Carmelo Anthony’s NBA future may be clouded with uncertainty, but his past as a premier player in the league is undeniable, and this week marks five years since Melo set the Knicks franchise and Madison Square Garden single game scoring record with 62 points during a rout of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Today’s version of Anthony is wandering the NBA, having just been traded from the Houston Rockets to the Chicago Bulls — a team he will not actually play for — with apparent aspirations of joining his longtime buddy LeBron James in Los Angeles.
The Melo of yesteryear, however, was a serious maker of buckets, and on January 24, 2014, he made the most buckets he had ever made in a single game, posting 62 points on 23-35 from the field (6-11 from three and 10-10 from the free throw line). He added 13 rebounds for good measure, and was so busy draining jumpers that he forgot to get any assists.
The offensive explosion began immediately, with Melo jab stepping his way to a jumper from the elbow just 20 seconds into the game. Before the first quarter was through, Anthony had racked up 20 points, and by the time the second quarter was over he had tallied 37. Melo was so hot that, from the moment he launched a heave from the center court logo to end the first half, it was obviously going in.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Knicks were up 35, and Anthony alone had 56 points. With about 7:20 remaining, an Anthony layup made it 109-72 and gave him 62 points, pushing him past the previous Knicks record holder, Bernard King, who scored 60 points on Christmas Day in 1984.
Anthony could have easily reached 70 if he’d been given the chance, but head coach Mike Woodson promptly pulled him so the crowd could shower him with love, which they did. Lots of people wanted Woodson to leave Melo in the game so he could shoot his way to 70 points, including LeBron, who chimed in on Twitter even though he wasn’t actually watching the game.
C'mon Mike Woodson keep @carmeloanthony in. I wanna see 70-75! Well actually I can't see cause I'm at an event but I'll see the highlights!— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 25, 2014
When all was said and done, the Knicks had beaten the Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats, 125-96, and history had been made. Some might argue that Anthony’s onslaught essentially killed the Bobcats, seeing as the team took back the Charlotte Hornets moniker the very next season.
“I was just taking it one possession at a time,” Anthony said in his on court interview with MSG Network after the final buzzer had sounded. “I came into the game locked in. I didn’t know I was going to have this type of performance. It’s an unbelievable feeling. ... It’s just a zone you get into sometimes. Only a certain group of people know what that zone feels like. Tonight was one of those zones. My teammates saw that.”
In addition to passing King, Anthony bested Kobe Bryant, who had previously held the overall record for most points in a single game at MSG thanks to a 61 point performance in 2009. Here are the highlights to that one, in case you enjoy watching opponents obliterate David Lee, Jared Jeffries and the rest of the Knicks from back then. Anthony’s blizzard of points also represented the most any player had scored in a single game, in general, since Bryant scored 65 against the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007. Kobe could score points.
Of course, we’re obligated to mention that James Harden just tried, and failed, to break Melo’s record. Harden finished with 61 in a victory against the Knicks at MSG that literally just took place, on January 23, 2019, almost five years to the day that Anthony scored 62, which, again, is more than 61.
Today, Anthony sits in limbo, but his place as one of the top bucket getters in NBA history is solidified. In fact, only these 12 players have ever scored more than 62 points in a single game:
Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor, Devin Booker, Michael Jordan, Pete Maravich, Rick Barry, George Gervin, Jerry West and Joe Fulks.
Chamberlain put up more than 62 points 17 times in his career (!), including when he scored 100 against the Knicks. He also scored exactly 62 points six times, so needless to say, Chamberlain was a pointsman. Bryant and Jordan each put up more than 62 twice, and Kobe scored exactly 62 once, with Jordan putting up 61 points two times.
As for Melo, while he only reached the 60 mark one time, he has scored 50 or more four times in his career, which ain’t too shabby. The Knicks may have made the right decision in moving on from Melo, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t times when his ability to put the ball in the basket was simply spectacular to watch.
Good luck in your future endeavors, Melo, whether they include playing more NBA basketball or not. Now let’s sit back, relax and enjoy watching every single one of Anthony’s 62 points from the barrage that took place five years ago this week.