13 years of professional basketball. Still standing, still winning

Egbert Gaye

Joel Anthony looks back at a professional career that spans 13 years so far, 11 in the NBA, that included being a two-time World Champion with Miami Heat, playing legends such as Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, also representing Team Canada as well as winning back-to-back FIBA Americas League championship and Argentinean championships with San Lorenzo of the Argentine professional league (Liga Nacional de Basquet).
Today, the 37-year-old sees the time fast approaching when he will put that illustrious basketball career away for good. And he’s comfortable with that.
He told the Contact while he’s extremely proud of having been on the big stage on so many occasions during his time on the basketball court, he’s just as excited looking forward to another phase in his life, one in which he maybe able to help some of the many hungry prospects who’re out there searching for success in the incredibly demanding world of professional basketball.
This past summer, Anthony had an opportunity to relive that phase of his life when he journeyed to northern Florida to his alma mater, Pensacola State College, where he was part of the Class of 2019 Hall Of Fame inductees.
He regards his time at the college as the period of most growth and development towards his eventual entry into the NBA.
“Being there truly changed my life and prepared me for what was to come,” he recalls. “The coaches, teachers and even the people in the town helped to put me on the path for success.”
The former Selwyn House student and Dawson College star says Pensacola State gave him all the tools needed to become a prospect first for NCAA ball and eventually the NBA, including the physicality and the mindset to play basketball at those levels.
“By the time I left, it was easy for me to get on the team at UNLV immediately and eventually to the NBA. That’s why I value and truly appreciate being inducted into the Hall of Fame there.”
He played two years at Pensacola State between 2002 and 2004, setting records and grabbing one or two conference awards before moving to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he played between 2004-2007, copping the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year in his final season there.
Later that year, he was signed by the Miami Heat in the NBA undrafted and remained with the team until 2014, playing with the so-called “Big Three,” Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, winning two championship rings in 2012 and 2013.
His time in the NBA was defined by his “workman attitude” and his resilience. He took his impressive defensive skills to Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks over the 11 years that he remained in the league.
In 2018 he signed with San Lorenzo of the Argentine professional league and helped them to back-to-back championships as well as consecutive FIBA Americas League championships in 2018 and 2019.
The league, which features 16 of the best teams from South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico has been at play since 2007.
Anthony says playing in Argentina over the past two years has been very exciting and he’s happy to have contributed to the success of San Lorenzo, but he might be ready to move in another direction.
In 2006 he was called to join Team Canada, remaining with the squad for more than seven years.
And as he prepares for retirement, Anthony is happy with the state of Canadian basketball today and the quality of the players that the country is producing, all of which he says started with the Raptors coming to Toronto.
“Having a mega-star like Vince Carter playing in TO was an inspiration to many young and aspiring players, also all the programs that the Raptors established eventually produced the type of players we’re seeing today,” he says. “It’s a lot different from the time I went into the NBA. I was way under the radar; these days these young guys are going in as number one and two prospects.”
As he was getting serious about the game, he said he drew a lot of inspiration from seeing Canadian standout player Jamal Magloire (formerly of the Hornets, the Bucks, Trailblazers, Nets, Mavericks, The Heat and the Toronto Raptors) making inroads in the NBA.
“I was happy to have a guy like him to look up to,” Anthony says. “And even more fortunate to get to know him as a big brother and a friend.”
After almost 13 years on the professional circuit, Anthony, who’s based in Toronto and Miami, remains a Montrealer at heart and visits regularly to be with his mother and friends here.
He remains thankful for what the game has given him and the support he has had from his community of friends. His hope is that he will be able to share his experiences and gifts with players willing to put in the hard work to see how far their talent would take them.