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Anthony rebounding well
by Andy Jasner / December 15, 2004

The NBA prepares all of its incoming players with a Rookie Transition program.

The program shows players what to expect, the pitfalls that can occur.

While many players have already signed multimillion dollar contracts, they are not fully aware of all the distractions surrounding them. Even if they are, sometimes it takes tough lessons to truly learn what it is to be a
professional.

Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony is proof of this.

Clearly, he’s one of the emerging stars in the NBA, but as he has seen in a little over a year, his life has not been purely about basketball.

A public spat with United States Olympic men’s basketball coach Larry Brown was just the beginning. Then came a charge against him when marijuana was discovered in his bag at the airport. A friend of his said the marijuana was his, and the charge against Anthony was soon dropped.

If that’s not enough, Anthony learned he was featured in a DVD that was circulating in Baltimore. The DVD, called “Stop Snitching,” shows alleged drug dealers with Anthony nearby. He is seen on the DVD talking about the Olympic bronze medal. But the man he is standing next to says he would get rid of snitches by “putting a hole in their head.” Anthony was reportedly not part of that discussion and did not know he would be filmed in the video.

Welcome to the NBA, right?

“I don’t worry about anything now,” Anthony said. “I’m just going out there and playing basketball. That’s where I have the most fun, playing basketball.”

Playing basketball is something Anthony does very, very well. It started as he led the Syracuse Orange to the 2003 NCAA championship as a freshman.

It continued with a stellar rookie season with the Nuggets. Despite a tumultuous summer with the Olympic team, Anthony seems to be back on track.

Anthony scored his 2,000th career point against the Miami Heat on December 4. He became the third youngest player in NBA history to score 2,000 points behind Cleveland’s LeBron James and the LakersKobe Bryant.

Over the last five games, Anthony has averaged 26.6 points while shooting 49 percent from the field. Entering Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia, he had scored 20 points in five straight, 12 of 19 and 44 of his last 57 regular
season games.

“He’s getting better as you look at his stats over the last several games,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “He was, before the New York game (on Sunday), shooting over 50 percent from the floor, so his shot selection has
been better. He has lately done a very good job of scoring in a variety of ways.

“He’s getting to the rim off cuts, getting to the rim in transition, getting to the rim for offensive putbacks, getting to the rim to get fouled. That way, he can score a dozen or so points without even taking a jump shot. We need to just continue to stress that to him to make sure he does the things from an offensive standpoint, and he’s making progress.

“Now, defensively, he’s making some strides, and we just need to continue to work with him after every game in a constructive way, so he continues to develop that way.”

The Nuggets are developing with an array of new players, anchored by Kenyon Martin, who was signed away from Jersey as a free agent. Anthony said he’s excited about the team’s potential.

“With new faces and new players, it’s going to take time,” he said. “I think we’re doing a good job. You have players coming from one team to another and it takes time to get the chemistry down.”

How the chemistry comes together begins with Anthony. He’s their marquee player, and he welcomes the challenge.

“I let my actions on the court show what I’m about,” Anthony said. “I play hard and give it my all. That’s what I’ve done in my career.”

Anthony’s teammates have plenty of trust in Anthony. Just ask guard Andre Miller.

“He keeps getting better and his focus is better on basketball,” Miller said. “He’s got a chance to be a great player in this league. He wants to win and get better. He works at it and I’m sure he’ll continue to work at
it.”

Andy Jasner is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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