Carmelo Anthony entered Sunday night’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats needing just three points to become the 40th member of the 20,000 point club in NBA history. Anthony scored his first points within 23 seconds – from his favored elbow position – but didn’t join the 20K club until there was 7:41 left in the first quarter after nailing a triple from the left wing.
He didn’t make any outwardly celebrations, but Anthony knew the milestone he had just surpassed. He finished with 28 points (12-for-22) and reflected on what the achievement meant to him post-game.
“It’s a humbling experience for me,” Anthony said. “I never thought that I would be sitting here talking about me scoring 20,000 points. I used to look, when I played with A. I. [Allen Iverson] back in Denver, I used to just look at him and see his stats and say, man, you’ve got like 20-something-thousand points, man. But I never thought I would be here talking about me actually reaching that milestone, so I’m definitely humbled by this experience.”
Of all the members of the 20K club only one, Tom Chambers, is not in the Hall-of-Fame. Anthony stopped short on dreaming of one day being enshrined, though.
“It’s kind of hard to think about it like that,” he said. “When I’m done with this game and that time comes, we’ll see what happens. But it’s kind of hard there to put my mind there right now.”
Anthony becomes the sixth youngest (30 years, 157 days) to reach the milestone – LeBron James was the youngest (28yrs, 17days).
Teammate J.R. Smith, who has been with Anthony since their days in Denver, congratulated his friend, saying it’s “unbelievable.”
“Watching him for many years …. I have seen him be the scoring champ, I have seen what he has accomplished overall,” said Smith. “It really is unbelievable. All the hard work has paid off.
“A lot of people in this league can’t say they’ve scored a hundred points, let alone score 20,000.”
Anthony will continue his ascent up the scoring ladder this season, he will likely pass Antawn Jamison (20,042) and Chambers (20,049) shortly.
One factor that may help Anthony speed up the rankings may be his efficient use of the basketball this season through games. Granted it’s a small sample but Melo is averaging 50% on his field goals so far. If he maintains this it would be the first time on his career that he would finish a season above 50%.
After having logged the most minutes per game of his career under Mike Woodson in 2013-14, Anthony is averaging a mere 32.7 early in ’14-15, perhaps keeping him fresh to close out games.
Derek Fisher says he is cognizant of that fact.
“I think it is important to allow for a guy, like Carmelo, who is a great closer and finisher of games, to have the energy level to do so,” said Fisher. The third quarter (Sunday night) was important and I think he played 11 minutes that quarter. Getting him some rest to start the fourth was important and I think it worked out well for him, not only offensively, as far as the shots he made, but defensively and hustling …. he finished strong.”
As time goes on and his athleticism begins to wane, a more efficient game in lesser minutes will ensure Melo keeps putting up points at a high level well into the twilight of his career.
Feature image credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images