Commentary

Joel Anthony, Canada's ring man

Originally Published: August 31, 2013
By Gonzalo Aguirregomezcorta | ESPNDeportes.com

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Everything always looks better from the top. Joel Anthony is living it up and isn't thinking about coming down in the near future. After winning consecutive rings with the Miami Heat, the Canadian paints his future in his own way.

Why come down if everything looks so beautiful from the top? Anthony rejects the notion of a future away from the team that believed in him and introduced him to the NBA. He believes in a roster that brought two championships to a city where at the same time he breathes easily, one he has spent six years living in. Because of that, Team Canada's most experienced player has made one thing quite clear: He hopes to retire with the Heat.

"Of course I want to retire with Miami," the center pointed out after opening the FIBA Americas 2013 Championship with a win over Jamaica.

[+] EnlargeAnthony
Rene Johnston/Getty ImagesMiami's Joel Anthony gives Canada a man with title cachet.

"It's the team that gave me the opportunity, the team that I've played my six years on in the NBA and there's no reason for me to leave."

His loyalty to the Magic City goes far beyond his personal interest. Pragmatism reigns within a soft-spoken big man although clouds darken a reality that could end up becoming a storm.

Although it's been less than three months since Miami won the title, the season wasn't a path filled with roses for Anthony. Accustomed to averaging almost 18 minutes a game in the previous five seasons, he saw his participation reduced considerably. During the regular season Anthony was on the hardwood for an average of 9.1 minutes per game and during the playoffs, his numbers were inevitably affected.

Anthony averaged 1.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and less than a block in 62 games. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra relied more on Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem at center, and the team has added Greg Oden. And in that context, it wouldn't be a surprise if Miami tried to move Anthony, given he's the fifth highest contract ($3.8 million) on a roster that's over the salary cap.

Being part of a championship team is his main goal.

"It's not an issue of whether you're going to play or get minutes, the most important thing is that we went out to win a championship," Anthony said.

"That's my goal. At the start of the season I'm not thinking if I'm going to get minutes or not, instead it's about getting that title. As that goal was reached, there's no reason to go anywhere else."

"It was a great year," Anthony continued. "Getting that second ring was a great achievement and the season was great and successful."

"I'm happy to have the opportunity to continue competing and to continue with this team and continue this success," he said. "I certainly believe it. We'll all be returning and it will be a great opportunity to prove if we can get it. It's always good to compete."

For now, his clear-cut, absolute motivation shifts to the Canadian national team. There's talk of a Canadian basketball "Golden Generation" with young players such as Anthony Bennett (the first pick in the 2013 draft) or Kelly Olynyk (a first-round pick), neither of whom are in Venezuela due to injuries. Anthony, 31, sees a national team with a bright future.

"We feel like we have a great opportunity to qualify. The most important thing is that we go game by game, step by step and work from there," Anthony said after Canada's first win in Caracas.

"I think that in the short term we can compete to be one of the best teams. We have the talent to fulfill that goal but in a sense we're not going to put too much pressure on ourselves. We'll go little by little. At first our goal is to qualify in this tournament and by next year we'll have more guys and we'll see how we acclimate ourselves. We'll certainly have a strong team capable of playing with any of the other teams in the world."

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