“I was preparin’ myself,” Anthony told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a conversation that aired on Tuesday. “And I had prepared myself to kinda just walk away from the game — if the right situation didn’t come about.”
Anthony, who was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, is averaging 17.7 points a game since joining the Blazers on Nov. 19.
“I say that because I know what I can do,” Anthony said. “So if I were just to go to a team and to a situation just to be on the team and it didn’t work out, it was gonna come back on me anyway. Like, the blame is gonna be on me anyway. So a situation like Portland, where I could just come in and just play my game and have a group of guys that really want me, and the organization that want me.
“There’s no better feelin’ than when you feel wanted. And I think that’s what kinda keeps me motivated and understandin’, like, this situation is — it is and was the best situation for me.”
The Blazers are 3-3 since Anthony’s arrival but have won three in a row heading into Tuesday’s game at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony, who played in just 10 games last season as a member of the Houston Rockets, could not find a job until the struggling Blazers came calling.
Throughout his sabbatical from the league, Anthony was outspoken in his belief he could still play. But he acknowledges there was a point he thought about retirement after so many teams passed on his services.
“I was ready to walk away, yeah,” Anthony said. “It was hard. But there came a point when I was, like, ‘You know what? I’ve given a lot to this game. I played 15, 16 years in this game. I’m ready to give it up, because I just knew that at that point in time from a basketball standpoint, that narrative that it — it was already out there. So I’d been fightin’ an uphill battle anyway if I didn’t go to the right situation.”
Anthony says he is not viewing his second chance in the league as a retirement tour. One of his close friends, former Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, received accolades throughout the league in his final season a year ago, but Anthony said he didn’t sign with the Blazers for that kind of treatment.
He said his body is in a solid place after a year off from the grind of an NBA season.
“I feel good,” he said. “Just because I’m 35 years old and I’m supposed to be, you know, the book says you’re supposed to be about to retire around this time? Like — like, no, I’ve always been against all odds. … I just had a year off. … I had a year off restin’ my body.
“The most important part about that is I rested my mind right. I got my mind right. And I don’t think people understand how strong that is. When you’re able to get your mind right, everything else flows.”
Anthony is looking forward to Friday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers and close friend LeBron James but says he would never put James in a situation where he pushed his friend to call on his behalf for a job.
“I never called him and said, ‘What’re we doin’?’ Or ‘I need you to do this for me,'” Anthony said. “I would never do that. I would never put him in that situation. I don’t know what he’s doin’ on his side, but I would never put him, as a friend, as a brother, in that situation. And I know for a fact he would go to bat for me, but I don’t feel comfortable putting people in that situation, whether you’re my friend or not.”
James and Anthony have been playing against each other for almost two decades now — with another chapter set to be written this week in Portland.
“Those are fun games, though, right?” Anthony said. “I mean, we’ve been — we’re 17 years in. I remember sitting in New Jersey in high school [talking] about playing for the first time, like, we’re — we’re here 17 years later still doin’ what we do and what we love.”