Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

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Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby Andrew on Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:16 pm

We all know that Carmelo Anthony is adamant that he won't come off the bench in the NBA. In his career to date, he's started every game he's played in: 1054 regular season games and 72 Playoff games, for a total of 1126 out of 1126. When it comes to All-Star Games, he's eight for ten in that category, but he's obviously had less control over that. When it comes to games that count towards the season standings and overall results, he's started them all.

Diving into it a little deeper, I fired up Basketball Reference, and confirmed that Carmelo Anthony is the only player to have played in at least 1054 regular season games and started them all. Others are very close. LeBron James came off the bench once, Gary Payton twice, and Tim Duncan thrice. Melo stands alone however, with the most games played while starting every one. In fact, he's the only player to have played 1000 games or more and started every single one. Extending back to a minimum of 1000 games, Dwight Howard also joins the list of at least 1000 games played and started, but he also came off the bench once. It's a less impressive streak and total when it comes to Melo's Playoff games, but the fact remains that he's started every regular season and Playoff game he's appeared in.

That's something a lot of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers cannot say, and while there are still candidates to join him - Kevin Durant has started all 771 of his regular season games, and all 127 of his Playoff games - for now he's the only one to achieve that while playing in at least 1000 regular season games and counting. Obviously we can only speculate as to his thoughts and awareness of the specifics, and players of Melo's stature tend to prefer starting to coming off the bench anyway, but it's not unfathomable that he'd like to go down in history as starting every game he played in; perhaps the only player to do so (at least for many years), the first player to retire with that statistical distinction, the first player to reach 1000 games doing so, or whatever. He may not win a ring, he may not hold any other league records of note, but he has a shot at this one. Beyond his ego not liking the idea of coming off the bench, he could be well aware that he has a chance to hold some distinction, some record, some trivia note that a lot of the all-time greats cannot boast.

If nothing else, I think it's interesting to note that he is the first and so far only player to play in at least 1000 regular season games and start them all, and start every Playoff game as well; officially at least, since Games Started wasn't tracked until 1982. It's also interesting to compare that to other players who came close, or you'd think would be closer. As I noted, Kevin Durant is still eligible, while LeBron James isn't due to one game coming off the bench. Gary Payton, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan, and Dwight Howard are all within ten starts of the mark. Russell Westbrook is out, owing to 15 games he didn't start during his rookie campaign. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are already unable to match the feat, as are Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden (notably a former Sixth Man of the Year), and Anthony Davis. Players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jayson Tatum are in the running, but obviously have a long way to go; Donovan Mitchell has no shot at it, coming off the bench in eight games in his rookie season. Other eligible players with a bit more experience include Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Karl-Anthony Towns. In fact, Towns is off to a strong start, having also played and started in all 82 games each of his first three seasons.

For now they're still chasing Melo, and as long as he's not willing to come off the bench - and no one makes him do so - the distinction is his. If nothing else, considering all the other big names who commanded starting roles throughout the years, I think it's interesting to note that he's got the record, and the chance to be the first player to retire with that distinction.
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Re: Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby koberulz on Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:14 am

When and why did LeBron come off the bench?
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Re: Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby Andrew on Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:33 am

December 11th, 2007. He was coming back from an injury, and requested not to start.

That night 10 years ago against the Pacers, the 22-year-old James had missed the previous five games because of a sprained left index finger. Wearing a padded, protective glove on his hand, he made his return.

Coach Mike Brown had full intentions of inserting his dynamic young superstar immediately back into the starting lineup. However, in perhaps a portent of things to come, James had other ideas.

James said he asked Brown to not start him to negate any negative reaction teammate Anderson Varejao would receive from the sellout crowd. Varejao was making his season debut that night after ending a lengthy holdout and signing a three-year, $17 million contact.

During the sometimes-ugly back and forth, on-and-off negotiations with the team, Varejao, a high-energy forward, said he didn’t want to play for the Cavaliers again. Varejao, a 6-foot-10 forward from Brazil, and James were not the only Cleveland players making a return that night. Guard Larry Hughes was able to answer the bell after missing the previous 11 games with a bruised leg.

James, Varejao and Hughes all entered the game that night with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter and the Cavaliers leading, 15-11.

“I thought it would raise the intensity of the fans, having me, Larry and Andy come into the game at the same time — and it worked,” James told reporters in a postgame interview. “I thought by coming in with Andy, it might stop some of the boos Andy might get.

“(I was) just protecting my teammates.”
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Re: Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby sticky-fingers on Thu Jul 26, 2018 3:38 am

Well, starting means nothing when your advanced stats show that you have bench player level right now.
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Re: Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby Breems on Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:04 am

Very interesting stat indeed. I would've guessed there were a few more names on that list, especially now that the NBA has a few decades under its belt.
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Re: Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby Andrew on Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:36 am

A lot of greats came off the bench at one point for one reason or another. By the same token, some of those who played before Games Started was tracked as a statistic could've actually started every game as well, it's just not official. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar started every game he played after the stat began to be tracked, and there's probably a very good chance he always started before that as well.
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Re: Carmelo Anthony and The Games Started Streak

Postby Andrew on Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:10 pm

The Streak is over!

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