Joel Anthony added another championship to his trophy case on Sunday night as he helped San Lorenzo of the Argentine professional league (Liga Nacional de Basquet) to a second consecutive FIBA Americas League championship.
The Americas League, which started in 2007, puts together the 16 best teams from South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico in a competition similar to the Euroleague.
In the Grand Final, Anthony posted a typical Joel Anthony-like stat line of five points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in 27 minutes.
"It's really big, it's really important for me. I'm really happy, really excited to be able to be at this point where I can still compete for a championship," Anthony told NBA.com. "It's definitely very special for me to be able to do something like this at this later stage of my career."
At age 36, the Montreal native still finds joy in the thrill of competition. But while he's had his successful stints throughout his career, Anthony has had to work to become the player he is.
From being undrafted coming out of UNLV to working his way into the NBA and becoming a contributor to a two-time championship Miami Heat team that featured LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, he's had to sacrifice and do the little things that don't always show up in the stat sheet - and not only do them but do them well.
"Obviously I've been fortunate to have some really good experiences that have helped me grow as a player, but just my work ethic. It started from when I was young," Anthony continued. "I just believed that you know I would do whatever it takes.
"I've always been willing to sacrifice whatever it is to make sure that I would give my team the chance to win. I've always been like that and the idea to be unselfish and give up certain things so that we can be better and focus on little things that we need … it's just stuck with me.
💪🏿 Recordaremos los triples, las volcadas, los tantos decisivos. Pero nada de eso alcanzaría sin la defensa de Joel Anthony 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/aPbjJcyaLP- CASLA Básquet 🏆 (@CASLABasquet) April 2, 2019
"It's what I've taken a lot of pride in and I'm happy that I'm still able to continue to do it."
Anthony averaged 8.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game in the Americas League. It was his second season playing with San Lorenzo. Last year he joined the team late but was around to see them win the Americas League title. This season he was there from the start and was a large part of why the team won.
When the NBA offers fizzled out, Anthony looked to be a part of a team and league he could contribute to and play at a high level. Having played in Buenos Aires - the capital city of Argentina - many times before with the Canadian National team, San Lorenzo felt familiar to the defensive specialist.
"After I felt that I wasn't going to have another opportunity in the NBA," Anthony recalled. "I felt that this team and this league was something that I could contribute to and it was also a strong league that would still give me that good competition that I was always looking for.
"To be able to play on this type of team and these players, to be able to have success, shows that it was definitely worth it to make this decision and I'm happy that things have been able to work out so far."
Sacrifice has become part of the Joel Anthony story. A selfless champion now in multiple leagues who has put the team first at every turn in his career. He's been rewarded at times, and maybe felt like he could've done more in other situations.
Through all the sacrifice, Anthony maintains that with every win it's always worth it.
"Yeah, it's definitely not easy at all, but I think the biggest thing that makes it so much easier is when you're able to win because you do these things for the team.
"You know you don't really do it for yourself as much, but a lot of it you really do for the team.
"And when you're able to have success it shows that it's worth it."
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