It feels like we’re back in the early 2000s talking about an on-court battle between Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. The veteran stars will go toe to toe on Tuesday night in a highly anticipated Western Conference matchup in round 1 of the NBA Playoffs. Melo, along with superstar point guard, Damian Lillard, helped Portland to clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference on August 15. And now, Melo’s hungry for more.
“Carmelo and Portland are working on all cylinders right now. The Lakers haven’t played up to their potential, and LeBron is well aware that they’re vulnerable right now — and Carmelo can absolutely see that,” a source close to Carmelo tells HollywoodLife, exclusively. “He knows LeBron is one of the best players, if not the best player in the world, so it’ll be an uphill battle to win the series,” the insider says, noting that despite the odds stacked against him, Carmelo’s more confident than ever.
“He trusts that his own play, his team’s play and especially Dame’s presence on the floor will be enough to shock the world and knock out the Lakers in the playoffs. That’s Carmelo’s mindset right now,” the source admits — adding that he’d love nothing more than to win a championship at this point in his career. “And, going through the Lakers would sweeten a victory immensely.”
The Lakers-Portland series marks the first time Carmelo and LeBron will meet in the post-season since 2012. The longtime friends go way back, both personally and on the court. In 2002, they were high-school prospects when LeBron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school faced off against Carmelo’s Oak Hill Academy. One year later, LeBron and Carmelo were selected No. 1 and No. 3 overall, respectively, in the 2003 NBA Draft. After that, fans went on to watch them battle it out on the hardwood for 17 seasons.
Carmelo and LeBron have played in a number of All-Star Games throughout their intertwined careers. They even won two Olympic gold medals together in Beijing and London (as well as a bronze in Athens). So, whenever these two have the opportunity to reunite on the court and play at the highest level, it’s always a memorable moment.
“I can’t even lie. It’s always special to be on the floor with a brother of mine,” the 3-time NBA champion said after playing Melo in December of 2019, via ESPN. “We got so much history,” LeBron continued, explaining, “We’ve been competing for a long time, we’ve been on the same team with the Olympics and then just our brotherhood. That’s my brother, man. It’s always great to be able to compete and just be on the same floor — period,” he said, adding, “No matter if it’s, like I said, with Team USA, when we’re teammates or just competing on our respective clubs.”