Carmelo Anthony on LeBron James Relationship: 'We Will Always Be Connected'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets wait for and inbound at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

As they prepare to play one another Friday night, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony reflected on their friendship with The Athletic's Bill Oram and Jason Quick.

"We came in together," Anthony said. "Some way, some how we will always be connected."

James noted they had similar backgrounds, which helped them to forge a bond: 

"When you have a connection with somebody, you can't explain it. We have no idea. I can say that we both come from single-parent high schools, inner city, everybody looking at us as being that one from our inner city to uplift everybody else, so that right there we have something in common."

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected James with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, while the Denver Nuggets took Anthony third. James said he and Anthony first met during the 2001 Junior Olympics.

"I remember coming home and telling my high school teammates how I just seen probably the best high school player up to date that I have seen in my life," LeBron said of Anthony, who was a star at Oak Hill Academy.

The two have had somewhat divergent careers since entering the league together. James is a four-time MVP, three-time champion and is widely considered one of the greatest players ever. Anthony is a 10-time All-Star and likely Hall of Famer, but he can't escape his teams' lack of success in the playoffs. He has gotten out of the first round only twice in 11 tries.

The 35-year-old's stock had fallen so far that he spent an entire year out of the league until the Portland Trail Blazers signed him in November.

Seeing Anthony get another shot was a satisfying moment for James:

"Proud of him. I don't know if he needed to hear it or not, but I'm f--king proud of him. Like, really like a blood brother. ...

"It's like, when people throwing stones on you and trying to bury you alive and you able to rise above that s--t? That's amazing. S--t kind of hit home. It's a beautiful thing. Beautiful thing. Only the strong survive."

Anthony is proving his skeptics wrong so far in Portland. He's averaging 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. He also received the Western Conference Player of the Week award Monday.