Los Angeles Lakers swingman Carmelo Anthony gathered the team around after LeBron James was ejected from Sunday's game against the Detroit Pistons. With just over nine minutes left to play in the third quarter, James was ejected after he bloodied Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart.
The Pistons were up by 12 at the time of the ejection and up by 15 to start the fourth quarter. Anthony first went to the locker to check on James before returning and gathering his teammates to deliver them a message. "I just felt like we needed to all come together, we needed to believe in the bigger picture," Anthony said on a videoconference call on Monday.
"And I think at that moment, the way I was just able to grab everybody's attention in that moment, we were looking for something like that. And last night, it just so happened to be me. Tomorrow, it might be somebody else.
But at that moment last night, it was time for something to be said to kind of just get the car rolling. We needed that."
Anthony, the Lakers got the win
The Lakers won the fourth quarter 37-17 and ended up beating the Pistons 121-116.
"It's unfortunate that we had to go through that situation, but we needed something like that to jump-start us," Anthony explained. "We haven't been tested like that all season, and that was a major, major test that we passed last night."
Anthony is having a great first season with the Lakers. "Melo has been great for us," coach Frank Vogel said Sunday after the game. "I can't say that strongly enough. He really has been a champion for all the causes of what we're trying to get done.
The defensive commitment and buy-in, to trying to play for each other. ... He was the one that spoke up, along with others, to say that we can't let this turn out to be a loss. Like, we got to rally around this. So, credit to him."
Anthony felt he needed to step up and show leadership after James was ejected from the game. "Why did I speak up? That's just, that's who I am," Anthony said. "It's a part of what I do, who I am.
... I'm a guy who, I don't say much, but when it's time for me to speak up, it just happens, it's natural. It wasn't something that was premeditated. It was just at that moment, gather everybody up together.
We understood, and we saw what was happening. And I said this [Sunday] night, the game could've went, it could've been worse."