PORTLAND, Ore. — Marcus Morris is just five years younger than Carmelo Anthony, but he grew up wanting to emulate him, modeling his game on the high-scoring Anthony’s style. And now, as he was preparing to face Anthony Tuesday, he strongly supports Anthony’s return to the NBA.
Anthony has been back in the NBA for less than a month after sitting out for a year after being put out of action by the Houston Rockets last season and waiting for some team to come calling for his services. Anthony joined Portland after the Trail Blazers saw their roster beaten down by injuries -- already without Jusuf Nurkic and then seeing Zach Collins sidelined for the rest of the year. Anthony has won a Western Conference Player of the Week award and settled into the starting lineup for the Trail Blazers.
“Yeah, no doubt about it,” Morris said. “That’s not disrespecting nobody, but there’s guys in this league that can’t really tie Melo’s shoes — now. So for sure, he should have been in the league. But it always comes full circle and he’s a real one. I always say the real never lose, so he’s back and he’s doing what he did.
“I don’t like to talk about the past. He’s here now. He’s doing his thing. Obviously, I was one of the guys rooting for him. I thought he should have been on the USA team, but it is what it is. He’s back now. I’m happy for him. He’s going to continue to be Melo and it’s good for the league.”
The Knicks had Anthony playing with some of their current roster before the season began, but they passed on a chance to bring him back to the city he was still calling home.
Now they were facing him for the first time since he came back and third time since he was traded away to Oklahoma City just before the start of the 2017-18 season.
“Man, I enjoy going against Melo,” Morris said. “Growing up he always was my favorite player. Even when I came into the draft, I was like, yeah, I’m going to be like Melo. You know what I’m saying? Over the years it’s been really good to go against him. I watched a lot of film on him.
“Melo’s been one of the best scorers in this league for a long time. He’s still doing it. I’m very happy for him, very impressed that he could come from not playing for a while and make a great impact like he has.”
Anthony said earlier this week that he still watches the Knicks. He's and was unhappy to see David Fizdale gone as head coach. He struggles to understand what the team has done: trading away Kristaps Porzingis and falling to 4-19 with a nine-game losing streak entering their meeting Tuesday. But he still was excited to face them.
“It’s a big deal from the standpoint of I know everybody in New York will be watching, even though it’s a late game,” Anthony said. “Family, friends. It’s always that special moment anyway. Just people to see me back playing against the Knicks. A special, special game? It’s another game on our schedule that we’re trying to win, that we got to win, but it’s somewhat special from a standpoint of friends and family getting an opportunity to see me play.”
Julius Randle, who figures to get the first crack defending Anthony, joked when asked about stopping him, “I got a plan but not going to tell you. The plan’s going to work. He’s not going to score. It’s going to be crazy. He’s not going to score one time. What is he? Top 13 in points? It’s going to be his first scoreless game ever.”