Blazers’ Damian Lillard says Carmelo Anthony never played victim card when asked about time with Thunder, Rockets
Damian Lillard inquired about Carmelo Anthony’s recent history, specifically his last two stops with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets in the last two years before landing with the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this month.
Lillard asked Melo upfront and was impressed with his forthcoming response:
“I asked him what these last two years were like,” Lillard told Jason Quick of The Athletic. “And he broke it down to me and gave me a different understanding of the stuff that happened, and he didn’t say it to me as a victim,” Lillard said. “And that made me respect him even more. Because the whole time people have been saying all this stuff on his name — from New York, to OKC, to Houston — he never spoke bad on nobody. He never even said nothing. He just stayed quiet. And I really respected that.”
Lillard pointed out his relationship with Jusuf Nurkic, who he considers one of his best friends. Nurk had developed a reputation for trash-talking in the league and upon meeting, the 7-footer never ran away from it — something Lillard respected. Same is true with Anthony, who acknowledged his faults and owned up to them.
“So that was one of my first experiences in the league of people saying stuff, and me like, ‘Nah. He’s not that way.’ With Nurk, he never acted like the victim. So when Melo had that same thing, when he wasn’t the victim about what happened, I was like, OK, this guy is genuine. He could have easily tried to play it that way, but he didn’t. You gotta respect that.”
Anthony looked like the victim of blackballing due to his reputation as a lone wolf scorer and the narrative around him, which had frustrated him to the point where he deemed it necessary to go on ESPN to voice his readiness. He took a different approach with Lillard, which so far has paid off in bunches.
“I’ve been there before, with that mindset of playing the victim card,” said Anthony. “I’m past that now. So it was easy for me to come to him and tell him, ‘Look, this is what it is, this is what happened, this is what I do, this is why I’m here. Let’s go.’”
The Blazers are only 1-3 with Anthony, though they’ve battled injuries to Lillard and Hassan Whiteside during his brief stint with the team. Only time will tell if Portland made the right move, but by the looks of it, Lillard and the locker room are glad to have him around.