Lakers’ Carmelo Anthony solely motivated this season to win his first NBA ring: ‘That’s it’

The NBA star has cemented himself as one of the game’s best scorers. He has appeared in 10 NBA All-Star games. And he has received recognition for his social justice work.

Carmelo Anthony enters his 19th NBA season, however, still lacking a championship ring. So with the 37-year-old Anthony entering his first season with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook on the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony sounded more interested in collecting his first Larry O’Brien trophy than adding extra polish to his Hall-of-Fame resume.

“I reached a lot of the individual goals, but there’s only one thing right now for me,” Anthony told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s the only thing I have to think about it, could think about and should think about. Everything else should be irrelevant.”

Nonetheless, it seems inevitable Anthony will reach a significant milestone this season. Anthony, who ranks 10th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 27,370 points, needs to score only 40 points to surpass Moses Malone for ninth place.

At 37, Carmelo Anthony enters the 2021-22 season at No. 10 on the all-time NBA scoring list. He is now with the Lakers.

“Those are fun things and exciting things to look forward to. All of that is a part of the journey and part of the actual experience,” Anthony said. “We’re knowing that we’re fighting for something bigger, which is an actual championship. But in between that, we have these moments that we should appreciate.”

Anthony has experienced another moment to appreciate. Anthony’s memoir titled “Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope” is on sale beginning today, a book co-authored with D. Watkins that details Anthony’s upbringing that partly entailed dealing with poverty and racism.

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“The time was now for me to tell that story before it was too late,” Anthony said. “I’d have gotten older and find my story wouldn’t have been as good to know, built to read and the connection wouldn’t have been there like it is now. I’m still able to be the connective tissue to a number of generations – one before me and the one after me. I can still talk to them and they can still relate to me right now.”

If Anthony has his way, he might want to add a few more chapters to any paperback edition.

This cover image released by Gallery Books shows “Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope” by Carmelo Anthony with D. Watkins. The book will be released on Sept. 14.

When the Lakers begin training camp in two weeks, they could experience both clarity and uncertainty throughout the 2021-22 season with answering one question. With the Lakers fielding a team full of All-Stars (James, Davis, Anthony, Westbrook, Dwight Howard), proven veterans (Rajon Rondo, Deandre Jordan, Trevor Ariza) and young players (Taylor Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn), can they take advantage of their experience and star power to win an NBA title? Or could injuries and adjusted roles lead to too many speed bumps?

Anthony maintained that “this team is a well put together team with all the right pieces in order to win a championship.” Still, Anthony remained mindful of the difference between a championship-caliber roster and a championship-caliber team.

“Health – I think that’s our biggest kryptonite or will be our biggest kryptonite,” Anthony said. “That’s anybody’s kryptonite. If you’re not healthy, that changes the dynamic of the entire team. But we got to work. It’s not like we just put this team together and it’s going to happen. We got to make it work. I think we will make it work, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making it work.”

Some of that work will hinge on Anthony, too. How well can Anthony adapt to a role much different than what he experienced during most of his NBA career? How well can he stay healthy? He delivered encouraging news on both fronts.

After remaining the team’s dominant scorer for most of his career with the Denver Nuggets (2003-2011) and New York Knicks (2010-2017), Anthony initially struggled handling a reduced role in Oklahoma City (2017-18) and the Houston Rockets (2018-2019). So much that Anthony went for over a year unsigned after the Rockets waived him.

But in the past two years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Anthony thrived in reduced roles as a starter and reserve. He also has had more time to get acclimated with the Lakers and training at their practice facility, a much different reality than when Anthony joined Portland early into the 2018-19 season.

“I’m happy from that standpoint that it was early enough to where I can be settled going into it as opposed to past experiences,” Anthony said. “There, I have to go the night before or I have to go two days before and everything is rushed and you’re not comfortable with the house that you’re in or the place that you’re in. There’s so many moving parts.”

As for his health, Anthony maintained that he “feels the best that I’ve felt in a long, long time.”

Perhaps that reality will help Anthony move even higher on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Anthony trails closely behind Shaquille O’Neal (28.596 points), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (31,560), but would need to play multiple years. Anthony conceded “it’s hard to say” how long he wants to keep playing after this season.

“My body will tell me when it’s time to go,” Anthony said. “Your body is not going to lie to you. I did have a year and some change to conserve some gas in the tank. I’ve thought about it before. But now, I don’t think about it.”

Instead, Anthony maintained he has thought strictly about winning his first NBA championship.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Carmelo Anthony, part of LA Lakers star-studded roster, wants his ring

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