On Tuesday night, Carmelo Anthony hit the dagger for the Portland Trail Blazers that assured them a win over the Houston Rockets in a critical game for Portland’s hopes of earning a playoff spot in the West. The win moved the Blazers into solo ninth, 1.5 games back of the Grizzlies for eighth and with a very real chance of swiping that position from Memphis, as the Grizzlies must play their final five games without Jaren Jackson Jr.
However, after the game, the discussion was less on Portland’s playoff hopes and more on comments made by Damian Lillard. The superstar point guard, during his postgame interview, called it “disappointing” that people are surprised when Carmelo does things like hit clutch threes late, noting that he’s a Hall of Famer and should be respected as such. This sparked debate among NBA fans about Carmelo Anthony’s Hall of Fame credentials, which is a patently absurd debate.
Let’s spell this out as clearly as possible: Carmelo Anthony is a no-doubt Hall of Famer and will almost assuredly go in on the first ballot.
His individual NBA accolades alone would probably put him in the Hall, as he’s currently 17th on the all-time scoring list and could threaten the top-10 with another season of play. He’s just 951 points from passing Elvin Hayes, who currently sits in 10th, and there’s no reason at this point to believe he’s anywhere close to stopping. At that point, regardless of the success of Carmelo Anthony’s teams — which, I should remind you, he was the leader of the last good Knicks team and a Nuggets team that was a perennial playoff squad in the West — he’s in.
On top of his prolific scoring in the NBA, something that is regularly forgotten by fans is that it is the Basketball Hall of Fame, not just the NBA Hall of Fame. As such, his college career and USA Basketball career are included in the criteria for entry. Olympic Melo is legendary, the guy that fans always wanted to show up for their team, share the ball, shoot threes, and just generally buy in to the team concept. Anthony has won three Olympic gold medals, the first men’s player to do so in USA Basketball history. He’s the first men’s player to appear in four Olympics and win four medals (he was on the 2004 bronze medal team). He ranks first in USA Basketball history in the Olympic men’s record book in “games played (31), points (336), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (262), rebounds (125), 3-point field goals attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71). The 57 threes he has made are second in USA Basketball’s history.
On top of his NBA and Olympic profile, Anthony led Syracuse to the national championship in his lone college season, averaging 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game, earning NCAA Tournament MOP honors. It is Syracuse’s first and only men’s basketball national championship in school history.
When taken in totality, there’s not a chance Anthony isn’t in the Hall of Fame and isn’t there with haste once he’s eligible. He has become a polarizing player in the analytics age and there are certainly flaws to point out, but his career, from college to USA Basketball to the NBA, has been nothing short of astounding. He’ll be headed to Springfield in the fairly near future once he hangs it up.