Quickly, Anthony gathered his steps and pulled up for a 27-foot three-point shot that settled into the net with 3 minutes 20 seconds left in the third quarter Sunday night and moved him past Moses Malone (27,409) for ninth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
His Lakers teammates saluted Anthony by doing his signature move he does after he drills a three-pointer — taking three fingers and tapping them against their forehead three times.
“I keep saying this, man: It’s an honor, it’s a blessing. But to be in that list, to pass Moses and know what Moses did, what he did for the game of basketball, it’s hard to put it in words,” an appreciative Anthony said. “I’m still here doing it. I think that’s what I’m honestly excited about. I’m here in Year 19 still doing what I’m able to do. Still passionate about the game. Still passionate about coming to work every day and getting better. And what a better night to reach ninth [than] with a win, the way that we needed a win tonight. So, overall, it was a hell of a night.”
Anthony, who now has 27,423 points in his career, didn’t lose sight of making history on a night when the Lakers were in real need of a victory after starting the season 0-2.
And his offensive production played a big role in the Lakers’ pulling out a 121-118 win over the Grizzlies at Staples Center.
Anthony led the Lakers in scoring with 28 points, shooting 10 for 15 from the field, 6 for 8 from three-point range.
“I think it always feels sweeter when it happens in a win, and even more sweeter when it just happens organically,” said LeBron James, who has been friends with Anthony since high school. “He was just playing just straight-up flow, rhythm basketball tonight. For him to move to ninth place all-time on the scoring leaderboard is special and usually when some of my friends have these kinds of achievements, I text them or call them or FaceTime or put something on social media. In this case I got to do it in person, because he’s my teammate now, so it made it special for me.”
The Lakers showed a video collage of Anthony from his days in Denver, New York, Portland and now Los Angeles, all a part of his 19-year journey that landed him at this point in his career.
The fans gave him a standing ovation. They chanted his name, “Me-lo … Me-lo … Me-lo,» when he went through a stretch of making all four of his three-point shots in the second half, embracing him after only three regular-season games with the Lakers.
“Yeah, I mean, again, I haven’t really put it all in perspective yet. Just coming off this game and trying to decompress from this game, I haven’t had a chance to think about it at all,” Anthony said. “But being here in L.A. and just the way the fans embraced me, knowing the battles that I’ve had in here — in L.A., against the Lakers just over the years. And again, this happening in Year 19. And for these fans to embrace me the way that they’re doing, I have to keep going. That keeps me motivated knowing that I have a supporting cast the way that I have with the fans of Los Angeles.”
He was given the game ball by his teammates and was asked to give a speech in the locker room, “but [I was] too tired.”
Anthony smiled. He had played 27:35 — 9:28 in the fourth when the game was on the line.
When he sat down to give his postgame interview, he had a cup of tea in his hand. He looked down at a stat sheet on the table and pushed it away.
“Scoring the basketball is not easy. We may make it look easy, but it’s not easy,” Anthony said. “And again, for me, this is 19 years of repetition. And night-in and night-out. Day-in and day-out. Every summer. Every season. I’m reaping those benefits right now because of the persistence that I have in my professionalism. What I bring to the game, how I approach the game. And I want to keep going. That’s all that matters to me.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.