LeBron James recalled his journey alongside close friend Carmelo Anthony, who publicly announced his retirement from the NBA on Monday.
James told reporters after the Lakers’ playoff exit on Monday night that he was aware of it last week, having been involved in the process of making the video.
“It’s always bittersweet obviously. He’s one of my best friends – even before coming to this league,” he said.
“Sitting outside a hotel room at two or three in the morning… [talking about] what we could possibly do in the future, what we could possibly do for our mothers, what we could possibly do for our families if we stayed focused.
“We were a driving force for each other. We’ve been locked at the hip since high school…he’s always been a motivator for me.
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony started playing against each other in the league in 2003
James and Anthony were competitors and friends throughout their long careers
James finished the playoff game with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists – but couldn’t rely on the final two possessions to keep the Lakers alive.
The 38-year-old scored 31 points in the first quarter but could only add nine. James played the entirety of Game 4 except for a few seconds at the end of the first half.
After a historic 20th season in the Conference, ‘The King’ will not add to his four NBA titles. After Anthony’s retirement, James is the only member of the 2003 NBA draft still in the league.
‘Certainly just a bittersweet moment to see one of my great friends today… [end] an incredible race. It’s an incredible achievement, an incredible career. We will always be united at the hip, no matter what.
Anthony and James were ranked No. 3 and No. 1 overall, respectively, in what is considered one of the biggest drafts in recent history. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Kyle Korver are other notable players in the class.
While James is still playing – looking to eventually do so alongside his eldest son Bronny, who recently committed to USC – the torch will soon be passed on to their heirs.
Anthony’s son, Kiyan, and James Jr. competed at the high school level. Kiyan is a member of the Class of 2025 and is a four-star recruit from Glen Head, NY. According to 247 Sports, he has offers from a range of schools including Tennessee, Indiana, Memphis, Illinois and his father’s alma mater, Syracuse.
Anthony averaged 22.5 points in his 19 seasons, spending most of those years with Denver and the New York Knicks. He was the NBA’s leading scorer with 28.7 points per game in 2012-13, when the Knicks won 54 games and the Atlantic Division title.
As the two climb in age, only James remains to carry the torch for the historic 2003 draft class
Soon their sons Bryce and Bronny James (L and C) and Kiyan Anthony (R) will continue their legacy. Bronny has committed to playing college at USC while Bryce and Kiyan are in high school
James described Anthony’s retirement as ‘bittersweet’ during his post-match press conference
“Melo” spent his first 7.5 NBA seasons in Denver, becoming the third leading scorer in franchise history. His Nuggets teams have won seven straight seasons and earned seven playoff berths, but only advanced to the playoffs once, ending with that six-game Conference Finals loss to the Lakers in 2009.
Anthony also played for Portland, Oklahoma City, Houston and finished his career with the Lakers last season. He didn’t sign this year, and now his retirement is official.
James and Anthony were briefly teammates throughout their illustrious career. Melo joined James at Tinseltown in August 2021. He played 69 games in the 2021-22 season, averaging 13.3 points.
The pair fared better on the international stage, winning several gold medals for Team USA. He and James were both part of the USA treble at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Anthony said in his retirement speech that he was looking forward to following Kiyan’s development.
“People ask what I think is my legacy,” Anthony said. “It’s not my exploits on the court that come to mind, all the accolades or accolades. Because my story has always been about more than basketball. My legacy, my son… I will forever continue to through you. The time has come for you to carry this torch.