comfortable with using his voice to bring attention to causes outside of the game. He will be remembered for taking part in the opening of the 2016 ESPYs in July, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, decrying police violence against people of color, as well as mass casualty shootings around the country.

But I also remember what Carmelo did later that year, in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Americans were told, explicitly, not to go into the “favelas” — the neighborhoods in the hills above the city that housed many of Rio’s poorest citizens. “Unsafe! Crime! Stay away!” We were told, over and over. Yet Carmelo went in, with no security detail, over and over, to visit with people that were shocked and delighted to see him.

He did it, he said, to give a voice to those who were voiceless, after being reluctant earlier in his career to speak out. That he was doing so after winning his third gold medal, and being the unquestioned leader of that ’16 U.S. team, spoke to how, while he will no doubt be remembered as a great scorer, he had become much, much more. — Aldridge 

Anthony’s legacy in Denver

When Anthony was selected by Nuggets with the third pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, he represented a hope that hadn’t existed for Denver’s basketball franchise for much of the previous two decades. The Nuggets had missed the playoffs eight straight times and hadn’t won a postseason series since 1994. All Anthony did after being selected out of Syracuse was lead the Nuggets to the playoffs in each of his seven full seasons with the team, including a trip to the 2009 Western Conference Finals.

He was a pure scorer with the ability to take over games and ignite the Pepsi Center at a moment’s notice. Though Anthony’s 2010 trade request stung the fan base, he was inarguably one of the most talented players to ever don a Denver jersey. In 564 games with the Nuggets, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists. That he wore the same number (15) as the greatest player in team history, two-time MVP Nikola Jokić, will make the logistics of a jersey retirement tricky, but there is no doubt as to Anthony’s profound impact on the franchise. — Kosmider

Embraced by the Knicks

Anthony’s legacy with the Knicks will always be that he chose them, not the other way around. He wanted New York, wanted the Garden, a desire that resonated especially well with the fan base considering the timing of his arrival. The Knicks dealt for Anthony just before the 2011 trade deadline, less than a year after hopes for James or Chris Bosh, who joined Wade in Miami, fell flat.

Anthony was the other all-time great from the draft class of 2003. He pushed his way to the Knicks, joining Amar’e Stoudemire. He embraced his role in the city, even as most of the teams he played on squandered. He won a scoring title. He was the top dog on that 54-win squad in 2012-13, the Knicks’ best group since the 1990s.

Anthony attended a Knicks playoff game only a few weeks ago, sitting front at center at MSG. Fans gave him a standing ovation when his face popped up on the jumbotron. To this day — even after he concluded his Knicks tenure with four consecutive losing seasons and then finished out his career with the Thunder, Rockets, Trail Blazers ad Lakers — they remember the positives. After all, this is a group of people who have not experienced much basketball positivity over the past two decades. But it’s difficult to ignore: the fan base embraces him, in part, because of how he embraced them. — Katz

Olympic achievements

Anthony is one of the greatest in USA Basketball’s illustrious history.

The organization’s first four-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist, Anthony is the American Olympic leader in games (31) and rebounds (125), and is second in a number of categories behind Kevin Durant, including total points (336). He was perhaps the third most important member of the Redeem Team, behind James and Kobe Bryant, and was USAB’s second-leading scorer at the 2016 Games.

This summer, Anthony is serving as one of three global ambassadors for the 2023 FIBA World Cup — a nod to his storied presence in international basketball. — Vardon 


Before being selected by the Nuggets in 2003, Anthony led Syracuse to its first ever NCAA Tournament title. During his lone season with the Orange, he averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Anthony is the only player in NBA history to score 50 points without a single point in the paint. He is one of two players in NBA history to score 62 or more points without a single assist, the other being Bryant.

What they’re saying

“I remember the days when I had nothing. Just a ball on the court and a dream of something more. But basketball was my outlet. My purpose was strong, my communities, the cities I represented with pride and the fans that supported me along the way. I am forever grateful for those people and places because they made me Carmelo Anthony.

“But now the time has come for me to say goodbye. To the court where I made my name, to the game that gave me purpose and pride. With this bittersweet goodbye to the NBA, I am excited about what the future holds for me. When people ask what I believe my legacy is, it’s not my feats on the court that come to mind, nor the awards or praise, because my story has always been more than basketball. My legacy, my son, it’s in you. I will forever continue through you because the time has come for you to carry this torch. So (Kiyan), chase your dreams. Let nothing hold you back. Let nothing intervene. My legacy, now and forever, lives on through you. And I will always be proud of all that you do. Peace,” Anthony said in his retirement announcement video.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver congratulated Anthony on his retirement. 

“Carmelo Anthony is one of the NBA’s all-time great players and ambassadors. We congratulate him on a remarkable 19-year career and look forward to seeing him in the Hall of Fame.”

Required reading

(Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images) 

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