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Carmelo Anthony Retires From NBA After 19 Seasons

Anthony, known as one of the top scorers in league history, had struggled in recent years and did not play the 2022-23 season.
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Carmelo Anthony Announces Retirement After 19 N.B.A. Seasons

Anthony, known as one of the top scorers in league history, had struggled in recent years and did not play the 2022-23 season.

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Carmelo Anthony, wearing a white Knicks jersey with the No. 7, going up for a dunk with his right hand.
Carmelo Anthony during a game in 2012.Credit...Jason Szenes for The New York Times
Sopan Deb
May 22, 2023Updated 4:52 p.m. ET

Carmelo Anthony, the former Knicks star and one of the greatest scorers in N.B.A. history, announced his retirement on Monday, calling the farewell after 19 seasons “bittersweet.”

Anthony, 38, last played in April 2022 as a reserve for the Los Angeles Lakers and spent the final few seasons of his career in more limited roles.

“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,” Anthony said in a glossily produced video posted to social networks on Monday. The video included career highlights, with the song “All That I Got Is You” by Ghostface Killah featuring Mary J. Blige in the background.

Anthony said he was “excited about what the future holds.”

Thank you #STAYME7O

— Carmelo Anthony (@carmeloanthony) May 22, 2023

The Denver Nuggets drafted Anthony third overall out of Syracuse in 2003 after he led the school to a Division I N.C.A.A. national championship. Anthony might have been drafted higher if not for a player he would form a close friendship with: LeBron James, who went first overall to Cleveland.

Anthony immediately demonstrated his prowess for scoring. His elite footwork, burly physique and quick release on his jumper from anywhere on the court made him difficult to guard. Paul Pierce, the Hall of Famer, said earlier this year that he would have rather guarded Kobe Bryant or James than Anthony.

Anthony led the Nuggets to the playoffs in his rookie year. He jab-stepped, up-faked and posted up his way to 10 All-Star Games and six All-N.B.A. teams. Anthony ended his career with 28,289 total points — good for ninth in N.B.A. history. He also won three Olympic gold medals and one bronze.

Anthony against LeBron James in 2012. Both players were drafted in 2003, with James picked first overall and Anthony picked third.Credit...Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Many Knicks fans are particularly fond of Anthony, who was born in Brooklyn and pressured the Nuggets to trade him to New York in 2011 so he could team up with a fellow All-Star, Amar’e Stoudemire. The move gave the fan base some optimism after a decade of incompetence from the front office.

The partnership never fully bore fruit, thanks mainly to injuries to Stoudemire. But Anthony did provide memorable performances at Madison Square Garden, including a game in 2014 in which he scored 62 points, a franchise record. Anthony also led the Knicks to one of their only playoff series wins of the century, in 2013 against the Boston Celtics.

All told, Anthony played for six teams: the Nuggets, Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Lakers.

Anthony’s career had several speed bumps.

He developed a reputation for lax defense and hogging the ball. His former Nuggets coach, George Karl, wrote in his 2017 memoir that Anthony “only played hard on one side of the ball.” And while Anthony’s teams reliably made the playoffs, he made it as far as the conference finals only once, in 2009 with the Nuggets.

Anthony with the Denver Nuggets in 2011.Credit...Amy Sancetta/Associated Press

Like many All-Stars before him, Anthony struggled to adjust to a drop-off in his game as he entered the back half of his career. After the Knicks traded him to Oklahoma City before the 2017-18 season, he appeared to have the best chance of his career to win a championship because he was teaming up with Paul George and Russell Westbrook, perennial All-Stars. But he scoffed at the idea of coming off the bench, and many fans blamed him when the team fizzled out early in the playoffs.

Soon, Anthony’s career was hanging in the balance. He appeared in just 10 games for Houston in the 2018-19 season before he was sidelined and later traded to Chicago, though he never played in any games for the Bulls and was quickly waived. He revitalized his career in Portland over the next two seasons by accepting the bench role that he had laughed at in Oklahoma City. He ended his career playing next to James in Los Angeles.

Off the court, Anthony became increasingly outspoken on social issues, including police violence, after appearing in a homemade video titled “Stop Snitching” early in his career. The video discouraged people from talking to the police about crimes.

After George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in 2020, Anthony formed a philanthropic investment fund with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade to invest in communities of color, as well as to push for causes like changes to the criminal justice system.

In his retirement video, Anthony said that he did not believe his legacy to be his on-court feats because his “story has always been more than basketball.”

“My legacy? My son,” Anthony said, addressing his teenage son, Kiyan Anthony. He added: “Chase your dreams. Let nothing hold you back. Let nothing intervene. My legacy now and forever lives on through you.”

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