There are many versions of Carmelo Anthony, but as pictures and videos popped up during the first week of the Portland Trail Blazers' practices in Orlando, Florida, a new version emerged: Skinny Melo.
"Every summer, it's a different name for me," Anthony said Friday. "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."
It's actually "Olympic Melo," but we'll forgive Anthony for getting his own nickname wrong.
Anthony is noticeably slimmed down from what he looked like during the season, and it was sparked by an anticipated position change upon the returns of big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. Anthony has been starting at power forward for Portland, continuing at the position he adjusted to playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But with the Blazers returning two other starters for the NBA restart, Anthony is sliding down a spot to the position he played for the majority of his career.
"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," Anthony 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.
"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," he said. "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."
Anthony, 36, said he experimented with a few things in his diet and tweaked some of his workouts and training during the hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic. But for anyone looking for a new diet to try, Anthony wasn't sharing his tricks.
"I can't give you that secret," he said. "But it was a very intense, very healthy diet."
He said he hasn't shed that many pounds -- only about 5 -- and called it more a redistribution of his weight while reducing body fat.
"I told him he looks like he lost weight, but he hasn't lost that many pounds," guard CJ 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."
With forward Trevor Ariza not making the trip to Orlando, Anthony became the natural option to step into the small forward spot. He hasn't played the position since his days in New York, but he spent the past few weeks saying it won't be that big of a change because he knows the position, and he views basketball as a position-less game now anyway. Still, trimming down is something that could benefit him on the defensive end, an area of issue as he has aged.
"I can definitely tell a difference," he said.
In terms of the Skinny Melo moniker, he's good with it.
"I take it as a compliment," he said. "I take it as a testament to the work I had put in, just the extreme focus I've had over these past couple months."
As for the next version?
"I was about to say something, but I can't," he said with a smile. "We'll get through this bubble first, and I'll let you know. I'll keep you posted."