Carmelo Anthony transforms into ‘Skinny Melo’ for NBA bubble

Carmelo Anthony once looked like he would never return to the NBA. Now, he looks like he did when he first entered the league.

Anticipating the return of Portland big men Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic for the NBA restart, Anthony spent much of the pandemic preparing to return to the small forward position and arrived in Orlando appearing considerably thinner and more toned than he has in years.

The 36-year-old, who has played power forward since his time with the Knicks, said he adopted a “very intense, very healthy diet” and altered his workout routines over the past few months in order to improve his speed and conditioning.

“For me, I had that in the back of my mind, once coach told me the position, that I’d be switching back to the 3,” the Blazers forward said. “I kind of challenged myself to get down to that weight where I feel comfortable with playing the 3, comfortable running around and utilizing things I can do within our system from playing the 3.

Carmelo Anthony during a recent Trail Blazers practice in Orlando.NBAE via Getty Images

“That was a big motivation for me to come back at that exact weight or around that weight, 230, 235. I haven’t seen 230, 235 since early, early in my career. So now it puts me back in a mindset of that from a confidence standpoint, knowing that I was able to get back to that. On the court I feel good, I feel healthy. I have a lot of clarity, too. All of that was part of the plan.

“I can definitely tell a difference.”

Though Anthony said he lost only about five pounds, teammate CJ McCollum noticed the difference, too.

“I told him he looks like he lost weight, but he hasn’t lost that many pounds,” McCollum said. “It’s more so turning some of the fat into muscle and leaning out. But he’s always around the same weight. He just carries it different. So when he has those little tights on and the muscle shirt, he looks thinner, but he’s moving well, he’s in good shape, and he’s ready to go.”

Another phase in Anthony’s career is set to begin.

“Every summer, it’s a different name for me,” Anthony said. “This summer is Skinny Melo. There’s Hoodie Melo, USA Melo, there’s so many different Melos out there. But at the end of the day, I’m me.”